WHY THE SENATORS WON
After a bit of a sluggish start, the Senators made their chances count against a goaltender who wasn’t at the top of his game and a defence corps that left plenty of lanes open. The Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev and Peter Regin line was particularly adept at exploiting those holes and toyed with Atlanta’s blueliners for stretches. This was an important win: Ottawa didn’t have the dreaded letdown game after a big victory in Montreal Saturday and ran its winning streak to four games against a team they were tied with in the standings.
Jason Spezza, Senators
After a one-game absence from the scoresheet, Spezza was back to his old tricks Tuesday night. He roofed shots to the top corner in the first and third periods to boost season his goal total to four. Add an assist on Sergei Gonchar’s power play marker and the Senators’ centre has seven points in his last three contests.
Chris Mason, Thrashers
Atlanta won’t win many games with goaltending like this. It appeared Mason got a decent look at all of the shots that wound up beating him, but he consistently left the corners of his net wide open and failed to control the puck around his crease. Mason finally got the hook after allowing his fourth goal on the night on just the 18th shot of the night.
It was a big night for guys named Chris. Three of them — Neil, Phillips and Kelly — combined on the goal that really took the wind out of Atlanta’s sails. Phillips originally received credit for the tally that made it 3-1 at 5:04 of the second period (which would have virtually guaranteed a win for the Senators, given they’re 41-9-6 when the shutdown specialist bulges the twine), but it was later changed to Neil. No matter, Ottawa cruised after that one anyways.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
…this strange statistic: For all the talk about the wide-open ‘new NHL,’ the team that scores the first goal usually goes on to win the game. For example, the Senators are 6-0 when opening the scoring and 2-6-1 otherwise. There’s no such trend in Atlanta. After going up 1-0 on the Senators and blowing the lead, they have just one win in six games when they beat the opposing goalie first (and a 5-4 record when they don’t). Maybe they should start games with six skaters?
- 6: Ottawa wins in the last seven games
- 4: Consecutive games with at least a point for Gonchar
- 35: Saves for Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott
- -2: Plus-minus rating for young Atlanta stars Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane
Getting kicked down to the fourth line might have been the best thing to happen to Nick Foligno this season. Playing without the pressure of a top-six job, he worked well with fellow muckers Ryan Shannon and Jesse Winchester. Their efforts drew the penalty that resulted in Spezza’s first goal and they notched one of their own in the second. Foligno wrapped a shot around on Mason from the side of the net and Winchester was there to bash in the rebound.