The intensity level for Saturday's game was a pretty big fall off from the previous two Ottawa Senators games, but the team was still able to keep pace with the Florida Panthers until they could score, and held on for a 3-2 win. Although the Sens went down early in the second period when Stephen Weiss tucked a backhand past Brian Elliott, Ottawa scored three straight--with Erik Karlsson assisting on all three--with Daniel Alfredsson scoring the decisive goal on one of Ottawa's three powerplays on the night.
Sens heroes: Erik Karlsson, Brian Elliott, Jason Spezza, Peter Regin
Karlsson's an interesting case. Just as you're about to yell at your TV because he's pinching so deeply into the offensive zone, his decision turns out to have been the right one and the Senators pot a goal on the play. At least that's what happened tonight, and Karlsson got three assists as a result. Andy Sutton has given Karlsson the freedom to jump into the play, and he's taken advantage--and he also seems abundantly aware that he can be a little more rough when he's backed up by his 6'6", 250lb defensive partner. Remains to be seen how Karlsson's game will fit into the playoff atmosphere, but it will be fun to watch.
Again tonight, Elliott was clutch when he needed to be--notably in the mid-third period, when the Sens ran into penalty troubles. Ottawa took four penalties in a span of 2:22, and they scored one goal on those powerplays to make it a close game, but Elliot didn't give them any more than that. He only faced 22 shots, but he made some great saves (his glove looked superb). And it was his seventh straight win in the second game of a back-to-back series, which is just weird.
Spezza had another two assists tonight--give him eight points (4G, 4A) in the last five games--and led the Senators offensively once again. Although he needs to work on his faceoff percentage heading into the playoffs, he really does appear to be ready to lead this team through the dance (or at least co-lead, along with Alfredsson).
And really answering the bell lately, tonight being no different, has been Peter Regin. He came back from the break slowly, but two absolute snipe-job shots in two games has given him one point in each of the last four games--not coincidentally, each wins. He was the guy expected to step up in the absence of Milan Michalek, and has not disappointed.
Sens zeros: Alex Kovalev
I'm not overly concerned with Kovalev's quiet (alright, invisible) game tonight, but there's no denying that he was less than impressive. He missed last game with his injury, and was questionable tonight, so it could be he's nursing an injury; he was apparently in that same situation at the start of the year, and really picked up once it passed, so hopefully he breaks out of this current funk right in time for the post-season.
Sens killers: Cory Stillman
Perhaps the quietest two-point night in recent memory, Stillman was the Panthers' best player, statistically speaking. Very few players on the Cats stood out too much, although Nathan Horton was fairly obnoxious--particularly for his unpenalized punch to Matt Carkner's ugly, Hottawa Senator-award winning mug.
Statistical anomaly: Shot blocks
Karlsson had more blocked shots (one) than Anton Volchenkov tonight (zero). That's just weird. Sutton, for the record, continued his campaign to show up Volchenkov by blocking six Panther shots on the night.
Walking wounded: Anton Volchenkov
Android took the worst of an Andy Sutton hit--Sutton was trying to take out Weiss on the game-opening goal--and was forced to leave the game. Looked like he took a knee to the rib, so that may have been is problem, but early reports are optimistic that he shouldn't miss much time.