Anderson leaves on stretcher, Senators lose 4-3 in shootout

Maybe not the best ice this afternoon. - Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo

It didn't start well, but the Ottawa Senators played one of their best games of the season until everything went to hell in overtime.

Note: Anything that happened in this game is going to be overshadowed by Valeri Nichushkin kneeing Craig Anderson in the head during overtime. A brutal way to end an exciting game. Nobody likes seeing stretchers, no matter who the person getting hurt is. It could be your least-favourite player or your least-favourite person. It doesn't matter. Best wishes to the health of Craig Anderson. He was upright and walking in the dressing room after the game, so hopefully it's not too serious.

Within 30 seconds of puck drop, Patrick Wiercioch and Chris Phillips forced Craig Anderson had to make a great save on Jamie Benn that was immediately put under video review. Predictably, Ottawa took the first penalty when Wiercioch was called for holding (despite Phillips hooking an opponent). Before Dallas could capitalize, Alex Chiasson high-sticked Derek Grant to neutralize the power play. Shortly after, Bobby Ryan had the best scoring chance of the period when he made a slick move that Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was able to stop.

With seven minutes left in the first period, Valeri Nichushkin broke out on a ridiculous burst of speed, nearly getting a breakaway before being hauled down by Patrick Wiercioch. With under three minutes to go, Jared Cowen's terribly-timed hit in the offensive zone allowed Ray Whitney to breakout 1-on-1 against Erik Karlsson. Whitney fired a slap shot that beat Anderson cleanly, and the Stars finished the period up 1-0. Almost worse than the score was the Stars leading in shots 19-9. After one period.

This time within 30 seconds of the start of a period, the Stars forced a 3-on-2 and Nichushkin scored his first-career NHL goal. The culprit: not entirely certain where Chris Phillips was on that play. Wherever it was, it wasn't in his spot skating backwards. Z. Smith is not a defenceman, Chris. Speaking of Chrises, just minutes later Chris Neil more or less cross-checks Brenden Dillon's face, because he's Chris Neil and wearing an A on his jersey stands for asinine. Although the Stars did not score on the power play, Jared Cowen gave us another set of examples as to why it's inexplicable that he's being dressed over Eric Gryba, Joe Corvo, or heck, even Frederik Claesson. He's that bad.

And then, something miraculous happened: the Senators' defensive effort grew three sizes that day.

Finally, the Ottawa Senators managed a decent rush with a 3-on-2 starring Bobby Ryan, Kyle Turris, and Erik Karlsson. Ryan threw a pass beneath a diving Stephane Robidas to Karlsson, who ripped the puck past Kari Lehtonen to make it 2-1. An Alex Chiasson hooking penalty on Clarke MacArthur two minutes later led to Ottawa's first real sustained pressure of the game. No goal, but it was nice to see them not have to attempt playing defence. Near the end of the period, Matt Kassian drew a penalty on Alex Goligoski, giving Ottawa a power play. With Jason Spezza actually given real linemates, the captain ties the game.

And then, something not-miraculous happened: Mark Borowiecki connected with an Antoine Roussel pass and scored... on his own net. Besides this, it was a much quieter period with the fewest shots of the three. A Trevor Daley penalty with ten minutes left led to a very uninspired power play for the Senators, who were unable to capitalize and tie the game. Then in the dying seconds, Bobby Ryan found the puck on his stick right in front of the net, and with 10 seconds left the game was tied and off to overtime.

Two minutes in, Valeri Nichushkin fell, taking his knee into Craig Anderson's head. A stretcher came out after several minutes of dead silence. In comes Robin Lehner.

The game went to a shootout. Jamie Benn scored the only goal, giving Robin Lehner another loss despite playing only 3:16.

Sens Heroes: Kyle Turris Line
To call Turris anything but Ottawa's top centre right now would be wrong. Last season he was forced into the #1 centre position because of Spezza's injury. This season he's earned it. Clarke MacArthur is a great two-way forward who can draw penalties and is a fancy stat marvel. Bobby Ryan is the best offensive threat since Dany Heatley, and much more mobile. They were excellent again. Little wonder the first power play unit is the trio with Spezza and Karlsson. Ryan's tying goal in the dying seconds was pretty nice, too.

Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
When you score the tying goal with ten seconds left on the clock, you get two mentions.

Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Two points while trying to play both defensive spots after being paired with Jared Cowen.

Sens Hero/Zero: Mark Borowiecki
A good start to his season and scored his first NHL goal. Unfortunately it was in his own net.

Sens Zero: Chris Neil
Go home, you're awful.

Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
Go to Chris Neil's home, you're awful. This was actually one of Cowen's better games, and he got more comfortable as it went on. Still not very good by NHL standards.

Sens Not-Quite Zero: Cory Conacher
Drew a penalty that led to a goal, but had a 10% Corsi For 5-on-5. Even Matt Kassian was better.

Sens Killer: Valeri Nichushkin
His first NHL goal (not on his own net) and was dangerous all afternoon. Speedy and deadly: he also took out Craig Anderson in overtime.

Shot Chart:

Shotchart-november03-2013_medium

Highlights: Forthcoming

Assorted thoughts: I've grown to really like the Dallas Stars' jerseys, it's a very nice hue of green ... Denis Potvin described Tyler Seguin as a future leader of the Dallas Stars, the poor team ... Derek Grant, like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, being a penalty killer so early in his career is pretty incredible ... Dean Brown's on-air birthday celebration was disappointing after Potvin's ... Maybe every night should be Military Appreciation Night. Sure helped attendance ... Sergei Gonchar does not stand up to physical pressure very well, but he's as patient as ever with the puck ... Jason Spezza is better with better linemates. Who knew?

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