2010 has been a year of ‘feast or famine’ so far for the Ottawa Senators; as they began the year in a tailspin, beginning the calendar year with one win, then five straight losses. They have now officially, and completely changed course with a win Tuesday night over the Chicago Blackhawks; who posess the best record in the NHL, and had won three straight before they headed to Ottawa. The win marks the Senators’ fourth straight victory, and will move them past Boston and the Rangers to fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The 4-1 score, as important as the two points in the standings, also marks another definitive victory over a quality opponent. In the Sens’ current four game win streak, three of their four opponents have been occupants of playoff spots. They have outscored those same opponents by a margin of fifteen to four. Tuesday’s win over Chicago is indicative of a statement victory for a team that was in some need of one.
That statement began in the first period with contributions from two unlikely sources. Zack Smith began the scoring at 6:51 of the first with his second NHL goal, and his second in three games. Ryan Shannon followed up with the eventual game winner later in the first for his fifth of the season, on a feed from Peter Regin.
Regin would also score a goal of his own with just under two minutes to go in the second period to widen the gap with the score at 2-1 Ottawa. Mike Fisher would score late in the third to add icing on the cake of the victory. Fisher’s goal would be his seventeenth of the season, and seventh point in his last four games. His goal would be particularly sweet for Ottawa, since it came on the powerplay, against one of the league’s best penalty killing teams – making a dent, however small in their statistically poor powerplay number; which has scored at only a 14% rate this year – worst in the NHL by a fair amount. Chris Neil also added two assists, and was a physical force for the Senators.
Former Senator, Marian Hossa would score the lone Blackhawk goal in the second to make it 2-1. Hossa would be sent into the Senators’ zone alone off a pass from Duncan Keith, and would fire the puck from between the faceoff circles past Ottawa goaltender, Brian Elliott. Hossa’s goal would prove to be the only lapse for Elliott, as he held a potent Chicago offense to only one goal on thirty shots on his way to his eleventh victory of the season.
It would be a different goaltending story at the other end of the ice, as Cristobal Huet would fall short, even when his team gave the Senators very few opportunities. The Blackhawks went into Tuesday’s game averaging only 24 shots against per game – best in the NHL.They would continue that trend, as the Sens would be held to only 15 shots in the game, but still managed four goals.
Ottawa was victorious in its first home game since their January 9th loss to Florida. They will have a day off on Wednesday to rest after their back-to-back games, and soak up the glory of four straight wins. After that, it’s back to work at home Wednesday versus the St. Louis Blues (7:00pm ET – Rogers Sportsnet East TV; Team 1200 Radio; Tickets).
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