The Ottawa Senators came back from the Christmas break looking well-rested and energized, coming away with a 3-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Keys to Ottawa's win were Erik Karlsson, the defenceman on whom Ottawa's offence relied (he had two goals and an assist), as well as Brian Elliott, who stopped 44 of 45 shots to come away with a hard-earned victory.
Emotions ran high in the game. It kicked off with Matt Carkner getting the best of Eric Godard in a fight just two minutes in. Godard, who was somehow able to see Carkner despite his eyes being swollen shut, tried to get a rematch, but Carkner wasn't interested. Later in the game, one play saw Ryan Shannon get bloodied by a Matt Cooke elbow, and Jason Spezza leave the game when he was pushed from behind into the boards by Kris Letang. Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu spent much of the game trying to get back at Letang, hitting him a couple times--but none too punishing.
Elliott looked primed to end Crosby's 23-game point-scoring streak, but the Pens' centreman spoiled his shutout with just a few minutes remaining in the game. The Pens were pushing strongly--they had 39 shots in the last 40 minutes--but Elliott was up to the challenge.
Sens Hero: Brian Elliott
I said most of it above, but Elliott likely stole this win for the Sens--a nice change, considering the goaltending Ottawa's received for much of the season so far. Among his 44 saves were three on Evgeni Malkin--including a couple from point-blank range--as well as three (of four) on Crosby and seven on Letang. As good as Karlsson was (more on him in a moment), Elliott was the first star.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Really an amazing performance by Karlsson tonight. He finished with three shots on net tonight, and two of them got past Marc-Andre Fleury. A fourth was tipped by Mike Fisher before going in, so Karlsson's point shots ended up being the driving force behind all of Ottawa's offence tonight. He continues to get plenty of support from Cory Clouston, and once again led the Sens in ice time tonight with 26:16--including 2:55 while short-handed. And amazingly, his three points tonight give him 11P in the last 9GP, and he's now leading the team in scoring. Remember when he was scratched for a couple games earlier in the year? Those struggles are long forgotten now.
Fun with Numbers:
Filip Kuba had four giveaways tonight, but also had three takeaways. ... Jesse Winchester was an impressive 8-for-13 in the face-off circle tonight, but Mark Letestu was an even more impressive 7-for-10. ... Godard played 16 seconds of ice time tonight. He earned 15 minutes of penalties in that time--that's making the most of your minutes. ... With his three points tonight, Karlsson not only leads the team in points, but now has 11P in 12 total career games played (regular season and playoffs) against the Penguins. ... In just 7:44 in ice-time before having to leave the game, Spezza still managed to notch two assists. ... Chris Conner (I don't know who he is, either) managed to fire five shots at Elliott tonight, tied for second among all players with Zbynek Michalek.