WHY THE SENATORS WON
They realized the holiday break was over. While the Pittsburgh Penguins looked tired and sluggish after a couple days of Christmas cheer, the Senators showed up at Scotiabank Place ready to play. They jumped all over Pittsburgh early, running up a 12-6 shots advantage and a 2-0 lead on the scoreboard before the game was 20 minutes old. By the time the Penguins woke up, it was too late.
Erik Karlsson, Senators
If you tune in to HBO’s ‘NHL 24/7’ Wednesday night, don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma’s first intermission speech goes something like this: “Will someone take (expletive deleted) No. 65!?” Karlsson was the best player on the ice, which is saying a lot considering his company. With two goals and one assist, he passed Daniel Alfredsson as the Senators’ point leader (23).
Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins
Didn’t see this one coming. Fleury entered this game on a personal 15-1-1 run and was a big reason the Penguins sat atop the NHL standings Sunday night. He was beaten on three point shots, however, and seemed to have trouble tracking the puck through traffic in the first period.
Another stellar outing for Senators netminder Brian Elliott. He stopped 22 shots in the second period alone, including two point blank volleys by Evgeni Malkin and Pascal Dupuis in the dying seconds. If the Pens were going to mount a comeback, it probably would have started there. The scrambling and deep net play that characterized much of Elliott’s December have been replaced by solid positioning and calm puck control. That’s two straight wins for him.
- 1: Loss for the Penguins in their last four games.
- 900: Career NHL games for Senators defenceman Chris Phillips.
- 44: Saves by Brian Elliott.
- 48: Penalty minutes in what turned out to be a scrappy affair.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
Lost in all the hype over Crosby’s scoring streak was the recent, dominant play of his biggest co-star. Evgeni Malkin entered the game with five goals and five assists in his last 10 games, making Elliott’s near-shutout that much more impressive. While Crosby extended his scoring streak to 24 games with a late goal, it was a quiet night for Geno. All things considered, this was a pretty stunning outcome.
WORST. SHIFT. EVER.
Early in the second period, Pens agitator Matt Cooke completely flattened undersized Senator Ryan Shannon, knocking him to the ice with a bloody nose. Seconds later, Kris Letang sent Jason Spezza flying awkwardly into the boards with a hit from behind. Spezza was in obvious pain as jogged to the dressing room clutching his arm, trainer in tow. That caused a scrum on the ice and, to add insult to injury, the officials sent Shannon to the penalty box for roughing. Ouch.