Senators lose another player, win another game

Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the Ottawa Senators’ string of injury problems is their ability to survive them. Over and over again.

Senators lose another player, win another game
Patrick Wiercioch #46 of the Ottawa Senators (R) congratulates Sergei Gonchar #55 (L) on he game winning goal at 19:00 of the third period against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 19, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

UNIONDALE, N.Y — Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the Ottawa Senators’ string of injury problems is their ability to survive them. Over and over again.
Sergei Gonchar scored the winning goal in the unlikeliest of comebacks Tuesday, beating New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with a shot off the post with exactly one minute remaining. Guillaume Latendresse then scored into an empty net to cap the 5-3 win.
Goals by Jakob Silfverberg and Zack Smith, only 1:08 apart early in the thid period, had allowed the Senators to erase a 3-1 deficit against the Islanders.
The stunning comeback temporarily took away the sting of a potentially devastating injury to defenceman Marc Methot.
In fact, the search for a proven NHL scorer may no longer be the biggest issue for Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray before the trade deadline April 3. The primary concern could be finding a top defenceman.
After Methot joined the never-ending list of injured Senators – he limped off the ice with an apparent right leg injury after a hard, but clean hit from the Islanders’ Brad Boyes early in the second period – the Senators have yet another enormous hole to fill.
Methot has averaged 23:09 per game this season, a mainstay as a top four – oftentimes top two – defenceman and a vital member of the club’s penalty killing unit.
The Senators described the ailment as a “lower body injury,” but there was no immediate word on the severity. If Methot is out for any length of time it will put an enormous strain on the existing members of the blue line, already stretched to their limits. Jared Cowen and Erik Karlsson are gone for the year following hip and Achilles surgery, respectively.
Mike Lundin is ready to return from his concussion and the club will likely recall Mark Borowiecki from Binghamton of the American Hockey League, but the Senators don’t have another player in the organization who has the ability to serve as a shutdown defenceman for more than 20 minutes per game.
Even with the loss of Methot and a lacklustre performance through the opening two periods, the Senators somehow found a way to rally.
They appeared done and buried before Silfverberg deflected a Patrick Wiercioch shot over Nabokov’s shoulder at the 1:07 mark of the third. Only 1:08 later, Smith picked up a loose puck after Gonchar broke his stick on a shot attempt and beat Nabokov inside the post, tying the game 3-3.
The Senators caught a break at the 7:22 mark, when a goal originally credited to the Islanders’ Keith Aucoin was overturned following video review. It was ruled that Aucoin, who also scored the Islanders first goal, had kicked the puck past Bishop.
It was a tough blow for the Islanders, in the midst of a dogfight for one of the precious final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Before Tuesday’s games, only three points separated the sixth-placed Toronto Maple Leafs and the 10th-placed Islanders.
The Islanders appeared to be in good shape after two periods.
After Matt Kassian opened the scoring early for the Senators, the Islanders took the lead with goals late in the first and early in the second. Bishop should have stopped them both.
Aucoin’s goal, with 2:07 left in the first, slipped between Bishop’s pads. Only 14 seconds into the second, Josh Bailey somehow managed to shove the puck past Bishop from outside the crease.
The Islanders padded the lead to 3-1 when Lubomir Visnovsky finally took advantage of the Senators parade to the penalty box.
Kassian’s goal was a deflection of a Gonchar shot 6:23 into the game. It was Kassian’s first goal as a Senator and only the third of his NHL career, and considering he was brought to Ottawa for his muscle, it’s staggering that he registered a goal before a fight in his new colours. Gonchar’s assist extended his point scoring streak to eight games, tying Filip Kuba’s franchise record for defencemen. His assist streak is the longest in the NHL this season.
Gonchar also had another assist to go along with his last minute goal. With Methot now out, the Senators are going to ask Gonchar to do even more in order to survive in their quest to make the playoffs.

GAME FILE

CHEERS

Sergei Gonchar, Senators. One goal, two assists and a plus 5 in a game where the Senators were forced to play with only five defenceman due to an early injury to Marc Methot.

JEERS

The injury gods. Yes, you’ve read that here before. But it’s beyond ridiculous at this point. The lower body injury suffered by Senators defenceman Marc Methot in the second period Tuesday added to a team which came into the game having already lost 140 man games to injury.

WHY THEY WON

An unwillingness to give up despite a two-goal deficit and another injury.

BROKEN STICK, BROKEN PLAY, BROKEN HEARTS FOR ISLANDERS

Zack Smith’s goal, which tied the game 3-3, came after Gonchar broke his stick on a shot attempt and the puck slid to Smith.

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