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These go to eleven: Senators 3, Canucks 1

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The Ottawa Senators are a tough team to beat right now.  And spotting them an early lead is not the way to do it.  Sens fans may not know this, but in addition to being an NHL defenseman, Matt Carkner performs interpretive dance.  Here he is paired with Vancouver's Tanner Glass in a little piece he calls "The First Period:"

 


 

The Senators outshot the Canucks 12-3 and completely dominated from the puck drop to the horn.  First, they took advantage of an early penalty call with Milan Michalek putting in a power play goal, his 19th of the year.  This was especially encouraging to see as Michalek could not finish his opportunities last night.  He made no mistake on his tip in chance tonight, and he added an assist late in the period, when Jason Spezza scored on a great 3-on-1.  The team took a 2-0 lead into the 2nd period and did not look back.  It was exactly the kind of period they needed after playing a hard-fought game in Buffalo the night before, because they'd have some tired legs in the third period.

Sens HeroBrian Elliott
Holy crap.  After getting the first period off (thanks to some post luck) Elliott stood tall in the 2nd and 3rd.  One of the interesting things about his new personal win streak is that he hasn't had to make many difficult saves.  The team in front of him has done a fantastic job of limiting shots, clearing rebounds, and opening lanes for him to see the puck.  Vancouver has some strong offensive lines, so that was a much more daunting task tonight.  It was extremely encouraging to see Elliott make good save after good save and his teammates help him out.  Elliott was not at fault on the Vancouver goal -- it was a back door shot on the power play.

Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
The captain assisted on all three Senators goals tonight.  I'm pretty much out of superlatives for this guy at this point.  A night after he demonstrated his leadership by scoring the game winning goal in Buffalo, he completely changed gears and generated offense in a completely different way tonight.  Alfie was everywhere. 

Bad News:  Erik Karlsson left right before the end of the second with what is being called an upper body injury.  It was reported to be a strained shoulder, but that has not yet been confirmed.  We'll post an update as soon as we have information, but Karlsson's play has been so good lately that losing him for any amount of time will hurt this team.  Who would have thought we'd say that about him just a few months ago?  He looked really good again tonight for those wondering.

Sens Hero: Cory Clouston
I remain unenthused about Clouston's line juggling, but you can't argue with results.  The fashion master has a really good handle on the pulse of this team, and whatever he did to fire them up for the start of this game worked.  The Senators faded as the game went on and the Canucks came on.  Ottawa's two-goal lead turned out to be decisive, and confidence in the system and smart play made it a lead that would stick.  Ottawa was dominated in the third period, but you never got the sense that they were reeling.  Credit for the start and the finish have to go to Clouston and his staff.

Sens Zero:  Jonathan Cheechoo
I don't like giving this, but Cheechoo was again invisible.  He had a fantastic scoring chance, but in true Cheechoo fashion could not convert it.  The effort level is there, but sadly, the production is not.  It's really hard to believe he ever scored 56 goals -- he practically needs an open net to score now.

What, you want to see another fight?

 

 

This is extra badass for Neil, since he has a mouthful of stitches still.

Noteworthy:  It should have been mentioned earlier, but Roberto Luongo did not play for Vancouver.  Apparently he got scared at the last minute was rested after playing 26 consecutive games.  Andrew Raycroft, who deserves a Sens Hero (but won't get one) for taunting Maple Leafs fans, was served his 100th career loss by the Senators.

And, it's time for a shot chart:


Sens-nucks_medium

(Via ESPN)

Game Highlights:

H/T to Japers' Rink for reminding us to make a Spinal Tap reference.