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Ottawa zaps Lightning 3-1 in Regina

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Edit: Despite the game being radio-only, you can check out the highlights on TSN.

What a ridiculous headline. Anyone wondering if I'm serious about these stupid headlines, let me be clear: I am not.

The Ottawa Senators won their second consecutive exhibition game on Monday night, going into Regina, Saskatchewan and coming out with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Scorers for Ottawa were Mike Fisher, with his fourth goal in two games, Alex Kovalev, and Jason Spezza. Tampa's lone goal came from Carter Ashton.

The line of Fisher with Peter Regin and Nick Foligno continued to click. Regin had an assist on Fisher's goal, and--although he apparently had an off-night in the faceoff circle--he's continuing to make his case to stay in Ottawa. Fisher also added an assist on Spezza's goal. Considering they're likely plotted as the third line on Ottawa's depth chart, the level of production they've reached is very strong.

(Read more... )

It sounded like Spezza and Kovalev may have found some chemistry, which would be a boon for the Senators' powerplay if the two continue to play on separate lines at even-strength. Spezza had his goal and an assist on Kovalev's goal, which was described as a perfect pass to AK27 for an easy redirect into the net. He also looked good with Milan Michalek, whose speed continues to bring out the best in Spezza. Michalek had a pretty good chance to score in the first period, but was stymied by the glove of Antero Niittymaki.

Speaking of Nittymaki, he stopped nine of 11 shots he faced, and according to the Team 1200's guys, the game could have been uglier if he hadn't played as well as he did. Seems like an odd thing to say, considering he only faced 11 shots, but they saw the game in person.

There was a bit of a scare when Kovalev was cut open in the third period, but he was back on the ice later in that frame, so it can't have been too bad.

At first glance, you might think Brian Elliott even surrendering one goal--considering the lineup iced by the Lightning, and the fact that they only had eight shots on the night--was a disappointment. But that one goal was on a 3-on-1, and he was there for the remaining seven shots faced.

Eight shots total... wow.

No matter how bad the Lightning roster was, the fact that only eight shots were allowed also indicates a solid defensive game from Ottawa's blueliners. Jared Cowen had a much stronger game than his NHL pre-season debut, and seemed to have the poise needed to make good use of his size. He stripped Brandon Bochenski cleanly on one rush, but... it's Brandon Bochenski. (Then again, he was a pre-season dynamo when in a Senators' uniform.) Offensively, Erik Karlsson had another assist, and his uncertain first period notwithstanding, was again Ottawa's most impressive defenceman.

Listening to the game, I didn't hear much mention of Zack Smith until the post-game wrap--when Dean Brown suggested that Smith might have seen his last game of the pre-season. Perhaps a disappointment for Smith, who was Ottawa's final cut last season, but it has at least as much to do with Regin's performance (and the drove of one-way contracts) as it does with Smith's play overall.

It's tough to comment on too much without having seen the game, but that seems like the gist of the goings on.