Scanlan: Senators feast again on Wing night

The Ottawa Senators have taken a liking to Joe Louis Arena.

Scanlan: Senators feast again on Wing night
Chris Neil #25 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates a first period goal with Zack Smith #15 and Cory Conacher #89 while playing the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on November 23, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

DETROIT — The Ottawa Senators have taken a liking to Joe Louis Arena.

As much trouble as they have had elsewhere, including home sweet home, the Senators are 2-0 at the Joe, following Saturday’s 4-2 victory over the Daniel Alfredsson-less Red Wings.

The visitors bounced back from a shaky opening.

Despite being badly out played in the first period, the Senators survived quite nicely, leading 2-1 while being at the short end of the shot clock (17-7).

A textbook road period. Sure, let’s go with that.

Those 16 saves by goaltender Robin Lehner were big, as the Senators needed him early on before they found their legs.

Darren Helm ignited the crowd when he put the Red Wings up 1-0 by tipping a Tomas Tatar shot on the power play at 13:23 of the first period. The lead was temporary.

Winger Clarke MacArthur answered back a little more than a minute later when he lifted his own rebound into an open net past Jimmy Howard. MacArthur also scored Ottawa’s fourth goal, in the third period, to put the game away.

The Senators have been looking for a decent bounce in recent games and received a beauty when a bouncing puck veered off the skate of Wings defenceman Brendan Smith into his own net, a goal credited to Chris Neil in the first period. Smith and Neil later fought, a lengthy bout that saw Smith receive several punches to the head while his helmet was off.

Ottawa fans didn’t get to gloat about the goal off the skate, because the Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk got a similar break as his third period power play pass attempt redirected into the Ottawa net off the skate of Jared Cowen.

Just as they did in the first period, the Senators answered back on a power play goal by Bobby Ryan, to regain the lead at 3-2.

The Wings and their fans were starting to get worried about a repeat of the 6-1 Ottawa win here a month ago.

“Every time they shot the puck it went in the net,” grumbled Wings head coach Mike Babcock about that Oct. 23 game. He must have wondered when that own goal went in if a repeat performance was in store.

Instead, the Wings kept things close until late in the game. Lehner was a difference-maker while facing Detroit for the first time since he was a 19-year-old rookie making his home ice debut on Feb. 2, 2011.

Lehner was pulled from the game in the second period of a game that ended 7-5. He had given up four goals when he was yanked.

“Franzen was on fire, I think he scored five goals,” Lehner recalled, correctly. “He scored two on me, and then three more when I got pulled.

“It’s a great building and this is one of those teams you always wanted to play growing up,” Lehner said. “Detroit is a team you want to beat.”

For whatever reason, the Senators do better against some of the Eastern superior teams, like Boston and Detroit.

“Fear is a pretty good motivator,” said Senators head coach Paul MacLean. “When you play some of the elite teams in the league, it’s always a challenge. So you want to make sure you’re ready for that game.”

GAME FILE

WHY THEY WON

The Senators executed their lone 5-on-3 power play to perfection, setting up a classic one-timer by Ryan for the GWG.

CHEERS

To the calm presence of Robin Lehner.

JEERS

To the diving, trying to secure a penalty. Johan Franzen went down as if shot, off a mild slash from Zack Smith. Datsyuk tanked a brush by Cowen. MacArthur also sold a trip well to draw a penalty.

WEIRD STAT

Four 5-on-3s in one game, three of them in favour of the Red Wings.

wscanlan@ottawacitizen.com
Twitter.com/HockeyScanner

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