"Hey, is that the Zack Smith over there? Maybe we should invite him to hang out after the game."
Perhaps the only thing more depressing than a blowout loss is one where it looks like your team is going to win up until the last few minutes, and somehow escapes with no points. That was the story for the Ottawa Senators tonight, who held a 2-1 lead with under 6 minutes left in the game only to leave the game with a 3-2 loss.
The Senators got on the board first, as Jared Cowen sent a Stars defender flying before flipping the puck to a wide open Erik Condra, who buried the puck for his third of the season. The Stars replied a couple of minutes later with Steve Ott's powerplay goal.
After an ugly second period, the Senators regained the lead with ten minutes left in the game after Milan Michalek knocked the puck out of the air and fired a quick shot that beat Andrew Raycroft. The Senators looked like they might be able to hold onto the lead, but collapsed in the last six minutes, allowing goals from Radek Dvorak and Eric Nystrom. The Sens pressed hard for the last few minutes, getting a couple of great chances, but simply couldn't pull out the win.
Sens Killer: Andrew Raycroft
Raycroft made 33 saves on the night to keep his team in the game. No save was bigger than his last two: the first being a shot from the point through traffic, the second being a rebound shot from Daniel Alfredsson that Raycroft snapped up in his glove.
Sens Hero: Jared Cowen
Cowen was leaned on heavily by Coach Paul MacLean tonight, playing over 22 minutes in the game while Brian Lee and David Rundblad both clocked in with 11 minutes apiece. Cowen handled the icetime well, and ended the game tied with Milan Michalek for a team high +2 on the night. He racked up 5 hits, including one on Tomas Vincour that had him wincing as he left the ice). One of those hits was also instrumental in Erik Condra's goal, where Cowen got his first NHL assist.
Sens Heroes: Erik Condra and Milan Michalek
The Senators' goal scorers both had strong nights. Condra's goal opened the scoring, as his line with Kaspars Daugavins and Zack Smith continued to cause havoc for opposing teams. Michalek continued his torrid goal scoring pace this season with an incredible release on his goal tonight, one of 7 shots he directed to the net (2 were blocked, 1 missed the net).
Sens Zero: Jason Spezza
Spezza tried to do too much all night long, and it resulted in a number of squandered chances. There are only so many times that one can watch Spezza try to beat three Stars players at their blueline before getting nauseous. He also had several scoring chances he created (to his credit) that he simply could not bury, most notably a two-on-one where he slowed down to the point that Sheldon Souray caught him. Souray.