The Ottawa Senators and their latest acquisition, the NHL’s tallest goaltender, Ben Bishop, struck the Tampa Bay Lightning hard with a 7-3 victory, completing the sweep of the Bolts this season and showing clearly why they are higher up in the Eastern Conference race for the playoffs than their sunshine state counterparts. Milan Michalek scored a hat trick with two empty net goals marking goals 30 and 31, besting his season high and then some (the previous record was 26).
But one of the best takeaways from this game is a note to Maclean: do not remove Colin Greening from the first line and move him to the fourth. Greening moved back to his position on the first line and it paid off with Greening’s Gordie Howe hat trick, which included a bloody tilt against the former Leaf Keith Aulie. He brought energy and offense to the game and he belongs on that first line.
Indeed, the entire team is competing harder with the post-season in sight. Ottawa’s holding steady at 7 in the standings, but there are several teams vying for spots, which makes every game count. While Ottawa dropped a game to Florida on Sunday, which may be a sign of things to come should the standings hold, they bounced back well. Tampa Bay was the perfect team to bounce back with, considering that Ottawa has had their number.
Tampa Bay has been on a hot streak lately, but their game strategy against the Sens clearly failed. Their entire defensive strategy seemed to revolve around cover Spezza, which was only half successful. They did manage to keep Spezza off the score card; unfortunately, they were so busy covering him, they forgot about Greening, Gonchar, Karlsson, Turris and Michalek- no less than three times.
Their entire offensive strategy revolved around one line, which has been the hottest line for the team, namely Stamkos, St. Louis and Teddy Purcell. They got some secondary scoring from former Senator Ryan Shannon and Wallacce in the second and Stamkos delivered on a power play goal. But Tampa Bay’s real downfall on the night was their disorganized defensive play. They already lost their last line of defense when Mathieu Garon came down in the first period, with what appeared to be a groin injury. Roloson did a decent job as back up, but he was clearly not in his top form and probably didn’t expect to have to play.
Chris Phillips was knocked out in the first period with a broken nose and didn’t return to the game, marking the second casualty of this match up. And while it wasn’t all smiles on the Tampa Bay Lightning bench as they went down, there was one seemingly unintentionally hilarious moment provided by Guy Boucher in the third period after Michalek scored his 30th goal of the season on a power play, as he began to applaud.
It was an unsmiling and unenthusiastic round of applause, much like the one that you would expect from a Bond villain as he twirls around in his eggshell armchair, sarcastically applauding the hapless people who discover his nefarious plans. But even with a timeout late in the third, there was no plan to pull the Bolts out of this one and they went down hard.
This victory should give the Sens a boost, as they face one of their tougher challenges on Thursday, against the New York Rangers. This next game will not be an easy one and Ottawa should brace themselves. At least they have a goaltender who can stand tall.
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.