Really, it was all over quickly for the Ottawa Senators: Daniel Briere and Mike Richards scored within the first 4:14 of the game, and although Milan Michalek and Nick Foligno scored late in the second to get the game close, the final frame was all Philadelphia as the Flyers cruised to a 6-2 victory. It was Ottawa's tenth loss in the last 11 games.
But, as we discussed in the GameThread, there was something good to see despite the 6-2 loss: The Senators, for likely the first time this year, got pissed off. They showed some emotion, showed some fight, and decided not to just mail it in when they went down. They stood up, made their presence felt, and made the game at least a little more exciting for the fans still watching them play. Just a few days removed from Daniel Alfredsson's insistence that his team is "not going to go down without a fight", it almost seems like he was speaking literally.
Sens Zero: Brian Elliott
Not much that I can say that the six goals Elliott let in doesn't say already, but it was a bad one for him. Most of them were stoppable, and some of them were terrible. His save percentage on the night was an abysmal 0.728, which will certainly hurt his season numbers. Elliott's now lost his last ten starts, and it's tough to imagine he'll get the next one; whether Mike Brodeur or Robin Lehner gets it, you might as well give someone else a shot in there.
Sens Killer: Mike Richards
Richards brought his A-game to Thursday night's game: Two goals and two assists tonight, including notching the game winner tonight. He had four shots on goal (of only 23 the Flyers had total), and was better than average in the playoff circle.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
Continuing his terrific play of late, Michalek scored his third short-handed goal of the season to get Ottawa back into it, even if the comeback was nowhere near completed. He fired five shots on goal, was one of only three Senators above even in plus-minus. Let's hope this is the Michalek we can expect to see for the remainder of his time in Ottawa, because it's a complete reversal from the first half of the season, and his contract looks like a steal right now.
Sens Hero: Ryan Shannon
I'm giving this honour to Shannon tonight for two reasons: First, he fired a rocket that beat Sergei Bobrovsky but rang off the post, and second--and more importantly--he challenged Daniel Briere to a fight late in the game after Briere threw a wicked slash at Brian Lee. I'm not Briere's biggest fan at the best of time (in fact, despite the fact that he's a local boy, I can't stand him), but the slash was brutal, and the fact that he wouldn't fight Ryan Shannon to answer for his actions is... well... brutal. There aren't many players Briere is bigger than, but Shannon is one of them. But bottom line, good on Shannon. He also finished even and played over 14 minutes of ice time.
Tough Luck: Bobby Butler
Very rough game for the rookie tonight. He appeared to score his first career goal but had it called back, and ended up -3 on the night. He might get a few more games before being re-assigned, but the stats don't look so good in this one.
Fight Night in Philly:
Got to say it was pretty ugly for both Briere and Jody Shelley to decline invitations to fight late in the game, well after it was in the books. Briere isn't so bad (although may I repeat he was afraid to fight Ryan Shannon), but Shelley (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) refused to stand up to Matt Carkner (6-foot-4, 229 pounds) only to drop the gloves later with Chris Neil (6-foot-1, 209 pounds). Not to take anything away from Neil, but if that's not picking your spots, I don't know what is.
Still, plenty of fights ended up happening: The nonsense started with a Claude Giroux hit on Jesse Winchester (I thought it was a clean hit, but Denis Savard thought it was a "cheapshot"); Neil and Jarkko Ruutu went at Giroux, and Winchester ended up dropping the gloves with Jeff Carter. A few minutes later, Nick Foligno dropped them with Giroux, and then on one memorable shift Carkner squared off with Sean O'Donnell, Shelley finally dropped them with Neil, and Ruutu danced with Scott Hartnell. Hilarious moment when O'Donnell--he of 1,738 career penalty minutes--completely turtled in his fight with Carkner. Brutal.