Don't look now but the Ottawa Senators are suddenly within touching distance of the Toronto Maple Leafs and surely this must win they are close to a playoff spot right? The Senators beat the Calgary Flames 6-3 thanks to some strong goaltending from Robin Lehner as well as their explosive top two lines. The win leaves Ottawa six points behind Lumbus for the final playoff spot with eight games remaining. Lumbus would own the tiebreaker.
Ottawa got on the board first on Milan Michalek's 15th goal of the season that was a nice (or lucky?) deflection on Erik Karlsson's shot. Less than three minutes later the same two players would be on the ice for another goal but this time it was Calgary tying the game after yet another mess in the Senators zone. Late in the period, Jason Spezza made the Calgary defence look silly, holding the puck, holding it some more and then finding Michalek for a tap-in to put Ottawa ahead.
In the second period, the same line was on for yet another goal with Calgary tying the game 2-2. The Senators had four players around the net covering no one in particular and the goal scorer, Paul Byron, was left alone. Sean Monahan scored just as a penalty expired partially because of some hilarious defending by Jared Cowen, although it was a rather stoppable shot that beat Robin Lehner. The shots were 15-1 Calgary in the first seven minutes of the second period and Ottawa appeared to be heading for yet another demoralising loss. At this point, the Senators top line took over. First, Clarke MacArthur found Kyle Turris coming in late and Turris fired a perfect shot to tie the game at 3. Lehner stopped 20 out of 21 shots in the second period and Ottawa headed into the intermission at 3-3.
Cowen put the Senators ahead on a goal that was a gift from Karri Ramo. Ramo gave the puck away to Mika Zibanejad behind the net and Zibanejad's pass found Cowen whose rather weak shot beat Ramo. Midway through the period, this time it was Turris setting up MacArthur and it was a thing of a beauty in both the pass from Turris and the tip from MacArthur. The Senators controlled the third period outshooting the Flames 15-6 and won 6-3 with Turris' empty net goal ending the scoring.
Sens hero: Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur
They score a little bit less than the Spezza line but they are far better overall. Been an outstanding season for the two of them and re-signing MacArthur has to be a top priority for Bryan Murray in the offseason given the chemistry that he has with Turris.
Honourable mention: Robin Lehner
The third goal was soft, but it was a fourth consecutive strong performance from Lehner stopping 37 out of 40 shots. His save percentage in the last four games has been 92.5, 95.1, 92.1 and 93.2.
- This was the first time the Senators won consecutive games after the Olympic break.
- Chris Neil has now gone 13 straight games without a point and has picked up eight minor penalties in those games.
- Karlsson's assist gave him 50 assists to go along with 20 goals for the season. As Ian Mendes mentioned, this makes him the first defenceman since Brian Leetch in 2000-2001 to accomplish that.
- Kyle Turris is on pace for 61 points and is rather good defensively as well. I know some fans are scared of not having a #1 centre if Jason Spezza is traded, but those worries should be eased a little bit with Turris' emergence.
- Patrick Wiercioch had another strong game and managed to drag Chris Phillips along with him. While Phillips really should be a healthy scratch, if it has to be between Wiercioch or Cody Ceci, glad to see that it was Ceci who was scratched.
- Milan Michalek has 15 points in his last 18 games. Is it possible that he is re-signed especially if Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza stay? It is unlikely any money will be spent on defence.
- Spezza, Michalek and Hemsky were on the ice for the first four goals in this game.
- Matt Kassian off the bench to start a fight that negated a Karlsson/Spezza rush and got a two-minute instigator penalty on top of that.