Ottawa 8, Pittsburgh 4

Tonight the Sens exploded on the Penguins, firing on all cylinders.  Anderson had to come in relief for Bishop and was stellar in preventing a comeback.   For those watching the CBC broadcast they were treated to Greg Millen spending the first half of the game talking about Dan Bylsma.  Here’s the box score.

First Period
Unfortunately I missed half of the first period, including the first three goals (Michalek and two by Cooke).  Neither the first five minutes nor the last were very involved.
Second Period
Bishop drew a penalty and Phillips capitalised on the powerplay to give the Sens a lead.  The Sens scored two shifts later, with a double deflection beating Thiessen.  The Pens responded immediately as Karlsson turned it over and they capitalised on a two-on-one.  Bishop got hurt making a save along the goal line and Anderson came in relief.  The Sens carried the play after the penalty kill.  Alfredsson restored the team goal lead on a partial breakaway short-handed–he subsequently hit the post.
Third Period
Phillips was hit by a shot and missed the next five minutes of the period (the CBC didn’t notice).  The Sens did a good job at cutting down the Penguins chances through the first half of the period.  Crosby cut the deficit to one with Gonchar giving the puck away.  The Penguins gave back the two-goal lead as they got caught on a pair of terrible pinches gave Spezza a clear breakaway and he beat Thiessen five-hole.  Neal hit the post on the powerplay, but the Sens sealed it away with another goal by Alfredsson.  As the Penguins went into goofy mode trying to stir things up the Sens added their final goal on a beautiful three-way passing play ended by Greening.

A look at the goals:
1. Michalek (Greening, Kuba)
Left all alone he bangs in a loose puck
2. Pittsburgh, Cooke
Cowen gets caught and Bishop has the shot go through him
3. Pittsburgh, Cooke
Cowen gets caught again and Crosby makes a beautiful pass to Cooke who is all alone
4. Gonchar (Foligno, Alfredsson)
A great pass to a wide-open Gonchar who beats Thiessen five-hole
5. Phillips (Turris, Alfredsson) (pp)
A great seam-pass that Phillips one-times
6. Turris (Foligno, Gonchar)
Simple shot to the net is deflected twice and beats Thiessen
7. Pittsburgh, Kennedy
Karlsson turns the puck over and Kennedy one-times a cross-ice pass to beat Bishop
8. Alfredsson (Michalek, Cowen) (sh)
Partial breakaway and Alfredsson beats Thiessen top shelf
9. Pittsburgh, Crosby
Gonchar gives the puck away and both O’Brien and Karlsson lose track of Crosby who is left all alone in the slot and makes no mistakes
10. Spezza (Michalek)
Spezza is sent in on a clear breakaway from his own blueline and beats Thiessen five-hole
11. Alfredsson (Foligno)
Foligno drives the net and Alfredsson is left all alone and he beats Thiessen on the back-hand
12. Greening (Karlsson, Spezza) (pp)
A great three-way passing play with a wide-open Greening deflecting the puck in

Top-performers:
Milan Michalek – broke out in a huge way tonight
Daniel Alfredsson – see above (a four point night!)
Craig Anderson – came in cold and was excellent in preventing the Penguins from coming back

Players Who Struggled:
Jared Cowen – was guilty on both of Cooke‘s goals

Senators News: March 24th

Ben Bishop will start tonight against Pittsburgh, which makes sense as I don’t think Paul MacLean wants to throw Craig Anderson to the wolves.

-Sens fans are starting to panic now that Ottawa has only won one of their last six.  I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and relax.  Whether the Sens make the playoffs or not doesn’t detract from how much better they’ve been this year given the expectations.  It’s worth keeping in mind that if they do make the playoffs they aren’t going to get past the first round, so how valuable is that experience really going to be for the roster?  That being said, it’s worth looking at the primary problem for the team: a lack of secondary scoring.  A number of players who are expected to produce are in the midst of deep funks:
Daniel Alfredsson (3 points in his last 12 games)
Kyle Turris (3 point s in his last 11 games)
Nick Foligno (3 points in his last 11 games)
Matt Gilroy (1 point in his 11 games as a Senator)
Sergei Gonchar (1 point in his last 13 games)
Bobby Butler (0 points in his last 10 games played)

Paul MacLean talked about last night’s loss, “Glad we don’t have to play them again. They certainly bring the worst out in us. We weren’t as prepared to play the game, play with enough discipline … It falls on the coaching staff to make sure the players are prepared to play.”

Kurt Kleinendorst talked about last night’s win, “We didn’t give up. I really like the way we’re playing. I told the guys that. It’s really fun for me to stand behind the bench and watch them play because we’ve worked awfully hard and haven’t had great results up to this point, but we’re working hard now and we are getting good results. I’m happy for our guys because individually you’re starting to see their growth and development.

-Sens prospect Chris Wideman‘s NCAA career is over (Miami lost 4-3 in OT) so he may be on his way to Binghamton sooner than later