Senators start regular season one month late, win opener 5-2 against Coyotes

OTTAWA ON - OCTOBER 26: In his 1000th NHL regular season game Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Ottawa Senators sends a pass back into his zone while being pursued by Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes in a game at Scotiabank Place on October 26 2010 in Ottawa Ontario Canada. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 5-2. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Forgive me, readers: This will largely be a superficial recap, based mostly on second-hand accounts and the stats lines behind the game. But on the bright side, the Ottawa Senators came away with two points against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight thanks to a 5-2 score!

The game started well: Erik Karlsson put a rebound past Jason LaBarbera just over five minutes into the first period--on the powerplay, to boot--and Alex Kovalev scored his first of two on the night just nine seconds later, setting a new franchise record. Chris Kelly passed the puck into the net before the first was over, and the 3-0 score after 20 minutes was well-earned as the Sens outshot the 'Yotes 20-8 overall. They chased LaBarbera quickly, and Ilya Bryzgalov came out for the second and third periods.

The Coyotes scored the next two goals as the Sens eased off on the gas, but Kovalev scored again and gave Daniel Alfredsson one of the easiest goals he'll score with a slick pass and Ottawa held on for the win.

Oh yeah, and Sergei Gonchar played his 1,000th NHL game!

Sens hero: Alex Kovalev
You read that right, Sens fans! It was Alex Kovalev Night at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday, even though it was Gonchar playing his 1,000th game. Kovy had three points (2G, 1A), four shots on net, and finished +2. You know what else he had? Five giveaways, but sometimes when a player is making plays as well as Kovalev was tonight, those giveaways are okay. Something we should all keep in mind for when Jason Spezza returns to the lineup. Back to Kovalev, though, he's at 997 994 points now; another two games like tonight and he hits a big milestone, too.

Sens hero: Sergei Gonchar
The achievement is obviously a big deal. Plus he got an assist. But although he finished -1 on the night, a lot of folks who watched the game though Sarge was the top defender for the Sens tonight. Through the season, he's impressed me as much defensively as he has offensively, which has been really surprising. I expect he'll pick up the offence a bit as the team works out their powerplay kinks, but if he keeps up this defensive presence, he'll be worth the money spent on him for this season.

Sens hero: Chris Kelly
'Kells' (great nickname, eh?) had a solid game tonight. Which has really been expected, given that his line with Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil has been the most consistent this season and last, but tonight he had seven freakin' shots on net. A game-high, naturally, and a pretty impressive one for the pass-master, as well. Especially considering he only played 12:30 of his TOI at even-strength, compared to 5:25 while short-handed.

Key to the game: Quick-strike offence
You've got think it was the two quick goals that really put this game away for Ottawa. The Coyotes, on the road, after having traveled a lot so far this year, playing their second game in as many nights and third in four nights, sees themselves go down two quickly and early? Can't say I'd be surprised that they tuned out for the first. Kudos to them for stepping back up a bit as the game went on, even if it wasn't quite enough.

Sens killer: Oliver Ekman-... umm... Larsson? Larssen? Larsson, that's it.
Kid managed to pull off a +2 in a 5-2 loss. That's no small feat. Not really a killer, though, but I figured I should note a notable accomplishment.

Shot chart:


Game highlights:

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