Ottawa - Nov. 13, 2011 - Special teams and strong goaltending led the way for the Ottawa Senators in a 5-2 victory over their provincial rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs. Craig Anderson bounced back from a terrible outing in Buffalo the night before and saved 31 of 33 shots to lead the Senators to victory. Despite being outshot though, the game was pretty even, with both teams having the same number of quality scoring chances.
The defense was solid tonight and kept the Leafs to the outside for most of the night. When the Leafs did get a good scoring chance, Anderson was there to shut the door. It was a nice win for Anderson and hopefully tonight’s game will give him the boost and confidence he needs to provide the Senators with more solid goaltending.
The Senators won the special teams battle at both ends of the ice tonight. The penalty killing unit was a successful 5 for 5 killing penalties tonight, killing two crucial penalties late in the third period with the outcome of the game still in doubt. For most of the night, the Senators penalty killing kept the Leafs to the outside, limiting their chances.
It’s been a huge improvement for a penalty killing unit that was last in the league (30th), just two weeks ago. The Senators have now successfully killed off 62 of 79 short-handed situations for a 78.5% success rate, ranking them 21st in the NHL. Although, the penalty killing isn’t high, its been much improved since earlier in the year.
On the other end of the spectrum is the power play. The turning point in the game was Phillipe Dupuis four minute high sticking penalty on Nick Foligno. This put the Leafs down two men. Foligno quickly made the Leafs pay with his 5th of the year to put the Senators ahead 2-1 where they would stay.
The Senators power play has been great most of the year and even their first goal of the game by Sergei Gonchar was scored with a man advantage during a delayed penalty call against the Leafs, although it won’t be counted as a power play goal. The Senators power play has an efficiency rate of 25% which is 3rd in the NHL and they’ve had their most success on the road where they’ve scored on 8 of 27 opportunities for a 29.6% efficiency.
Although the Senators are young, they can still ice a pretty experienced power play unit with Spezza, Michalek, Alfredsson, Gonchar and Karlsson as their first unit. Gonchar’s most effective when quarterbacking the power play and he’s scored two goals in the last two games with a man advantage.
The Senators were playing their third game in four nights, so why was it the Leafs that looked like the more tired hockey team?
On the Leafs second goal, Jesse Winchester had the puck behind the Senators net. Instead of throwing the puck around the boards or at least into the corner, he made a blind back pass to a Leafs player. When are the Senators going to learn that blind back passes in their own zone don’t work?
Zack Smith had a solid game at both ends of the ice. The more physical Smith is the better he seems to play.
The first period penalty to Jessie Winchester for diving after being hooked by Joffrey Lupul was pathetic. The referees always seem to be intimidated when their in an original six building.
Couldn’t help but notice MacLean reading the riot act to Chris Phillips and Sergei Gonchar. Nice to see that even the veterans aren’t above being criticized.