Senators eke out 2-1 shootout win over Predators

JGP, shown life-size here. - Frederick Breedon

It wasn't a great game, but it was a great result.

My sister is demanding that I put something in this recap about her, since I attended this game with her and my brother-in-law. According to her, it would be "literary gold."

So, here's something about her: Anytime a puck went into the stands near us, she cringed like she was going to get hit. It didn't matter if it wasn't headed towards our section. Any puck in the air spelled immenent doom. More on this later.

Anyway, the Ottawa Senators did not play a great game on Saturday night, but they didn't need to to beat a Nashville Predators team that rolled out Marek Mazanec in goal. Of course, true to form, the Sens made Mazenec look like an All-Star. Thankfully, Craig Anderson was better, consistently swallowing up shots with no rebound.

The first period was largely uneventful, so I don't really want to talk about it. The Senators wound up being outshot 10-7, despite having the only power play of the period.

In the second, Kyle Turris took advantage of a weird bounce caused by a Cory Conacher forecheck. Turris banged a shot past a surprised Mazanec. Everyone was expecting the puck to go the other way. Turris simply had to shoot. Unfortunately, former Senator Mike Fisher would tie things up before the period ended, shooting home a tip of a tip past a helpless Anderson.

The third period was worrisome, as the Predators took the play to the Senators for most of the remainder of the game. They weren't able to beat Anderson, however, and though they were able to spend most of the period in the Senators' zone, they weren't able to put together many dangerous scoring chances, or so it seemed. Things came to a head in overtime, when Marc Methot was penalized for holding Fisher's stick, and the Senators were forced to kill a penalty 4-on-3. And though the entire Bridgestone Arena implored their players to shoot, the power play wasn't quite able to generate the scoring chances it needed.

In the shootout, Mika Zibanejad and Jason Spezza both scored--yes, really--perhaps taking advantage of Mazanec's inexperience, while Anderson stopped both Nashville shooters.

Honorable Mention: Craig Anderson

I hate watching him play live, because I can never tell if he's playing well or just getting help from his defense. I wasn't even impressed by his save on Viktor Stallberg's penalty shot--which, by the way, was not a breakaway.

Dishonorable Mention: Kyle Turris

It's so rare that a goal-scorer would get a dishonorable mention, but I swear Turris was going to give me a stroke tonight. Each time he gained the zone, he'd turn around, coast in backwards, and look for the trailer. So there was no threat of him shooting, and the Predators defenders knew it. It was absolutely infuriating.

Sens Zero: Joe Corvo

He's worse in person.

Honorable Mention: Cory Conacher and Jean-Gabriel Pageau

These guys are so small. It really makes you appreciate the level of effort they have to put out to succeed in the NHL.

Puck Danger: So, my sister was nervous about getting hit by a puck. The very first shot Erik Karlsson took was deflected and came flying into the stands right by us. I immediately jumped up and screamed at Karlsson for being awesome, only to turn around and realize the puck hurt a little girl in the crowd. At first, I thought she had been hit in the head. Luckily, it was just her hand, and she came back with an ice pack. Did the crowd think I was a jerk for cheering Karlsson hurting a small child? Yes.

Will Mike Fisher turn around if you yell "MIKE FISHER, YOU'RE AWESOME!" really loudly? No.

Is Mike Fisher still really awesome? Yes.

Swedish Moments: Coming out of the first intermission, Erik Karlsson went over to say something to Stallberg.

Scouting report - Jared Cowen: For those talking about Cowen's turning ability, you're wrong. It's fine. The flaws I saw in Cowen's game were different. Primarily--and I don't know how to describe this well--is the way he plays with his head up. He was glancing around constantly, like he was trying to read everything on the ice all at once. But little snapshots don't provide great information, and so he looks like he's a half-second behind everything. It's really weird, but, again, I think it's a manifestation of inexperience, and something that can be corrected with time. He looked at his best when he was decisive in the choice to attack in the offensive zone and carry the puck behind the Nashville net. I'd like to see him bring that same level of intensity to his defensive play, but defense is reactionary rather that proactive, and so that can be hard to do. Still, I think we're all off-base on this guy. The issues here are not physical--they're about processing speed, and that makes it look like he's struggling with other things.

There is a physical issue as well, however. Cowen's physicality is being manifested right now through his arms. That makes him look weaker than he is. Not sure what's going on here, but the guy needs to drive his hips through his motions. Arm checks aren't going to get it done against good players.

Scouting report: Jason Spezza

Spezza's hands are playing a different game than his legs. He needs to adjust.

Sportsmanship: After the game, a little kid came up to me. I had been helping the officials loudly for most of the game and embarrassing my family, but the kid was not looking to fight. He just wanted to shake hands. So I shook his hand and told him, "Good game." It was kind of adorable. Sorry for screaming "IN YOUR FACE!" to all of section 104, kid. I only meant it a little bit.

Leadership:

  • Right after the anthems, Turris gave Cowen a solid "let's go" whack on the leg. They were still standing in line on the blue line.
  • Marc Methot is pretty vocal. At one point during a stoppage in play in the third, he huddled all five guys up and gave them what appeared to be a lecture. There was some pointing. I'm not sure what was said, but it looked like more than a faceoff discussion to me.
  • Kyle Turris talks to Clarke MacArthur on faceoffs, but not Bobby Ryan.

Ninja Warrior: Colin Greening kept ducking punches during his fight. The crowd was buzzing after that performance. Everyone was really impressed with how long the fight lasted and how Greening dodged some hits.

Racism: My brother-in-law, who does not follow hockey, and has never heard of Zibanejad before tonight, was able to read the back of his jersey and pronounce his name almost perfectly on his first try. Professional announcers who made jokes about it being too hard to pronounce are jerks.

WTF: The team deployed a 2-1-2 look for a faceoff in the offensive zone with the line of Spezza, Z. Smith, and Mark Stone. No one lined up at left wing, as Z. Smith lined up behind Spezza. I don't get it. Spezza wins the faceoff back to Z. Smith, who either has the option to shoot or move the puck to Karlsson? Seems to me that if you're going to set up that play, you'd want Spezza--the 30-goal guy--in the pivot position to shoot or pass, and let Z. Smith deal with the faceoff. Ultimately, Spezza lost the draw. The unit then lined up the same way again, but with Cowen in the LW spot. I'm at a loss for what the intended goal of this particular look was.

In addition, after about 10 minutes into the 3rd, Nashville lined up in a 1-3-1. In a tie game! At that point, I knew overtime was inevitable.

Shot Chart!

Later.

Highlights:


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