Ottawa 2, New Jersey 4

The final game of the regular season was the expected no-hitter with little intensity.  Ottawa did themselves a favour by losing to New Jersey in regulation and with a little help can play the Rangers instead of Boston.  The broadcast was handled by the CBC’s Bob Cole and every time I hear him I wonder when they are finally going to put him out to pasture (today Alfredsson became Anderson, which was entertaining).  Here’s the box score.

First Period
The Sens started the game half-asleep, but prevented the Devils from any good chances.  Turris got hauled down on Ottawa’s first opportunity (no call), which was followed by an Ottawa penalty that was killed off very efficiently.  Anderson and Foligno giveaways presented the Devils with their first opportunities, which was followed by a 2-on-1 with Sykora unable to capitalise.  Brodeur put a weak backhand from Gilroy into his own net to give the Sens the early lead.  The Devils tied the game on the powerplay with a great shot from Kovalchuk.  In the final minute Greening had a great chance in the slot, but couldn’t put it home.
Second Period
The Sens started the period on the powerplay, but struggled to get set-up in the Devils zone and gave up a short-handed opportunity.  Smith had the first good chance for Ottawa.  New Jersey took over with a couple of excellent scoring chances in the middle of the frame.  A great shift from Ottawa’s Bingo line resulted in a goal by O’BrienAnderson made a huge save on a Sykora breakaway while the Devils were on the powerplay, but the Sens gave up a 5-on-1 as Klinkhammer, Alfredsson, and Cowen got caught deep and Sykora tied the game.  Michalek had a great chance late to tie it, but shot the puck over the net and then Anderson passed the puck to Kovalchuk whom he stopped on the terrific chance.
Third Period
The Sens had the first good chance of the period as Daugavins was in all alone.  Ottawa had the better chances through the first half of the period.  The Devils took the lead as Gonchar got watching the puck on a 2-on-2 instead of the man and Gionta banged in the rebound.  The Sens got a late powerplay, but had trouble getting pucks to the net.  Parise had a chance to finish the game, but Anderson made a great save.  Greening was unable to capitalise on a great feed from Karlsson late in the game and then Kovalchuk wrapped things up with an empty-netter.

Here’s a look at the goals:
1. Gilroy (Turris, Foligno)
Throws the puck on net with a weak backhand and Brodeur deflects it into his own net
2. New Jersey, Kovalchuk (pp)
Beats Anderson far side from the faceoff dot
3. O’Brien (Condra, Gilroy)
A great pass by Condra through the slot to O’Brien who roofs it on Brodeur
4. New Jersey, Sykora (pp)
Sens give up a 5-on-1 and capitalise on a nice passing play
5. New Jersey, Gionta
Alfredsson forces Ponikarovsky to throw a weak backhand on Anderson who kicks the rebound out and Gonchar is caught watching the puck so Gionta bangs it in
6. New Jersey, Kovalchuk (en)

Top-performers:
Jim O’Brien – excellent on the PK and scored a great goal
Chris Phillips – strong defensively and solid offensively
Matt Gilroy – it was a mixed bag defensively, but you can’t argue with his goal and assist

Players Who Struggled:
Jason Spezza – lapped the field with turnovers

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Senators News: April 7th; Binghamton 1, Norfolk 3

Daniel Alfredsson doesn’t expect the game this afternoon to be full of fireworks, “I don’t think it will be an overly physical affair.”  Paul MacLean de-emphasized the importance of the game, “it’s more important to be prepared for that day. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that once Game 83 comes, it’s a whole new season. Doesn’t matter what you did before you get there. I think it’s two different seasons. Once it starts, momentum is going to go one way or the other. It’s whoever handles the momentum swings the best usually ends up winning.”  Given that there’s almost no chance the two teams will meet in the playoffs, expect a passionless no-hitter.

-I watched Binghamton’s loss last night, with the team overwhelmed during the first period and unable to generate much pressure throughout the game.  There’s a lot of individual play and very little structure in the offensive zone.  Why Tim Conboy played on the powerplay is beyond me (Binghamton was 0-5) and Ben Blood was little used in his debut.  Robin Lehner played well in the loss (making 32 saves), with the second goal bouncing in off Henningson and the third a result of terrible coverage by Patrick WierciochJack Downing scored the team’s only goal.  Here’s the box score and Joy Lindsay‘s game summary.

Kurt Kleinendorst talked about the loss, “You can’t fault the effort, for sure. Again, it’s just a little bit more of the same. Guys show up, make a great effort — really no passengers. (Goalie) Robin (Lehner) didn’t have to be great, but he was good. We’re certainly not pinning this one on him. Funny bounce, puck ends up in the back of the net. The team that’s winning finds a way to win, and the team that’s losing manages to lose. That [second goal] went in off of (Dan) Henningson. But we had a chance to block the shot, which you’ve got to do to find a way to win a hockey game. If we make that block, the puck never gets into the front of the net. It was a shot from a bad angle that they threw to the net, then it bounced off Henningson up in the air over Robin‘s shoulder. As well as we played, two of their three goals were preventable if we just blocked a shot.”

-Elmira won 5-2 last night to avoid elimination in the ECHL playoffs; Brian Stewart picked up the win and Corey Cowick held off the scoresheet.