Senators extend winning streak to one with 3-2 victory over Flames

This headline is Darren's.  Apparently neither he nor Peter understand that a streak comprises more than one in a row, but it doesn't matter, because Ottawa won!

It was quite a sloppy game tonight, and the Sens were slow to start for the second game in a row. Thinly foreshadowed Sens Hero Brian Elliott kept the team in the game until they could find their legs, which didn't happen until almost halfway through the game. From that point on, Ottawa controlled more of the play than Calgary. It wasn't a coincidence that Spezza's goal came late in the second, and it wasn't a coincidence that the Senators outshot the Flames in the third period as well. I, probably like many fans, was curious to see how the team would respond to the beat down handed to them by Toronto, and I was not disappointed. The team overcame some adversity early and continued to attack throughout. This group of players remains confident.

Of course, much of that is due to coach Cory Clouston's system, which we've pointed out here before. The name of the game with this team is depth. Without Nick Foligno in the lineup, Clouston reunited the line of Ryan Shannon, Peter Regin, and Alex Kovalev. Those guys picked up right where they left off, generating some good chances. Being able to shuffle lines let Clouston roll four lines yet again -- no player played fewer than eleven minutes -- and the fresh legs paid off tonight as the team repeatedly outworked their opponents for loose pucks in the third.

Sens Hero: Brian Elliott
Like we said above, it was Elliott that kept his team in the game early, and it was Elliot who secured the win with some fantastic saves in the dying seconds of the game.  Ottawa's goalie was not at fault at all on either of the goals:  Goro could not have stopped them.  What we watched here was yet another game where Elliott made steady, timely saves for his team, and they played confidently in front of him because of that.  He's showing that this team doesn't need outstanding goaltending to win games.

Sens Hero: Jonathan Cheechoo
The Train played his best game as an Ottawa Senator. Period. Robbed not once, but twice, Cheechoo was the best player on the ice tonight, and it's not just me that thought so -- Clouston promoted him to a line with Spezza and Michalek. This was not just a reward; it let Clouston form a line of Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher, and Daniel Alfredsson to shut down some thinly foreshadowed Sens Killers. Cheechoo pumped out five shots and only managed one assist, but it was the game winner: A cross-ice feed to Jason Spezza, who wired a shot into an open net. He's been maligned this year, but he was fantastic tonight.

Sens Killers: Miikka Kiprusoff, Niklas Hagman, Jarome Iginla, pretty much every former Leaf
Kipprusoff was the best goalie on the ice tonight. He absolutely stoned the Sens (including Cheechoo, as mentioned) again and again and again. He did not deserve to lose this game, and the score could have been a lot worse if he didn't play as well as he did. He gave his teammates every chance to win tonight, and they just couldn't come through for him.

Meanwhile, Hagman showed real chemistry with Iginla, as their line created some glorious chances until Clouston was able to put together the Fisher line to check them.  Iginla also showed the intensity of a captain, jumping right into the middle of a scrum to scuffle with Mike Fisher after Fisher came to the defense of Chris Kelly, who had taken a cheap shot to the back.  I have a lot of respect for Iginla, and he continued to impress me tonight.

Sens Hero: Chris Kelly
It wasn't all rose petals and bird songs for Kelly, as his insistence on passing cost Alfredsson an empty net goal and he buried some great chances into the pads of Kiprusoff, but Kelly was big on the ice. His former line (with Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil) was the best one on the ice for Ottawa until they were broken up, but he didn't miss a beat while playing with Fisher and Alfredsson. Much like Cheechoo, Kelly's overall play tonight was a huge factor in allowing Clouston to make the adjustments he needed to make to win the game. It won't show on the scoresheet, but Kelly had a great game tonight.

Since we're making up streaks, here's some that started with the win tonight:

  • Ottawa's overcome deficit streak stands at two: 1-0, then 2-1.
  • With his goal tonight, Jason Spezza is on pace for 22 goals in his remaining 22 games.
  • Mike Fisher's awesomeness streak has reached 598 games, which is just 15 shy of infinity
  • Daniel Alfredsson has now been unable to impress Hasse Alfredsson for 38 years and 59 days.  He's going to keep trying, I bet.
  • Peter's game recap streak was broken at one.
  • Anton Volchenkov's "Hit Niklas Hagman in the back" streak extended to 3, with two hits tonight./

Stare at this shot chart intensely:


(via ESPN)

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