The Senators avenged a 5-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the most excruciating way possible on Saturday night.
The script looked like a repeat of the 5-0 game: A great start to the first period, momentum slipping in the second period, and a collapse in the third. After Craig Anderson straight up whiffed on a David Warsofsky slapshot that tied the game at 3, Jarome Iginla scored his second of the night and go-ahead goal to put the Bruins ahead 4-3. Mercifully, the tally was ruled no goal, as a review determined that Iginla had kicked the puck past Anderson.
Having the goal disallowed seemed to invigorate the Senators and they began to play hockey again. Things came to a head when, under heavy pressure in their own zone, Bobby Ryan created a breakaway for himself by attacking a Bruins defenseman, then kicking the puck to himself and deking a helpless Chad Johnson. That goal would stand, unassisted, as the game winner.
That's right, the Senators faced yet another backup goaltender. But it didn't start out that way--after shutting out the Senators in the previous game, Tuukka Rask got chased. Rask did not have a great game, and the Senators took full advantage. The first goal came on a tough rebound. A quick pass from Mika Zibanejad--playing center in place of an injured Jason Spezza--set up a 4-on-2 rush led by Cory Conacher. With Zibanejad driving the center lane, and Milan Michalek driving the right wing, Conacher found the fourth man: Cody Ceci. Ceci ripped a shot into the crowd in front, and though it didn't reach Rask, it deflected off a player directly to the fifth man, Patrick Wiercioch. Rask lunged to try to cover the shot, but he also had to pick it up through the crowd. Wiercioch made things even tougher by shooting it back against the goalie's momentum.
The Bruins would tie it up on a goal by Daniel Paille. It's impossible to begin to describe what happened here. Kyle Turris took a faceoff with wingers Jared Cowen and Ryan. Clarke MacArthur was lined up defensively alongside Erik Karlsson. The faceoff was not clean and Cowen tried to move the puck back to MacArthur, who promptly bobbled it and Paille pounced on the loose puck. Karlsson, of course, had the speed to get back, but Paille threw the puck back into space in front of the net, and Karlsson was suddenly caught over-pursuing. Paille then caught up to the puck, and put a wrister five-hole on Anderson.
Dishonorable Mention: Craig Anderson
Five-hole goals such as the one Anderson allowed are not going to allow the Senators to win many games.
Not long after that, Rask kicked out a juicy rebound off a Ceci shot. Unfortunately, he kicked the rebound directly to Kyle Turris. Meanwhile, Conacher was driving the net--it seems like this might be an effective strategy going forward--and tipped Turris' shot past Rask.
Honorable Mention: Craig Anderson
Between the second and third period, the Bruins outshot the Senators 21-19, and though they only managed 5 shots in the second period, the Senators could have easily found themselves down and out after the second frame without Anderson making some big saves.
The second period started off about as poorly as you could hope for, with Joe Corvo taking a penalty for holding Patrice Bergeron. With the score 2-1, it was the perfect opportunity for the Senators to blow it as they have so many times this season. Instead, Z. Smith took advantage of a fallen Iginla to spring Erik Condra up the wing shorthanded. Z. Smith then drove the net--shocking--splitting the two defenders to receive a return pass from Condra. He then proceeded to simply embarrass Rask. Rask expected the shot to come to the short side into his chest (the standard Ottawa Senators backhand) and instead Z. Smith slid the puck to the far side post. It was not a deke. Z. Smith doesn't have that kind of skill. He just picked a better shot than Rask expected, and that ended Rask's night.
As mentioned, Johnson came on in relief of Rask at that point and it looked like there was yet another Bruins goalie who would shut out the Senators until Ryan would score the game winner.
Sens Killer: Chad Johnson
On a night where the Senators exorcised a demon in Tukka Rask, they immediately ran into another one in Johnson. He stopped 17 of 18 shots and didn't look like he was going to allow one before Ryan finally beat him.
Dishonorable Mention: Craig Anderson
Anderson's whiff on Warsofsky's goal is totally unacceptable for the standard he has set over the past two years.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Game hanging in the balance and Ryan singlehandedly makes a play. That's why the team traded for him.
Sens Hero: Cory Conacher
With a goal and an assist, it was probably Conacher's best game of the year.
Sens Hero: Cody Ceci
There's just no reason to take him out of the lineup with the way he's playing. He'll get credited with assists tonight, but neither one was the result of a clever pass or anything. It was just his ability to shoot the puck like a professional. Ceci's shots create rebounds. Karlsson should take notes!