Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Comeback completed: Sens 6 Sabres 3

The D-Mac attack is back, Jack! Thanks to Dean McAmmond returning to the lineup after missing the Senators' 7-5 loss to Montreal, the Sens won tonight. I don't want to overstate things, but I'm pretty sure that it's all thanks to McAmmond's short-handed goal mid way through the third period. (Alright, fine, that's a tremendous overstatement; in the efforts for full exposure, I'll admit that I'm a huge McAmmond fan, in case you couldn't tell.) In the end, despite going down 3-1 early in the third period, the Sens responded with five straight goals and won by a final score of 6-3.

Almost to a man, the defence played great. I'll start with Brian Lee, because he's going to have a lot of people saying, "Wade who?" pretty quickly if he plays like he did against the Sabres for every game. He ended up playing over 18 minutes, including some powerplay and penalty-killing time, took two shots on net and had two others blocked--including one which broke a stick and gave the Sens some great sustained offensive pressure in the second. He looked incredibly composed, and you could see him communicating with teammates while on the ice, which was awesome. He played Derek Roy perfectly on a one-on-one, and put Roy down on his can to boot. Plus he stopped a certain goal with his foot in the second period. I hope Lee sticks around for the playoffs, because if tonight is any indication, he can definitely contribute.

After Lee--whose nickname, as declared on Scarlett Ice, is "General"--the rest of the D played pretty well, too. Especially Anton Volchenkov, who scored his first goal of the season off a howitzer and added a couple assists for good measure. But especially Mike Commodore, who finally looked a little better, blocked five shots and threw two hits in over 21 minutes (unfortunately his consecutive point-scoring streak ended at two games). But especially Andrej Meszaros and Chris Phillips. Luke Richardson was pretty quiet, but I guess you should expect that from Richardson.

Strange but true: Mike Fisher, Cory Stillman, and Antoine Vermette all had more ice time than either of Dany Heatley or Jason Spezza. It's just something we haven't seen much of, but considering the way Heatley and Spezza played in the first two periods, they didn't really earn much ice time. Daniel Alfredsson didn't even lead the forwards in ice time (Fisher did), but his two goals were a couple of beauties and his assist on Volchie's goal was a great cut-cross-cash sequence (i.e. cut away from the Buffalo defenceman, pass across the ice to Volchenkov, who cashed in the winning goal).

Randy Robitaille was once again invisible. I don't know if that was why he only got 5:20 of ice time, or because he only got that much ice time, but coach Bryan Murray warned him that he's not got any spots locked, so if he wants to stay in the lineup when Chris Kelly comes back, or even when Cody Bass comes back, he's going to need to do more than he did. And Chris Neil, the next lowest player in terms of ice time on Ottawa, didn't take a penalty! Hooray! He actually drew one, too, so he was +1 in penalties drawn/penalties taken plus/minus rating.

In the nets, Martin Gerber did not look good on Roy's first goal. He had no chance on the second, or on Jason Pominville's goal, but he looked downright terrible on the first one. He amde some key saves, though--29 on the night--and I think he earned the start on Thursday against the Sabres again.

But hey, it's a win, right? Even if the team bombed the first forty minutes, it's a valuable two points on the way to clinching a playoff spot. Go Sens go.
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