It wasn't pretty at times and shouldn't have been as close as it was, but a win is a win, and the Ottawa Senators managed to pull one out on Monday afternoon against the New Jersey Devils.
It seems like this is the way it's going to go for the rest of this season.
With such a green and workmanlike roster, the Ottawa Senators are going to have a lot of games like this one: Lots of great scoring chances, but with few players skilled or experienced enough to cash in on them, they won't often translate into goals. But with continued hard work and more stellar play from their goaltenders, we might see a few more wins this season of the type Ottawa walked away with on Monday afternoon against the New Jersey Devils.
Although special teams were an issue for the Sens, they carried the play for most of the 60 minutes. Defensive breakdowns were there for Ottawa, but whenever they happened Ben Bishop looked very comfortable stopping all but one. Jersey's lone goal came off a broken play just 90 seconds into the game and made it look like it might be a long afternoon, but things picked up from there.
As I said above, Ottawa had their chances. To name a few: The team hit three posts; Zack Smith had an open net to shoot on after Erik Condra made a great short-handed rush, but it was blocked by Ilya Kovalchuk; and Daniel Alfredsson bumbled a puck on a 3-on-1 negating the chance. But they couldn't find a way to make those work. It wasn't until Jakob Silfverberg set Alfie up in front of Martin Brodeur that the Senators could finally get on the board, ending their post-Erik Karlsson injury scoreless drought at just over 137 minutes. You could sense the relief in Alfredsson, in particular, who jumped into the arms of Chris Phillips after releasing a lot of frustration on behalf of his teammates.
The Sens and Devils stayed knotted up through regulation and overtime, so the game headed to a shootout, where Silfverberg ended it with an absolute rocket that cleanly beat Brodeur high glove-side. It was a beauty, and a much-needed two points as important in proving to the Sens' players that they could do it without Karlsson and Jason Spezza as it was in the standings.
Sens Hero: Ben Bishop
While the Sens were blowing glorious scoring opportunities, Bishop was standing tall (literally HAHAHAHAHAHA) in the net and keeping them in the game. Last year, he lost 1-0 to the Devils; this year, thankfully, his team was able to give him enough support to avoid it happening again. I'm not sure how Bishop and Craig Anderson are going to split games moving forward, but the team should be confident regardless of which one is in net.
Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
Naturally. Was there anyone else who would end the scoring drought? Especially since Alfredsson had (very uncharacteristically) blown perfect scoring chances in the last two games. It's becoming obvious that Alfie's not going to be able to put the team on his back every game, but you could see in his game tonight the leadership that he brings. Alfredsson was highly motivated in the game, and it was fitting that he scored the game-tying goal that got these guys into overtime.
Sens Hero: Jakob Silfverberg
Three moments stand out for Silfverberg: The first came in the second period, when he broke out of the corner in New Jersey's end, cut into the slot, and fired a laserbeam shot that hit the post; the second, when he set up Alfredsson for the game-tying goal with some great work in deep; and the third was his amazing shootout goal. He might not look completely comfortable just yet, but he's a gamebreaker. He did it on Monday afternoon, and I'm pretty sure we'll see him do it once or twice more this season.
Sens Zero: Puck Luck
This completely fictitious but entirely relevant factor has been hurting Ottawa for the last few games, and it almost looked like it would be a Sens Killer today. But thankfully things turned around, the puck started going Ottawa's way, and the team was able to actually score a goal.
Honourable Mention: Sergei Gonchar
This is as much for his recent play as it was for his game against the Devils, but I found myself thinking one very unexpected thought during the game: Is Gonchar Ottawa's best skater right now? He led the Sens in ice time with over 27 minutes, and all of it was well-earned. He's looked better this season than he had in the previous two years of his contract, and his composure, experience, and ability to advance the puck and play capable defence are extremely valuable to this team in its current position.