Everyone in the photo got named a hero. For real. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Interesting game tonight. It went a little bit like this:
And then... the floodgates opened, as everyone from the top line got in on the action. Alfie scored. And then Filip Kuba put one in. Absolutely ridiculous.
The play in this game was pretty even, even if the shots weren't--Florida outshot Ottawa 44-31. Still, there was a really promising sign: The fourth line kept the team in the game until the stars woke up, and then they took the game over. These are the kinds of things that the Senators need to have happen if they're going to win consistently. As a matter of fact, this game is best recapped by the avalanche of heroes you're about to read, so let's get to that.
Sens Hero: Kaspars Daugavins
Probably played his best game of the season with a goal and an assist. And what an assist it was: on the penalty kill, he sprung Daniel Alfredsson on a breakaway with a perfect pass. Now, Alfie was not coming off the bench to create this breakaway--it was a great read by both forwards. Daugavins played the fewest minutes of any Senator, so he really made them count. It was great to see.
(read on for all the heroes...)
Sens Hero: Jim O'Brien
Not only because he scored his first NHL goal in the game, but because his line was the best line for much of the first period, and he was the best player on that line. His goal was the result of a fantastic individual effort, with a wraparound into an open net--he simply beat Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen to the far post.
Sens Hero: Brian Lee
While his partner provided a steadying presence, Lee got to show off a little offensively tonight, recording two assists, which was better than Erik Karlsson. Lee was a primary factor in both of Ottawa's first two goals, and that's incredibly encouraging to see.
Sens Hero: Milan Michalek
Only credited with three shots on the night, Michalek had a goal and an assist, and continued his recent intense play with ridiculous abandon. Both of his points were the results of great effort. His goal was a fantastic tip, and his assist was a threaded pass to a fellow hero...
Sens Hero: Bobby Butler
What a game from Butler. He only had a goal to show for his efforts, but his effort level is at a ridiculous level right now, and it's making his whole line better. Tonight's goal was simply the result of putting his stick on the ice. Spezza fed Michalek, who fed Butler a redirection into an open net. But you know what? The Butler from earlier in the season doesn't have the confidence to make that play correctly.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
Three assists on the night. That tells you everything you need to know. He was strong all over the ice.
Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
A goal and an assist for the ageless one. But what a goal. I already mentioned how Daugavins set up the goal with a perfect pass, but Alfie's tally put the Sens up 4-1. A goal for Florida on the power play would have made the score 3-2. Instead, the Ottawa captain puts together the perfect backbreaker. Florida was done in this game after the shorty, and you could read it in their body language and their play.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
He was a little shaky giving up a goal to Shawn Matthias, but he kept his team in the game until they could take over. Anderson didn't need to be spectacular, but he did need to be steady, and for the most part, he was. He finished the game with a .955 save percentage, and as he does so often when he's in the zone, made most of his saves look nonchalant.
Honorable Mention: Jared Cowen
Hansel and Gretel's long-lost cousin led all defensemen with his plus-3 rating. He played a very steady game for the second night in a row and was rewarded for it once again.
Honorable Mention: Filip Kuba
His goal was a wicked one-timer that was totally unnecessary. The game was well in hand, so this was nothing but a display of killer instinct from a player crucial to Ottawa's success this year.
Honorable Mention: Zack Smith
Performed two rhinoplasties tonight. Pro bono!
Honorable Mention: Alex Auld
No, not really. Just checking to see if you're reading through all of these.
If you're wondering if all of these players deserved this praise, the answer is an unequivocal yes. This game was a rising tsunami of Ottawa dominance, and a great way to finish the week.
Hilarity: Late in the game, the Panthers were called for an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty from their bench. Our own DarrenM reports that this was because they were meowing at the opposing bench. Jerks.
Now, before you watch these, you have a choice. You can either use the combined powers of my words and your imagination, or you can click play. I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you there is a correct and incorrect choice. Choose wisely.