And who can blame them, really? Any time you play the New Jersey Devils, you're going to be fighting to stay awake the whole game, and the Ottawa Senators couldn't fight through the snooze to get the win. It didn't help that forwards Alex Kovalev and Mike Fisher were both out, and the struggles of Jason Spezza (2P in last 9GP) continue, so there was really not much going offensively for the Senators tonight.
When Ottawa did get chances--and there were a couple, including notably from Nick Foligno, Daniel Alfredsson, and Milan Michalek--Devils 'tender Martin Brodeur was usually standing tall in net. Ottawa's lone goal came from Michalek, who tipped in a point-shot from Jesse Winchester; Winch and Ryan Shannon (who had the second assist on the lone goal) again had strong games tonight. The Sens did manage to outshoot the Devils 25-21, including a 12-7 third period, but couldn't convert their scoring chances.
On the plus side, Brian Elliott was strong, and Jersey's goals were all explainable. Nicklas Bergfors was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce off the stantion after a dump-in, as the puck dribbled in front of the net and Elliott couldn't pokecheck it away. The second was a tip-in, and Elliott stopped the rest of the shots, helping the Sens kill off all four penalties they had. The third was an empty-netter, but there was more to it than just an easy tap-in.
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Those of you who saw it know exactly what I'm talking about, but after Spezza had committed (and missed) coming off the bench late in the game, Jamie Langenbrunner was on a breakaway with an empty net. Alfredsson, obviously frustrated with his team's inability to get anything of substance going offensively, threw his stick. It's not something you see very often--and it results in an automatic goal--but it goes to show that Alfie was as frustrated as the Senators fans who were watching the game were.
As if the Senators injury problems weren't bad enough, Peter Regin got hit in the face with a puck in the first period, Chris Neil injured his left knee after he was hit by Andrew Peters later in the first, and Alex Picard was down and out mid-way through the second after getting the forearm-shiver from Peters (no penalty, though). Although Regin returned in the second (with a face shield on) and Picard was back in the action after a few minutes, Neil did not return. Which is too bad, because Neil's had a rebound season almost as resounding as Fisher's had been, and now both--for uncertain time frames--are out of the lineup.
Among my picks for stars of the night (along with Michalek and Regin) was Chris Phillips. I've been very impressed with his play this season (who hasn't?) and even though he was -2, he had another strong game. Most positive statistic was his five hits, but I was most impressed by a defensive play he made while short-handed, when he stretched out to knock the puck off Elias' stick in the second period.
I can't really say I noticed much from Ryan Keller on the night, but he did only play 8:03 overall. He did have a couple of shots, though, which is as many or more than the majority of his teammates--in far less time than anyone other than Neil (who had only played 3:25 when he got knocked out of the game). I hope I don't have to see him again, because that would mean at least one of Fisher or Kovalev is back, but it would be interesting to see how well he plays against a team that's not the New Jersey Devils.
Again tonight, the Senators played a very disciplined team; it was the second time this season Ottawa had no powerplay opportunities (the first was a couple of weeks ago against Edmonton). I don't know what it is, but you can be sure there were at least a couple of penalty-worthy indiscretions on the night, not the least of which was Peters' dirty hit on Picard (no, it wasn't boarding or cross-checking, but it was roughing). It's also curious that, after the hit, Peters dropped his gloves to fight Matt Carkner, but despite the fact that Carks didn't drop his gloves, both got two-minute roughing minors.
Not much else to say, really. The Senators were missing a lot of firepower, the firepower they had wasn't firing, and they were playing New Jersey anyway. It was a disappointing end to the team's four-game winning streak, but there isn't much time to pout about it; Ottawa's back at it tomorrow night.