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60 MINUTES PAYS OFF

Posted By Avi Slack On Dec 10 2010 @ 11:44 pm In Ottawa Senators | 2 Comments

In a game that was much about the job security of head coach’s Corey Clouston of the Ottawa Senators and John MacLean of the New Jersey Devils, Clouston and the Senators prevailed with a well rounded 3-2 win. Ottawa played a full 60 minutes rather than their usual 40 minutes and hung on for the win. It may not have secured Clouston’s job as head coach, but sitting 7 points out of a playoff spot in early December and losers of five out of their last six games it was a huge morale booster.

Ottawa came out strong in the first shooting early and often. Ottawa’s young defenseman Erik Karlsson finally got one past Martin Brodeur on what was a soft knuckle ball shot that dipped on Brodeur who had a lot of traffic in front of him. Ottawa were the beneficiaries of two powerplay’s, but were unable to take advantage. Ottawa out shot New Jersey 13-7.

The second period was a busy a one with four goals. New Jersey tied it up early on a weak powerplay goal from Patrik Elias. Elias walked in over the blue line and snapped a wrist shot high glove side on Leclaire who thought he had it in his glove as it trickled in for a goal. As bad as it was at the time with Ottawa’s goaltending letting the team down once again, it was Leclaire’s only blemish of the night. Milan Michalek, goal less in 9 games, restored Ottawa’s lead with a backhand shot off a rebound that beat Brodeur high who was out of position. Not long after Michalek’s goal, Jarkko Rutuu snuck one in at the side of the net to cap off a hard shift by linemates Chris Kelly and Chris Neil. The Senators once again got themselves into penalty trouble on a holding call against Sergei Gonchar, and allowed their second powerplay goal by Dainius Zubrus. It was a sloppy second period by both teams with numerous neutral zone turnovers. New Jersey out shot Ottawa 13-6.

Ottawa came out for the third period with another 3-2 lead as they did last night against New York before a third period collapse that cost them the game losing 5-3. Surprisingly, Ottawa put together another sloppy third period but managed to hang on for the win with help from Leclaire. Jason Arnott had a glorious chance to tie it at the side of the net with roughly ten minutes left in the game; he had Leclaire down but was unable to get the puck up high enough on Leclaire. Mike Fisher took a late interference penalty that saw Zubrus of the Devils hit the crossbar from just inside the blue line. The Senators breathed another sigh of relief on that penalty kill when a goal of the toe off David Clakson was called back. Leclaire stood tall in net for Ottawa who faced another eleven shots from New Jersey and secured the win for the Senators. New Jersey out shot Ottawa again 11-10 and also out shot Ottawa 31-29 after three periods.

The Senators did some positive things tonight which was great to see after a tough week and a half with the exception of Sunday’s win in New York. Ottawa shot the puck towards Brodeur all night who made his return to net after missing the last eight games with a bruised elbow. Ottawa’s secondary scoring was huge tonight with goals from Karlsson, and Rutuu with the game winning goal. Nick Foligno had another strong game with 5 shots and seems to be back in form. Alexi Kovalev went from the fourth line to the first line after claiming he was being used as a scapegoat by coach Clouston who called him out after the loss to the Rangers on Thursday. Kovalev had lots of opportunities to prove Clouston wrong with 18:18 of ice time.

On the downside for the Senators was their sloppy play in the second and third period. Tonight’s game was Ottawa’s fifth game in seven days and it certainly was evident. This game was no “Picasso” by any means and looked like two struggling teams on the ice tonight. Penalty killing was also an issue tonight much as it has all season long allowing two powerplay goals. Ottawa was a dismal 1-3 on the PK tonight. On the flip side they didn’t capitalize on their powerplays either. Ottawa had four chances on the PP and went 0-4. With the game on the line in the last minute of play and an empty Devils net Clouston made a bold statement by sending Alexi Kovalev onto the ice. Hopefully Kovalev takes this as a positive message.

Ottawa was seven points behind eighth place Atlanta for a playoff spot before tonight’s game. The Senators have now closed the gap to five points and will play another huge game Monday night at Scotiabank Place. Ottawa plays Atlanta on Monday night and can close the gap to just three points with a victory. The next couple of weeks leading up to Christmas will make or break this team and determine whether or not Ottawa will be sellers or buyers come this year’s trade deadline.

Follow me on twitter @SlackSports and check back for my weekly Sens wrap-up piece every Sunday.

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