I think I speak for all Sens fans when I say... WOOOOOOOO!!!!
The Ottawa Senators finally pulled out a win, giving head coach Paul MacLean his first National Hockey League victory in his third game as the Sens bench boss. Once again, however, this game was for sure an interesting one, with a wild (pun!) finish, and an exciting third period.
The Sens came out flying. I'm unsure if they were playing well, or if the Minnesota Wild just looked tired after playing against the Islanders the night before. Regardless, less than six minutes into this game, the home team held a 10-2 lead in shots.
However, much like the first two games of the season, the Sens had nothing to show for it. The Wild struck first, after David Rundblad failed to clear the puck, and Kyle Brodziak made a nifty redirection to put it past Anderson. It was a crushing goal (for me at least) because up until that point, it had been all Sens. The Wild were not done there. After a cheesy slashing penalty was given to Jason Spezza, Devin Setoguchi capitalized on a poor clearing effort by Sergei Gonchar, and fired a bullet past Anderson. Just like that, despite outshooting the Wild 16-13, the Sens were down 2-0.
The second period saw the Sens FINALLY score a goal in a period that isn't the third one (update the chart Darren!), when Nick Foligno scored, but for me, the big story of the second period was the Chris Neil hit on Clayton Stoner. It seemed to energize the team, and the Sens went on to outshoot the Wild 13-2 in the second period.
In what is becoming a trend, the Sens started the third period down, and clawed their way back. After Nick Johnson scored early in the third, the Chris Neil show continued when he buried a snipe on a rebound to make it 3-2. Finally, on a powerplay (again!) Colin Greening banged in a rebound for his second of the year, and the game went to overtime at 3-3. After some scoreless 4-on-4, the Sens scored all three attempts on the shootout (Michalek, Spezza and The Captain), and the Sens picked up their first win of the season, in dramatic fashion.
Sens Hero: Chris Neil: When Chris Neil has performances like he did against the Wild, he makes me eat my words and demonstrates how he can be a valuable contributor to this team. He seems to have completely embraced the leadership role he currently finds himself in, and is having a great start to the year after a great preseason. A goal and an assist tonight, as well as a HUGE hit behind the net, to give the Sens a boost. Not to mention he was at his absolute best getting under the skin of Dany Heatley tonight, hitting him at every opportunity.
Sens Hero: Stephane Da Costa: Though he did not get in on any of the scoring tonight, Da Costa dominated the first two periods. My roommate started calling him "The Magic Man" because he created every time he was on the ice. His line, with Michalek and Alfie gave us a glimpse of the puck possession game MacLean is selling. I'm buying it for sure.
Sens Hero: Colin Greening: Peter sent a very prophetic text to me during the game. It simply said "Soylent is awesome." I couldn't help but agree, and in the third period, Colin made us both look very smart. He used his size, went to the net, and created chances, in addition to getting the game tied with 12 minutes to go.
Sens Killer: Niklas Backstrom: When you outshoot a team 29-14 through two periods and 44-27 overall, you shouldn't need a shootout to win. The Sens did, and it was because of the Wild's tender.
Sens Killer: Turnovers, and the First Period: Still. Both first period goals came off poor clearing efforts. Hard to win games when you give the other team the puck.
Strong Debut: Peter Regin and David Rundblad: Regin's line was very good tonight, and I thought he played well. Rundblad was not nearly as error prone as in the preseason and played a good game.
Hardly Noticed: Dany Heatley: Had an assist, and one shot that went wide, but thought he was nowhere to be found in the third period. Don't miss the guy at all.
Next up, the debut of the O sweater, and a game against Craig Anderson's old team, and hopefully, another Sens win!