Senators cool Jets with 4-3 win
The Senators scored first and never trailed as they beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3.
The big story heading into tonight's matchup was related to the US Olympic roster selection: the snubs of Bobby Ryan and Dustin Byfuglien and the inclusion of Blake Wheeler over Ryan. For all of the talk of Bobby Ryan using the snub as motivation, it didn't show up on the scoresheet -- he had no shots after two periods and finished the game without a point-- but you could see an extra gear in his game and it was a strong forecheck from Ryan that led to Ottawa's fourth goal.
Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring after batting home a rebound on a play he initiated with a nifty bank pass off the boards for Joe Corvo's point shot. But the lead would not last long as a few minutes later, the Jets got on the board after a Dustin Byfuglien point shot took some funny bounces and beat Craig Anderson. The Senators regained the lead with less than a minute remaining as Milan Michalek knocked in a rebound from a Mika Zibanejad shot.
The Senators got off to a forgettable start to the second period as Craig Anderson let a weak goal in that came from behind the goal line. Midway through the period, Bobby Ryan took a nasty hit from behind that led him face first into the stanchion, and the Senators generally struggled to create anything in the period.
The Senators had several chances in the third period -- a powerplay early on, a Cory Conacher breakaway -- but it was a seemingly harmless Zack Smith faceoff win back to Marc Methot that resulted in a Senators goal, as Methot blasted one that Smith tipped above Al Montoya's shoulder. Clarke MacArthur then gave the Senators a two goal lead after Bobby Ryan's forecheck led to a turnover that MacArthur buried.
With about 5 minutes left, the lead was reduced to one after Dustin Byfuglien made a slick pass to Olli Jokinen who one-timed it into the net. Given that this is the 2013/2013 Ottawa Senators, it was reasonable to get a little nervous, bu the Senators managed to hang onto their lead and win the game. The Senators are now 18-18-7 and 3 points out of a wild card spot (although the two teams ahead of them, Toronto and Detroit, have a game in hand).
Sens Heroes: Mika Zibanejad/Milan Michalek/Cory Conacher line
Ottawa's best line tonight was the Zibanejad line, which scored two goals and combined for 11 of Ottawa's 29 shots on goal.
It's been frustrating to watch Zibanejad's usage this year -- sent down to start, playing limited minutes with mediocre linemates -- but all he does is keep producing. He had a goal and an assist in the game, and continued His ten goals has him tied with Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson for fourth in team scoring, and he's done that in ten less games (and with far fewer minutes) than either of them.
Conacher had two assists tonight, bringing him up to 14 points this season, with 9 of those points coming in his last 11 games. He had a slow start to the season, but he's started to really come around as of late.
Sens Killer: Dustin Byfuglien
The recently snubbed Byfuglien had a goal and an assist in his 21 minutes of icetime, and whenever he got a head of steam going he was tough for the Senators to handle.