Ottawa - November 28, 2011 - For the third time this year, goaltender Craig Anderson bounced back from a game where he was pulled early, to put in a solid effort for the Senators. Anderson was solid on the night, saving 34 of 37 shots, including 13 of 14 in the first period when the Senators were outplayed by the Carolina Hurricanes. Anderson’s solid effort and Jason Spezza’s two goals lead the Senators to a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jason Spezza scored his seventh and eight goals of the season in the first period to give the Senators a 2-1 first period lead. Spezza scored for the first time in 12 games, with his last goal being on October 29th in a 5-4 win in New York over the Rangers. Despite Spezza’s 11 game drought, he still leads the team with 22 points (8 goals and 14 assists).
Spezza is definitely one of the leaders on this team. His leadership skills on and off the ice are improving. Not only does he lead by example on the ice but he’s constantly talking to the young players on the bench. His defensive play has also improved and I haven’t seen any of those dreadful back passes he used to make in opposing team’s end.
The penalty killing unit has been the topic of many of our articles this year. Coming into the game the Senators were ranked 26th in the league with a penalty killing efficiency of 79.2%. The Senators have been particularily bad at home where they have only killed off 72.9% of their short handed situations. Tonight, the Senators killed off 7 of 8 shot handed opportunites. A big part of the penalty killing was the play of Craig Anderson. Your goaltender often has to be your best penalty killer and tonight Anderson was.
The Senators still do seem lost sometimes on the penalty kill. They often get themselves in situations where positionally they are running around. Tonight, they got caught running around on a couple of the penalty kills only to have Anderson bail them out. I’m not sure why the penalty kill has been so much worse at home (83% on the road), but the Senators have put themselves in the hole quite often at home by taking bad penalties and then killing them off.
Erik Karlsson added two assists tonight and now leads all defensemen in scoring with 21 points (1 goal and 20 assists). The third year pro, Karlsson is leading all defensemen in all-star ballotting. After a rough start to the season Karlsson’s play has been getting better each game. His smooth skating style and lack of panic in pressure situations is showing his maturity. He’s been great on the power play with Sergei Gonchar this year and despite the odd defensive lapse in his own zone, he’s been solid. Coach Paul MacLean has shown lots of confidence in Karlsson which is evident based on the amount of ice time he gets.
The Senators now go back on the road for the next three games in Winnipeg, Dallas and Washington before returning home for a game against the Lightning a week from Monday. These next three games will be a nice test for the road weary Senators.
Not sure about the refereeing in tonight’s game. I thought the call on Filatov was questionable at best.
Speaking of Filatov, I thought he was very good tonight. He almost scored in the second period but was stopped on a nice save by Cam Ward.
Zack Smith has been solid this year. Not only did he score his fourth goal of the season tonight which turned out to be the winner, but Smith leads the team with a +5 rating.
Phillip Kuba has been solid on the blue-line this season. His play has been solid this year and being paired with Karlsson, he’s the right match for the duo. His stay at home style matches with Karlsson’s style of taking off with the puck and playing offense.