Whenever Buffalo and Ottawa meet up, you can count on a good hockey game. The matchup between these two Northeast Division rivals has produced many close games and some of the most memorable moments in modern Senators history. Tonight saw a number of factors that led fans to believe it would be a good game -- the return of Sergei Gonchar and Filip Kuba, the first ever NHL matchup between the Brothers Foligno, and the Senators debut for Kyle Turris.
Instead of a classic, we got a dud. The 4-1 score is probably the most exciting thing about it.
Ottawa got on the board first after Zack Smith potted in the rebound from a Chris Neil (!!) breakaway midway through the first period. The play also gave Matt Carkner his first assist of the season. The Sabres tied it up in the second on a Jordan Leopold powerplay goal -- a goal that Craig Anderson probably wishes he could have back.
The Senators controlled the bulk of the play during the game (shot were 39-23 in favour of the Sens), and finally took the game over in the third period. It started as Kyle Turris earned his first point as a Sen after his hard wrister was too much for Miller to handle, giving Turris a rebound he slipped to Erik Condra for an easy goal. That was followed by a late powerplay goal from Erik Karlsson off a gorgeous Daniel Alfredsson feed in close, and finally an empty-net goal from Condra to close out the game at 4-1.
Sens Hero: Erik Condra
Some were questioning Condra's inclusion in the top-six, but he was the straw the stirred the drink on Ottawa's second line tonight. Condra showed great speed and surprising hands as he blasted five shots on net, including two goals.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
Spezza only finished with a single assist, but he was the biggest offensive threat on either team tonight. He had some dazzling dekes, led all forwards with over 23 minutes of ice-time, won 55% of his draws, and had 4 shots on net to accompany his assist.
Sens Hero: Chris Neil
Neil had a great night, taking no dumb penalties while playing a very physical game: he finished with 10 hits, 6 more than anyone else on the ice. Not only that, but he led all players with 6 shots on net.
The Ottawa Senators' newest player had just over 16 minutes of ice-time tonight, finished +2, and was dynamite in the face-off circle, winning 7 of 9 draws. He was solid in all three zones, and made a couple of key defensive plays -- notably saving a probable goal when Sergei Gonchar turned the puck over right in front of Craig Anderson. Turris assisted on the game-winner with a great rebound pass to Erik Condra, and seemed to get better as the game went along.