Senators Score 3 in Third Period, Beat Bruins 4-2
Going into tonight's game the talking points were dominated by Paul MacLean's decision to stay with his starter Craig Anderson, despite the shelling the Sens took Tuesday night at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Veteran defenseman Chris Phillips drew back into the lineup after missing the Philly game with an injury, allowing the Erik Karlsson-Marc Methot pairing to reunite. Midway through the period, Boston opened the scoring with a shot from the point that was tipped by a diving Derek Grant as he tried to block it in addition to Boston forward Loui Eriksson before it made its way past Andy. It was an excellent play by Patrice Bergeron to start the play, he lost the draw to Jason Spezza, but his second effort allowed him to pass the puck to the point for the Bartkowski shot.
Things went from bad to worse a few minutes later when Brad Marchand sniped a top-shelf goal on Andy. The goal was the result of a great breakout by Bartkowski, who brought the puck up through the neutral zone before dishing off to Marchand. Marchand walked off the wall, leaving Colin Greening dumbfounded, before firing from the slot. Scary moment a few minutes later, when Marchand's stick made contact near Zack Smith's eye during a faceoff. Smith left the game and but thankfully returned later in the period with stitches between his eyes. Late in the period, Clarke MacArthur had Ottawa's best chance of the opening frame but failed to put a Bobby Ryan rebound behind Bruins keeper Tuukka Rask. With less than a minute left, the Smith line got Ottawa back in the game. Boston defender Torey Krug tried to skate the puck out of his own zone but was crunched by Chris Neil at the blue line. The Bruins had to re-start their breakout and pressure from Greening and Neil resulted in Neil picking off a Krug pass and wristing the puck past Rask. It was an important shift not only for Greening, who looked bad on the second goal, but for the team and fans, as the shot put some life back in the building.
Early in the second period, Ottawa received the first power play of the game when Boston defender Carl Soderberg brought down Mark Borowiecki. While the Sens weren't able to score, the second unit featured some nice play from Mika Zibanejad and Karlsson. Midway through the period, a double-shifted Jason Spezza found himself on a 2-on-1 with Kyle Turris but the captain was not able work his way around the sizeable reach of Zdeno Chara. At the halfway mark, Zack Smith took Ottawa's first penalty of the game, but the PK got off to a good start with a Clarke MacArthur breakaway. Unfortunately, MacArthur was unable to convert the opportunity but the Sens did kill off the penalty. A 2-on-1 chance for Loui Eriksson late in the period was broken up by a backchecking Spezza. The second period finished the same as it started, with the Sens down one. It was a much better effort by the Sens in that frame and play in the second period was much more even.
Just over a minute into the third period Ottawa tied things up with a great goal by the Spezza line. Some nice work by Michalek allowed the Sens to gain the zone and after a failed chance by Spezza, Michalek won the puck back and fed Karlsson along the boards. Karlsson skated toward the middle of the ice and fired a slap pass to a waiting Spezza at the side of the net. The captain made no mistake and fired the puck into an open net to tie the game. Spezza celebrated in emphatic fashion but it was Karlsson's slap pass that made the play.
After a few chances for the Bruins' Soderberg, the Sens were able to take the lead from the most unlikely of sources. No, not a hobbit, but Jared Cowen. Cory Conacher, who was far more noticeable tonight than in recent games (probably because he spent more time on Spezza's wing) was able to chip the puck past a Bruins defenseman to the boards where Cowen picked the puck up and fire a tumbling slap shot at the net that managed to elude Tuukka Rask. Shortly after Cowen's goal, Neil led a 3-on-2 break into the Bruins zone, feeding Smith who narrowly missed putting one past Rask. At the half way point of the period, an alert Bobby Ryan stripped Reilly Smith of the puck just inside the blue line and went five hole on Rask, his shot just trickling into the net. It wasn't a great goal from Rask's perspective, but it was a terrible own-zone giveaway by Smith. A couple minutes later, another defensive zone giveaway by the Bruins let Bobby Ryan in alone on Rask again, but instead of shooting with an open net, Ryan tried to go backhand and put it wide. Concerning moment late in the game, when Dennis Seidenberg got away with an elbow to the chin of Bobby Ryan, who skated off with assistance looking a little dazed. The Sens got a late power play when Jarome Iginla stepped up to play everyone's favourite game, hit Cory Conacher in the head. While there were a few chances for the Turris and Karlsson on the PP, it allowed the Sens to kill off the majority of the time on the clock in Boston's end. Pulling Rask with a minute left made no difference, and the Sens scored a comeback victory, winning 4-2 on the strength of 3 third period goals against the usually stingy Bruins.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
Double-shifted by MacLean for much of the first two periods, Spezza answered the coach's challenge, scoring the tying goal and assisting on Cowen's game-winner. Spezza also made several key plays in the defensive zone and was noticeable at both ends of the ice all night.
Sens Hero: Chris Neil
Neil had his best game of the season tonight, playing a physical but disciplined game. His hit on Torey Krug not only demonstrated how physical play can pressure defenders and lead to giveaways, it led to defensive zone pressure which resulted in Neil's late marker. Neil's goal was crucial; the Sens were badly outplayed during the first period and looked lifeless. His line looked bad on the second goal but played well in the second and third and found themselves on the ice when the Bruins pulled Rask to close out the game.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
After losing 5-0 to the Flyers on Tuesday, many Sens fans were calling for Robin Lehner to return to the Sens crease. Andy bounced back strong against the Bruins, stopping 30 of 32 shots (.938 SV%) and was not at fault for Boston's two goals. Andy kept his team in the game when the Sens were badly outshot and outplayed in the first period. For those who want Lehner back in net, Andy needs to be playing well to have trade value. Win-Win-Sens win.
Honourable Mention: Jared Cowen
Cowen had some poor giveaways and made some poor decisions in his own end, especially on the second Bruins goal, but Cowen also scored the game-winning goal. Hopefully that will give the struggling defenseman some confidence going forward. The successes of the past two seasons, coupled with the trade for Bobby Ryan, made many Sens fans feel this was the first year of contending, not the last year of rebuilding. The reality feels somewhere in the middle but it's important to remember that the organization is still making developmental decisions with some players. For those who want the Sens to win every night, it's frustrating to watch some of the growing pains we're seeing. But maybe, just maybe it's best for Cowen's development to play through these mistakes.
Honourable Mention: Mika Zibanejad
Zibanejad got some time on the PP tonight and looked great. Easily one of the team's most skilled forwards, the PP allowed Mika to play with more talented players and he looked threatening.
Shot chart: via ESPN
Highlights: Maybe later