Ottawa 5, Pittsburgh 1

Despite an awful opening five minutes and indifferent play in the third period, the Sens capitalized on their chances and buried the short-handed Penguins.  Erik Karlsson was a surprise scratch with an as yet unknown upper-body injury.  Click here for the box score.  A look at the goals:
1. Neil (Turris, Foligno)
Allowed to walk out in front of the net Neil bangs in his own rebound
2. Butler (Foligno)
A great pass on an odd-man rush that Butler puts away
3. Spezza (Greening, Phillips)
A great individual effort by Spezza who draws out Johnson and then slides the puck in from behind the net
4. Michalek (Greening, Spezza) (pp)
Re-directs the puck in off his skate
5. Pittsburgh, Malkin
Gonchar throws the puck away and Malkin beats Anderson short-side
6. Michalek (Greening, Kuba)
Great pass to a wide-open Michalek who makes no mistake

Top-performers:
Milan Michalek – two goals and strong defensively
Jason Spezza –  a goal and an assist and didn’t turn the puck over
Zack Smith – didn’t show up on the score sheet, but was great defensively and on the forecheck

Players Who Struggled:
Chris Phillips – completely invisible other than a couple of turnovers
Jared Cowen – struggled with puck management and lead blueliners in turnovers

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Senators News: January 10th

-Only one lineup change against Pittsburgh tonight, with Brian Lee playing instead of Matt Carkner

The Ottawa Sun‘s Bruce Garrioch suffers a moment of delusion when he writes, “The Senators are going to stick with a hot hand in net tonight, meaning Craig Anderson will get the start against the Penguins” (link).  Anderson was terrible in his last outing, which throws some water on whatever heat Garrioch thinks is being generated.

The Ottawa Citizen‘s Wayne Scanlan wonders how the Sens have achieved success without riding on the backs of multiple career years from veterans (link), correctly pointing out that rookies and sophomore players have been the key–providing secondary scoring.  The young players have also been key members defensively, with Zack Smith, Erik Condra, and Kaspars Daugavins on the PK, but the primary element is secondary scoring.  For years the Sens were overly dependent on their top line for goals, but with the depth on the team it has taken the pressure off and made the team harder to defend against.

-TSN’s, Sportsnet‘s and The Hockey News‘ power rankings are out (linklink and link) with Ottawa 14th, 10th and 11th.

Sports Illustrated‘s Stu Hackel agrees with my view on the NHLPA’s rejection of NHL realignment (link), saying “to my mind, the NHLPA’s refusal was less about the upcoming negotiations per se and more about living under the current CBA, which gives the players various rights concerning the conditions of their employment. For longer in its history than not, the NHLPA didn’t do much with these rights and rubber-stamped the NHL’s proposals or didn’t even bother to question them. But by insisting on raising realignment issues that troubled the union, the NHLPA has indicated it’s not going to function that way any longer.”