Sens Killer: Officiating
I'm not one to typically gripe about officiating--I believe things generally balance out. That was not the case tonight. There were some minor annoyances in the first period in terms of missed calls, but things got silly early in the second: Nick Foligno was ejected for charging Keaton Ellerby. Just one problem--Foligno didn't charge.
Accoring to the NHL Rulebook:
Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A "charge" may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
Foligno didn't leave his feet or take a long run at Ellerby. In fact, Foligno made an effort to let up and make sure the hit was not as violent as it could have been. There was no initial penalty call, although in the scrum afterwards, Ed Jovanovski bounced Foligno's head off the glass in retaliation. That was not called, but after a conference, Foligno was assessed a five-minute major and game misconduct for the play, which, again, was not whistled immediately. Foligno's shock from the bench was evident.
During the ensuing power play, Michal Repik was credited with a power play goal that went in off of his skate. The play was reviewed, and though it was determined there was no kicking motion, goals have been overturned for much less this year.
Later in the third, the Panthers would get a second power play goal generated by a horribly blatant Brian Campbell dive.
I won't go so far as to call the officiating biased against Ottawa, but there's no doubt that the Senators were on the receiving end of some terrible calls tonight, and they were not the beneficiaries of any such similar calls themselves. That makes offense difficult to sustain.
(read on for heroes and zeroes...)
Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
Alfie had a three-point night and that's no coincidence--he was the Senators' best forward in the game. Alfie was all over the ice tonight, leading the power play, contributing penalty-killing time, and looking fast and sneaky at even strength. In a game where offense was hard to sustain, the captain led the way. I'd expect nothing less from Alfie. His next goal will be number 400.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Outstanding game from the mulleted one. Both his points--a goal and an assist--came from his willingness to shoot while on the power play. His assist was the result of a perfect snap shot off a won faceoff, and both Jason Spezza and Chris Neil in front of Scott Clemmensen. Neil tipped the puck for the goal, and Clemmensen had no chance. Karlsson's goal was similar, except his shot wasn't looking for a tip--it was targeted for the top corner and aimed perfectly.
Both of Karlsson's points came on the power play, and he was still a plus-2 on the night, so he was on the ice for all four of Ottawa's goals. As usual, I'm lying. Karlsson's goal came at even strength.
Sens Hero: Chris Neil
As mentioned above, Neil put in the Senators' first power play goal of the night. He also recorded a beautiful assist on Alfie's goal: With Clemmensen strangely choosing to play the puck on a penalty kill and then mishandling it, Neil got possession behind the net and flipped the puck over the top. Alfie was waiting in front and had the drive to bury it into an open net. He also had six hits, the most for either team, and one of those was one that knocked the Panthers' Stephen Weiss from the game. Hopefully it's not a concussion, but it was a clean hit and a huge loss for the Panthers.
Sens Hero: Erik Condra
After putting up two goals in his last game, Condra saved a goal tonight. That's not hyperbole; he swiped a puck off the goal line. Condra also formed a formidable penalty-killing duo with Zack Smith during the five-minute major. They repeatedly rushed up the ice to generate shots on goal, and you really got the feeling they could have gotten a short-handed goal with just one more chance.
Honorable Mention: Bobby Butler
Butler scored the game winning goal, a deflection off a skate. It was just as well, because the recipient of the pass was Erik Karlsson, and I believe Karlsson would have scored anyway. Butler also hit a post earlier in the game, so he could have had a two-goal night. On a night where the Sens were missing both Peter Regin and Nick Foligno, Butler needed to step up. He made a good start tonight.
Rock you like a Turricane: Ottawa's newest addition had another decent game. He had a few chances early, and then settled down, displaying some good defensive play in his own zone.He also assisted on Bobby Butler's game-winning goal, giving him two assist on two game-winners in two games. Turris gained the zone, circled back to survey the situation, found Butler on the other side of the ice, and we know what happened from there. He's shown good instincts in two games now, and you have to think his play will only improve as he gets more practice time with his teammates.
Ha, awesome: Zenon Konopka, who had another good game, tried to beat an icing in a footrace. Not much doubt how that one turned out.
What the hell: Strange sequence by Jason Spezza, who was held without a point in the game. He found himself so wide open in the slot that he seemed not to know what to do. With the crowd imploring him to shoot, he pumped for the shot once, didn't, pumped twice, still didn't shoot, and finally shot on the third pump and missed the net high.