Once again, Ottawa showed that it could play with the best teams in the league when executing. The Senators jumped all over the Capitals in their home rink, staking out a 3-1 lead after the first period by firing 13 shots at Caps goalie Jose Theodore. Meanwhile, thinly veiled Sens Zero Brian Elliott managed to give up one goal on just four shots. Still, the Sens had to be feeling good about a hot start against the East's best team.
Of course, the Capitals are the East's best team for a reason and responded with a two-goal second period. The Senators faltered slightly in the middle frame -- though they managed 12 shots, they couldn't convert any. They constantly killed any momentum: an early penalty from Erik Karlsson, followed by an iffy hooking call on Nick Foligno, and capped off the period's disjointed effort with a retaliatory slashing call on Chris Neil.
It looked like the collapse was on (again) when Mathieu Perreault buried a backhand shot just 24 seconds into the third and future captain Mike Fisher was called for holding just one minute and nineteen seconds later. Instead, the team responded with one of their most aggressive penalty kills of the year and Elliott made some good saves to keep the team in it. It was at this point that thinly veiled Sens Hero Jason Spezza decided he was done with all the bullcrap and it was time to score another goal. Spezza's goal was not pretty, but when things are going his way, they really go his way. His attempt to pass through the crease to a wide open Alex Kovalev instead banked off the rear end of a Capitals defenseman and into the net.
At that point, both teams exchanged chances for the rest of the period, with the Caps looking visibly less aggressive than they were in the second to me. At least... until about six minutes left in the game, when they seemed to realize the Sens were playing for overtime. From there on out, they poured it on Ottawa, who were content with getting the puck to center ice. Nothing doing, however, and off to overtime the teams went.
The four-on-four format of overtime favored Ottawa as it has all year. On the power play, Karlsson found Kovalev camped out by the net yet again. Kovalev perfectly tipped a perfect pass (yeah, a lot of perfect things happened on the play) from what seemed like an impossible angle -- someone call a physicist because some laws were broken. Game over; Sens win. That's five in a row after losing five in a row. Will the real Senators please stand up?
Sens Hero: The Power Play
So, apparently when you have more players on the ice than the other team, it's easier to score. Who knew? Certainly not anyone watching the Senators this year. But as abysmal as the PP has been at times, it was as outstanding tonight: The Sens went 3 for 4 with the man advantage, with every conceivable kind of goal scored. There was a beautiful tip by Spezza, the aforementioned bank-in by Spezza, and Kovalev's magic bullet. The team worked for their goals tonight, and it showed.
I have been especially critical of the power play all year long, so they deserve the praise for their efforts tonight. Also worth noting: The Caps were just 1 for 5 on their chances. The Senators penalty killers worked just as hard as their fellow special teams unit, but the PK has been good all year, so no heroes for them.
Sens Killer: Alexander Semin
Jeeze-o-pete, does this guy own Brian Elliott or what? Semin has scored at will against the Senators this year, burying two more goals after dropping a hat trick on them the last time the teams played. He could probably score through Elliott, Pascal Leclaire, Not Martin Brodeur, Anton Volchenkov, and Andy Sutton combined from behind his own net right now. Alex Ovechkin gets all the hype -- and not undeservedly -- but Semin can rip it. He frightens me every time he has the puck.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
Spezza's four-point night meant that he had a hand in every goal until overtime. He had the primary assist on Peter Regin's goal (What, I didn't mention that Regin opened the scoring just 1:24 into the game? Or that Regin now has 5 points (4G, 1A) in his last five games? Hamlet has to love playing one the top line.) as well as setting up Chris Campoli's 4th goal of the year.
That's right. In addition to his two goals, Spezza created offense for Regin and Campoli. He's throwing points out right now like the Joker throws out cash during a parade -- but without the homicidal gassing at the end. And, sadly, without Prince providing the soundtrack. One thing is certain: Spezza has put the team on his back, and the offense is flowing through him right now. It's fun to watch.
Sens Killer: Mike Green
Green played an absurd 31:44, scored a goal on four shots (only Ovechkin had more, with 5) and was a plus one. He also produced several strong defensive plays. If he's not a Norris finalist, I'll be shocked. He was strong all over the ice tonight and I was worried his game-tying goal would be the one that broke the Senators' wills tonight. Thankfully, it wasn't.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Just another three point night for Ottawa's best defenseman on the night. That's six assists in the last two games for Karlsson. If he keeps producing like this, the Senators could make quite a splash in the playoffs.
It should also be mentioned that King K went one-on-one with Alex Ovechkin right at Ottawa's blue line. Karlsson won the battle and kicked the puck out of the zone.
Bro was on.
Sens Zero: Brian Elliott
Ottawa won this game despite Elliott and not because of him. That's disconcerting. Elliott has started three games against the Capitals this year and allowed 12 goals for a horrific GAA of 4.00. He is also undefeated against them. I'm not really sure how that's possible, but there you have it. Still, it should be mentioned that Elliott also made his fair share of timely saves. However, if he played as strongly as he has shown in the past, the game would have been out of reach early on for Washington.
Stat of the night: The Senators blocked 28 shots to the Capitals' 8. Think about that. Then think about the fact that Volchenkov didn't play in this game. Last time these teams met, Android blocked 11, including 8 from Ovechkin. Andy Sutton stepped up and led the way with seven blocks tonight. I don't know whether the Caps are spoiled by opening shooting lanes easily or the Sens just had an extra willingness to get in front of pucks tonight, but the results speak for themselves.
Shot Chart of the night: