The Ottawa Senators served the Phoenix Coyotes to a 5-2 defeat in Ottawa in one of the best games that they’ve played so far. It was another milestone night, as Sergei Gonchar hit the 1000 game mark, only 2 games after the team Captain. It seems like milestones bring out the best in this team, which is a relief, because a sense of team is what’s needed to win games.
It looks like Kovalev finally found Minnesota on a map because he clearly brought up his game- a 3 point night for him after his ice time was cut and the management had some harsh words for him. Granted, he had tried in the Montreal game which turned out to be a dud. A couple of bad off the post shots capped a bad night for Ottawa in general, when all the bounces seemed to go the wrong way.
But it all went right last night, including a wonky goal for Chris Kelly off Labarbera and into the net. It wasn’t pretty, but it went in and it’s nice to see that happen for this team, who often looks for pretty goals and loses puck possession in the process. Clouston made it clear to his team that they needed to spend more time on the offensive, that they needed to come out strong, throw pucks towards the net and draw first blood. Check, check and check.
Some of the players are getting the message when it comes to competitive play. Take Jesse Winchester for example. Despite stitches to put his chin back together and playing with the cage mask, he’s in there grinding every night and not afraid to charge the net. Unfortunately, he gave head butt a new meaning when he stepped into Labarbera for the goaltender interference penalty in the first. But have to give him credit for trying.
Labarbera had a dismal night against the Senators and his past records against the team should have been a dead giveaway. It looks like Phoenix may have been somewhat overconfident going into this game with the return of their Captain and Ottawa’s slump. He only played the first period and even that must have felt like an eternity for him.
Ottawa played its best game of the season as a team. The night in Buffalo clearly belonged to Alfie, but the team as a whole was involved in last night’s win. Great play from Karlsson, Alfie, Kovalev and Kelly, as well as excellent support from Foligno, Regin and the man of the night, Gonchar.
On the flip side, Phoenix did not play its best game. Their game was sloppy and they took some bad penalties. The frustration was obvious as they slashed, hooked and tripped on the night for a total of 5 penalties, 3 of which were in the last period. Elliott made 28 saves on the night, but most of the game, save for the second period, was not played on his part of the ice.
All in all, a great game for Ottawa. Clouston has rallied back his troops and let’s hope that this is the beginning of a solid winning streak. Spezza was out again last night with a groin injury; did anyone miss him?
In all honesty, Spezza’s absence has elevated the game of Fisher and Kelly as Ottawa’s go-to Centres. Fisher is playing harder than he ever has in his career, and I don’t think that’s a result of his newly found matrimonial bliss, as important as that may be. And Kelly has come out with some great moves and aggressive plays- he can be absolutely slick when he wants to be. It may be that his secondary role on the team in the past has made him play conservatively and close to the line. It’s refreshing to see him break out; he may have a great season ahead of him.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.