Senators Dominate in the Desert
A recap of the game between the Senators and Coyotes on January 10th, 2015.
Coming into the game, there were several stories to pay attention to. Curtis Lazar was playing for the first time since winning gold at the World Juniors, coming in for Colin Greening. Both players have a goal to their name this season, but Lazar was the one who actually put the puck in the net, so most were OK with that decision. Chris Phillips was drawing back in for Patrick Wiercioch, Marc Methot was back to the top defensive pairing with Erik Karlsson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau took Mika Zibanejad's spot on the second line, and Alex Chiasson replaced Mark Stone on the top line. Oh, and Ottawa's powerplay had gone 0-for-28 recently.
Four minutes into the game, Mikkel Boedker got left pretty open for a shot which he proceeded to snipe past Craig Anderson. It wasn't a positive start for the team. One quick move made Jared Cowen look silly, and neither Cody Ceci nor Zibanejad could get to Boedker before he scored. The Senators responded in the most unbelievable way possible - on the powerplay. Milan Michalek was in front of the net to shove home a rebound with Mike Smith down. It was a scrappy goal, but that seemed like the way the Sens had to break the big goose-egg on the powerplay. Later on, a heads-up play by Kyle Turris to wrap-around the puck gave Clarke MacArthur an easy tap-in for the lead. Stone happened to be back with those two for the goal, which you can decide for yourself whether or not it was a factor. The Sens also led in shots 12-8 at the end of the period.
The second period started with two anxious moments. First, Bobby Ryan stepped on a skate, lost an edge, and fell hard into the boards. He needed help to get back to the bench, but stayed on the bench and wouldn't miss a shift. Later, on a penalty to Jared Cowen, Erik Condra made a great goal-saving block to maintain the Sens' lead. Mike Hoffman would extend the Sens' lead with a great steal in the Coyotes' zone. He'd drop it to Zibanejad, who would find Hoffman again with a pass in front. The goal allowed him to stay two clear of MacArthur for the team lead. The only other real notable part of the period was when Pageau chased down the puck on the penalty kill, forcing Oliver Ekman-Larsson to take an interference penalty. It was a smart play by the youngster to kill off a penalty that still had 90 seconds remaining. Dave Cameron channelled his inner Cory Clouston by getting the team a too-many-men penalty, which they managed to kill off. With thirty seconds left in the period, Lucas Lessio took a high-sticking penalty, which gave the Sens a powerplay that continued over into the third.
Mike Smith may not be as good as he once was, but probably his greatest area of his strength was his puck handling. He nearly made the Sens pay early in the third when he made a great chip off the glass to give his team a shorthanded 2-on-0. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't handled cleanly, and a backchecking Chiasson was able to get back before there was another chance. Then the unthinkable happened - the Sens scored again on the powerplay. Cody Ceci snapped a nice pass from Erik Karlsson home for his second of the season. That about did it for the game. The Coyotes caught up in shots thanks to score effects. Smith displayed his second-best ability, diving to draw a goaltender interference penalty, when Lazar drove the net. Ottawa killed off that penalty as throughly as the previous ones. Just when you thought it was over, David Legwand took advantage of some sloppy zone play by the Coyotes and scored an unassisted goal with seven seconds left. It was only his second non-powerplay goal of the year. Overall, Ottawa played a very good game, and were on track to allow fewer than 30 shots until score effects took over. 32 shots allowed is still below their season average.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
I actually wasn't a fan of his play through two periods, he'd had a couple shaky moments with the puck-handling, but then I realized how entitled that made me sounds. He'd allowed one goal on twenty shots. He finished with 0.969 save percentage, which is pretty good in my books.
Sens Hero: Kyle Turris
MacArthur may have got more points, but Turris looked good all night. He was creative in the offensive zone, and backchecked hard. I really liked his game against his former team.
Honourable Mention: Mika Zibanejad
He responded to his demotion by getting two assists. Not bad at all.
Honourable Mention: Mike Hoffman
He's a very sneaky player, and he gets full credit for the goal he scored tonight. Let me know if this narrative is getting old, but I really like Mike Hoffman.
Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
I feel bad picking a zero on the night, but I didn't like Cowen at all. He got dangled twice, once leading to a goal and the other leading to him taking a penalty. He and Ceci again were outplayed, but Ceci got a goal so it evens out for him. Let me know if this narrative is getting old too.
Sens Zero time-on-ice: David Legwand
Two games ago, against the Flyers, he played a season-low 6:22. His ice time has dropped significantly since Cameron took over, and tonight was no different, when he played 13:18, more than only Mike Hoffman (!!) and Curtis Lazar. He probably wasn't expected to be a powerplay and penalty kill face-off specialist when he was signed. Right now his usage reminds me a lot of Zenon Konopka.
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Sarcastic sign-off: Did you know it was the first NHL meeting between brothers Mark and Michael Stone? I wish they'd mentioned that at some point during the broadcast.