Ottawa - December 17, 2011 - The Ottawa Senators exploded for five second period goals on their way to a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place tonight. Jason Spezza (2g, 2a) and Daniel Alfredsson (1g, 2a) combined for seven points and a plus seven rating on the night as the Senators moved into a playoff postion if only for one night.
Jason Spezza is on a tear. Spezza has nine points (3 goals and 6 assists) and a plus 5 rating in his last four games. He leads the team with 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 33 games for the Senators. Spezza has always been a bit of a streaky player and this last stretch of games is no different.
He’s also managed to cut down on his turnovers, which would get him in the dog house with Senators management. When Spezza is playing well, he carries the puck alot and shots more often. The line of Alfredsson-Spezza-Greening dominated tonight and if it weren’t for a couple of posts they could’ve had even more points.
One of the down sides for the Senators tonight was their penalty killing. The Senators gave up 2 goals on 4 short handed situations and were 24th in the league with an 80% efficiency. That rate of course will go down after tonight’s performance. What was most disconcerting was the fact that the Senators were out of position for most of the penalty kills and were caught running around. The penalty kill remains one of the achilles heals of this team.
The Senators currently sit in eight place in the Eastern Conference with 34 points in 33 games. Four teams are within two points in the Senators with both Washington and New Jersey having three games in hand, so the lead won’t last for the Senators. Still, most experts predicted the Senators would finish dead last in the Eastern Conference, so they’ve exceeded expectations so far. The Senators finish the month with four out of the six games at home. With home games against Buffalo, Montreal, Calgary and Florida, who the Senators beat earlier this year, there are points up for grabs. Even the two road games, in Carolina and Buffalo are up for grabs.
Alfredsson can still play effectively in the NHL and he and Jason Spezza have always had great chemistry.
Alex Auld was shaky at best. He made a few solid saves in the first period, but I thought he could’ve stopped one or two of the Penguins second period goals.
How come the knee Foligno took in the Boston game resulted in a five minute penalty and game misconduct and the one in the Pittsburgh game was a two minute penalty? No consistency.
The Senators had three solid games this week and deserved to go 3-0, outplaying the Sabres, Bruins and Penguins. If not for Tim Thomas they would’ve.