Getting a win in the home-opener against the New York Islanders to start a long stretch of home games was of extreme importance to the Ottawa Senators, and they took it in overtime - although just barely.
The Senators' first two goals can be attributed to luck - Peter Regin scored in the first period after the refs failed to blow down the play after the puck hit the netting above the glass, while Matt Carkner snuck the puck past Martin Biron in a fluke "put it on net" play, giving him his first NHL goal. The Senators then went to blow a two-goal lead after Kyle Okposo undressed Anton Volchenkov before scoring the first for the Isles, while Matt Moulson notched a powerplay goal in the third period. The Senators had two powerplay opportunities in the third period, but couldn't find the back of the net on either.
Luckily, Mike Fisher scored just 32 seconds into the overtime to give the Senators the win with a hard shot that found its way past Biron.
Other notable events? Volchenkov had a clean, hard hit on John Tavares that got the crowd into the game, proving that rookies ride free on the A-Train. Jonathan Cheechoo had his best performance in a Senators jersey, and his line with Chris Neil and Peter Regin was the strongest Senators line for the night. Neil in particular was fantastic, both in creating chances and swinging momentum to the Sens with timely hits. Pascal Leclaire was also on top of his game, making some key saves, particularly one where he flew across the crease and absolutely robbed Tavares.
On a less positive note, this was another off-game defensively for Erik Karlsson. There were numerous times where he failed to stand his ground and allowed players to get through too easily, and he took a bad penalty that resulted in the Moulson goal. I realize he's small, but as a defenseman he has to find a way to create some sort of physical presence when it's needed. Also, Cory Clouston has to try out some new line combinations, because the Foligno-Fisher-Kovalev line is definitely not working for Alex Kovalev.
It's baffling that a team with so much foward talent has failed to generate strong scoring chances, but they just don't seem to be coming. The Sens have to start that happening, because they can't rely always on the impressive defensive combination of Leclaire's goaltending and blocks from Volchenkov and Carkner. Hopefully, it's a better showing against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday.
Peter's take: Two points is two points, and I'll take it, but this offence has to kick it up a notch. As awesome as it is to see a guy like Carkner put in a two-point effort, this is not the person we should be relying on for our offence. His goals should be icing on the cake, not the whole freakin' desert. Although it's understandable this team, with so many off-season changes in the forward ranks, needs time to develop their chemistry, but Leclaire and some solid defence from the Senators' defenders can only give them so much time to do so.