With their most impressive effort in a long time, the Ottawa Senators defeated the Florida Panthers by a 5-1 score on Wednesday night. The defence was solid, the goaltender was there when the defence wasn't, the powerplay was clicking, and the goal scorers were scoring. Bobby Butler led the way with two goals for Ottawa, and was supported by Ryan Shannon, Milan Michalek, and Jason Spezza on the offensive side of the puck.
With the win, the Sens broke a 10-game home losing streak and avoided tying a franchise record for consecutive home losses. And with the win, they put together their first two-game winning "streak" since Dec. 23-26, and considering the players in the lineup for Ottawa tonight, this one's a fair bit more impressive. The energy brought to the lineup from guys like Bobby Butler, Colin Greening, Jim O'Brien, and Andre Benoit seems to be making the rest of the squad re-discover the raw enjoyment of playing hockey; the fact that the team's so far out of any playoff picture that there's no pressure probably isn't hurting, either.
Sens Hero: Bobby Butler
An outstanding game for Butler tonight. His first career multi-goal game was, by no coincidence, also on the night where he fired a career-high seven shots on net. His second goal was especially impressive, an unassisted marker where he just sniped a shot over the should of Scott Clemmensen. Butler's now ninth in team goal scoring, through just 14 games, and is looking more and more comfortable every game.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
No doubt about the fact that Spezza's the leader in Ottawa, and as he goes, so goes the team. Tonight, he was going in the right direction, and finished with a very nice goal (he tore up the right side of the ice and fired a shot top-shelf over Clemmensen's shoulder) plus a couple assists. He had five shots on goal and another six towards the net, but it was an off-night in the faceoff circle as he won only nine of 19 draws.
Sens Hero: Filip Kuba
Amazing, I know, but you've got to give Kuba credit for putting together some very good games of late, culminating in his best game of the season on Wednesday. He actually led all Senators skaters in ice time with 23:21 TOI, far higher than some of his lesser nights this season. He finished with a couple of assists and was +3. He was also a huge part of why Ottawa's powerplay actually looked coherent tonight, holding strong at the blue line while Shannon acted more as a rover on the other point.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
Anderson wasn't nearly as busy on Wednesday night as he was in his Senators' debut, but he still hasn't allowed an opposition shot to get past him: The one goal that did go in was a pass deflected off Chris Phillips' skate and into the net. Andy's numbers as a Senator, through two games: 2-0, 0.48 GAA, 0.986 SP. Unreal.