It’s just what they do against the Islanders. The Senators now own a 41-15-11-1 record in games featuring these two franchises, and the domination continued Thursday night. Strong penalty-killing, combined with some opportunistic goals and another stellar outing from goaltender Brian Elliott (28 saves) added up to Ottawa’s fourth win in its last five games. Will the momentum carry over to Montreal Saturday night?
Jason Spezza, Senators
The Senators’ centre was seeing the ice well Thursday night, and his first assist was Exhibit A. Under pressure along the half-wall in the Islanders’ zone, Spezza spotted a pinching Sergei Gonchar at the other end and sliced a perfect pass through the middle of the zone. The Russian defender made no mistake, putting a shot off the post and in for his second goal in as many games. Spezza finished the night with one goal and three assists.
Dwayne Roloson, Islanders
Spezza was the primary beneficiary of a weak outing by Roloson, but not the only one. The Islanders’ netminder was getting pieces of pucks, but not enough to prevent them from going into his net. He waved at Spezza’s shot with his glove and then watched as it flutter into the cage. Earlier in the second period, David Hale picked up his first goal in an Ottawa sweater by pinging a shot off Roloson’s chest and into the top corner.
The Senators had to loosen up the legs quickly after fourth line grinder Zack Smith ran Isles winger Trevor Gillies into the boards from behind just 3:09 into the game. The ensuing five-minute penalty kill was efficient and stifling. Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher, Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Phillips, Matt Carkner, Hale and Gonchar all deserved major kudos for their PK work.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
The amateur comedian who entertained fans during the second intermission at Scotiabank Place. In-game entertainment host Kimberly G. was interviewing some gladiator helmet-wearing hoser and asked who his favourite player was. Mike Fisher, he replied. Why? “Because he’s a dreeeaaaammm boat,” he said without missing a beat, eliciting guffaws throughout the rink. Hopefully singing star Carrie Underwood, who was apparently in the building to watch her husband play, isn’t the jealous type.
- 4: Wins by the Senators in their last five against the Isles.
- 0-6-2: New York’s record then its opponent scores first.
- 2: Shorthanded breakaways for the Islanders late in the third period.
MR. BETTMAN ON THE LINE
Smith will probably be on pins and needles Friday, waiting to see if he gets a call from the league over the Gillies hit. It wasn’t the most egregious play, considering Smith seemed to ease up a little and Gillies wasn’t exactly protecting himself well (he was standing about two feet from the boards and looking down at the puck), but it’s never a good idea to run an opponent in the numbers. A suspension? Probably not worth it. A fine? Could be. Smith already took his lumps on the ice, getting a final-minute beating from Islanders winger Matt Martin.