Senators find road relief at their last stop
“Thanks, I needed that”: Old skin bracer commercial
Long before he starred in Argo, or played Frosty the Snow Man, John Goodman was best known for slapping a skin bracer on his lean, young face and then winking: “Thanks, I needed that.”
The Ottawa Senators 3-2 victory in New York on Friday was their version of the old Mennen skin bracer commercials. Boy, they “needed that.”
For their confidence. For the their psyche.
Four straight road losses, and one win in their previous 10 away from Scotiabank Place, becomes a burden to a young team trying to overcome adversity. After grinding one out at Madison Square Garden — and the manner they did it, recovering from a blown 2-0 lead — there were broad smiles on faces in the Senators dressing room at MSG. Let’s just say the post-game music was extra loud, as the players revelled in their lone victory of a five-game road spell.
By winning in regulation, the Senators also kept the Rangers from tying them in point totals — broadening the gap to four points. New York played goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in a back to back situation, and Brad Richards returned from injury to face Ottawa. The Rangers wanted this one as badly as the Senators, but continued to experience frustration at home against this team (Ottawa is 12-1-1 in the past 14 games in New York).
“That was a huge win,” said defenceman Chris Phillips, who stood up for a teammate as part of this morale-building evening.
Phillips felt it was important to demonstrate solidarity, after the Dave Dziurzynski concussion suffered in a fight with Frazer McLaren in Toronto, and after the hit by Philadelphia’s Harry Zolnierczyk on Ottawa defenceman Mike Lundin.
Phillips said he believed a response to Haley was “appropriate,” although he didn’t agree with the instigator calls. After escaping his 19-minute sentence for fighting Micheal Haley, following the hit on Jim O’Brien, Phillips stretched his tight muscles and rejoined the action.
His teammates deserve credit for hanging in while playing with only five defencemen for about one third of the game. As the game hung in the balance, tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Phillips said the team had an aggressive mindset.
“We wanted to play the third period like we’re down a goal,” Phillips said. “That’s when we’re at our best. Not just sitting back and waiting. They have too many good players that’ll burn you if you do that. We did a great job, shift after shift, of getting pucks deep and putting pressure on them.”
To win on the road, the Senators need their young players to find their way. With six first-year players in his lineup Friday, head coach Paul MacLean knows he’s not going to get consistently strong road games from everyone. But if he can get a couple of guys here, and a couple there, stepping up. It makes a huge difference.
In New York, Mika Zibanejad had a big game, even if he didn’t record a point. He produced five shots on goal, had three hits and was not for any goals against.
What is it with the Swedes playing in New York? Are they all resolved to impress Lundqvist?
Goaltender Robin Lehner recorded his first victory of the season against his boyhood hero, captain Daniel Alfredsson was stellar as usual and Jakob Silfverberg made no mistake, firing the winning shot, upstairs past the glove hand of King Henry.
Lehner said that Ottawa fans can expect Silfverberg to continue to produce as he gets used to life in the NHL. This was his fourth of the year, along with shootout contributions.
“He gets better and better every week,” Lehner said. “That’s how it was down in Bingo too. In the beginning he was trying to find some space and then he started scoring every game.
After a slow start with Binghamton, Silfverberg warmed up to score 13 goals and 29 points in 34 games before leaving the AHL for the big club.
With the two points, the Senators solidified their hold on 6th place in the East, moving into a tie in points (30) with fifth place Toronto.
There are wins and there are WINS! This one in New York City was a WIN!
The Senators had a complete day off on Saturday and are scheduled to return to the ice for an 11 a.m. practice at Sensplex on Sunday. On Monday, the Senators play host to the Boston Bruins before finishing out the week with games in Montreal and Buffalo.
Looming in the horizon is a five-game homestand from March 21-30 that will be critical games in which to “bank” points before a seven-game road trip immediately thereafter.
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