Blackhawks overwhelm sluggish Senators

Robin Lehner did his best to try and steal a victory for the Ottawa Senators Friday, but the rest of his team was no match for the speedier and hungrier Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks overwhelm sluggish Senators
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Robin Lehner did his best to try and steal a victory for the Ottawa Senators Friday, but the rest of his team was no match for the speedier and hungrier Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks came in waves in the opening two periods of the 2-1 victory, with former Senators star Marian Hossa scoring the game winner on a second period power play.

The ice appeared tilted in favour of the Blackhawks (35-24-7) for extended periods, especially when the line of Hossa, Patrick Kane and Andrew Brunette was on the ice.

“I thought Kane and Hossa had their own puck on the ice for a little while, and wouldn’t let us play with it,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean. “I thought that was the difference in the game. Their skilled players had the puck a lot and when that happens, you end up chasing them around.”

MacLean credited Lehner for keeping the game close, at least giving the Senators hope for a late comeback. The Senators (34-24-8) did push late against Ray Emery, the former Senators goaltender playing his first game at Scotiabank Place since being bought out of his contract by the organization in 2008, but Emery stood his ground. He also caught a few breaks, with Jason Spezza hitting the post and with Matt Gilroy missing a wide open net in the final period.

“He played solid,” Alfredsson said of Emery. “I don’t think we tested him enough until the third period. We really didn’t generate as much as we have in previous games and that’s why we lost.”

The Blackhawks came into the game as an inconsistent bunch. Their 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday ended a three game losing streak and they had posted a record of 5-11-1 in their previous 17 games. Emery came on in relief against Toronto and Chicago will likely go with his hot hand now.

Emery says it was special to play against some of his old friends, but “it was a huge game for the team as far as the playoff battle goes, so you’ve got to forget about that stuff and focus on the game.”

The Senators, meanwhile, were red hot, with a 7-1-1 record in their previous nine games, including Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins, where Lehner posted his first career shutout.

From the outset, the Blackhawks had the jump on the Senators. It could have a blowout early, but Lehner still had the magic touch (and feet) Friday, allowing the Senators to take the lead on Milan Michalek’s first period goal.

Bryan Bickell, on a delayed penalty call, and Hossa, on the power play, put the Blackhawks ahead to stay early in the second period. After two periods, the Blackhawks led 34-16 in shots.

“Robin played another great game, made some really spectacular saves and we just couldn’t come up with that extra goal for him,” said Alfredsson.

GAME FILE

Why They Lost: They couldn’t generate an offensive attack until the third period. In the opening two periods, the Blackhawks skating circles around the Senators, relying on Robin Lehner to keep them close.

Stud: Marian Hossa, Blackhawks. The ex-Senator scored the game winner, but he was a threat on every shift. If not for Robin Lehner and the posts, he could have scored three or four goals.

Dud: Kyle Turris, Senators. Jason Spezza needs some help down the middle and Turris is struggling to do much of anything as a second-line centre. Daniel Alfredsson, Turris’s right winger, only received decent scoring chances when coach Paul MacLean put him with Spezza in the third period.

PUCK POISE: Six minutes into the third period, Alfredsson had lost his stick when the puck came to him behind the Senators net. With the Blackhawks charging towards him, Alfredsson put the blade of his skate on the top of the puck, danced with it for a few seconds, and then passed the puck with his foot.

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