It was a 2 point night for Karlsson and Carlson of the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals respectively, but it was one runaway victory for the home team as the Sens downed the Caps 5-2. Ottawa extends their winning streak to 4 games while Washington extends their slump without their Captain Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom missing in action for quite some time. This has left the top Centreman role to Brooks Laich, a character player for the Washington Capitals whose work ethic probably should have branded him with the C a long time ago, but as HBO’s spotlight on Bruce Boudreau has shown in the past, the Caps aren’t the easiest team to motivate in the East.
Minus a third period burst of energy, the Senators controlled 50 of the 60 minutes played in this game. They were faster, smarter and more alert than the Caps, who struggled to find the back of the net despite outshooting Ottawa. But with Karlsson lining it up, Michalek back to winning form and Phillips of the 1000 games getting in on the goal scoring action, Ottawa made a formidable opponent.
Maclean spoke to the media about the difference maker for Ottawa in the second half of the season and he mentioned the defense becoming a part of the offense was a big part of the team’s success. It should be, considering that their defense wasn’t much to write home about, so the blue line may as well get involved in net chasing. Fortunately, Ottawa’s aggressive game style paid off in this game and they didn’t have to play hard D on the Caps, who looked disorganized and just a little bit slow in their end.
It was a painful game for Washington in more ways than one, as Perrault scored one off his face in the third, going down pretty hard, but not only managing the goal, but keeping his teeth in the process. Carlson had a less painful run to the net with his power play goal to open up the scoring for the Capitals. Michalek also felt some pain on a run-in with the net which triggered past injury fears for Ottawa fans, but quickly recovered to come back with a pretty highlight reel worthy goal on his second net charge of the night.
Anderson kept Ottawa in the game with some timely saves and a monster save on Johanssen in the second period with a flash of leather. And Foligno’s empty netter put the game away in the dying seconds of the third and provided some much needed relief to Foligno who hasn’t scored since January.
Credit has to be given to Michalek for his career best 27 goals in a season which he scored tonight and Karlsson for effectively leaving NHL defensemen in the dust with a 20 point gap between him and the second best in the league for points. He has gone from being a somewhat scary to watch player with turnovers, to a scary good player with an eye for the net. While some critics think it’s premature to proclaim that Karlsson is going to be one of the greatest of all time, as owner Melnyk himself has said, there is no doubt that nobody in the league right now plays like he does and he will be hard to pass up when it’s time to hand out awards this summer.
Ottawa’s hitting its stride at a crucial point in the season when playoffs are just around the corner. They’re sitting pretty in a spot right now, but other teams are nipping at their heels. Don’t expect the GM to go shopping with trade deadline looming; it will come and go in Ottawa as the focus becomes wins and consistency, as it should.
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.