Game Summary: Game 6 - Sens down Yotes 4-3 in OT; Spezza Spurs Sens to Success

By Luke Peristy

This past weekend, the Senators celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving the same way we all do: with lethargy and general laziness. While the rest was good for the players' body and soul (I hope it was good for something), it was not very good for Ottawa's position in the standings as they lost the two weekend games by a combined score of 7-3. This seems pretty bad, but in reality the team looked much, much worse than the scores indicated. However, with a win over the Phoenix Coyotes, the Senators could finish the road trip with a not-entirely-catastrophic 2-2-2 record before returning to the welcoming bosom of Palladium Tire Place.

After only featuring in the weekend games for only as long as it took to remind Robin Lehner that he's still the backup, Craig Anderson got the start in goal. In addition, Matt Kassian was inserted into the lineup in place of Stephane Da Costa because the best players play.

Phoenix countered by starting Mike Smith in net, and performed an impressive rendition of "Don't Ya Wish Your Owner Was Rich Like Me" before the game. Shane Doan also gave a rousing speech in which he pledged that he would never leave the franchise that drafted him and made him captain. Finally, Phoenix made clear their superiority at the game of "putting the arena as far away from anything as possible." This last gesture was, frankly, a little mean-spirited. Having an inconveniently located arena is all we've got left. Let us have this, Phoenix. Let Ottawa be the "arena located in the middle of nowhere" team. Actually, I guess Winnipeg has that distinction as well, so whatever.

Anyway, onto the game.

1st Period

20:00 - Paul Maclean starts with MacArthur-Turris-Ryan on the first line; Cory Conacher is visibly annoyed that he's going to have to carry Spezza and Michalek around all night.

14:30 - The Sens put tremendous pressure on Mike Smith but can't score; Phoenix appears shocked to not be ahead, as their morning film study indicated that they should be up by two goals by now.

14:00 - Kyle Turris goes to the box after Shane Doan pushes him into Smith. Looks like Turris is stepping up into that "weakly interfere with the goalie" role that Nick Foligno used to fill. The Sens kill off the penalty without giving up a shot. Given Craig Anderson's PK save percentage, this is probably the only way for Ottawa to not give up a goal on the penalty kill.

7:00 - MacArthur-Turris-Ryan have an epic shift, but still can't score; I note that this line has palpable chemistry in the sense that they do not exude failure and sadness.

4:22 - Denis Potvin announces the Senators are outshooting the Coyotes 9 to 2; Robin Lehner mutters something about Anderson being "well rested" and "getting the easy game".

2:47 - Turris takes another penalty after Shane Doan sells a holding call; reports that Shane Doan was one of the refs tonight are unverified.

1:02 - A crazy sequence of events as Spezza breaks in on a shorthanded 3-on-2 and throws a puck on net after which Milan Michalek runs over Mike Smith. "If I keep doing this, does our line get Bobby back?" asks Michalek upon returning to the bench.

1st Period Impressions: After some slow starts in the last three games, Ottawa came out determined not to let it happen again. They outshot Phoenix 14-4 over the course of the period and looked improved in all facets of the game (except faceoffs, he said ominously). It's possible that Phoenix is not as good at hockey as San Jose or Anaheim, so that may also be a contributing factor.

2nd Period

18:52 - Rob Klinkhammer scores after a scramble off of a face-off in the Ottawa zone; somewhere in upstate New York, Jim O'Brien realizes "it gets better". 1-0 Phoenix

17:25 - Radim Vrbata scores after another loose face-off in the defensive zone by Ottawa; Robin Lehner starts to skate onto the ice, but Maclean sends out Neil, Smith, and Kassian to restrain him. 2-0 Phoenix

11:18 - Spezza scores on a scramble in front of the Coyotes net. Driving to the net and getting to those dirty areas is just the sort of gritty play one would expect from a second line centre, so good for him. 2-1 Phoenix

8:19 - Cory Conacher goes down after a high stick from Boedker. However the refs decline to call a penalty. As Conacher goes off the ice bleeding, the refs explain to Paul Maclean that it's too late, and they can't call a penalty on something they didn't see happen.

7:46 - Boedker goes to the box on an interference call. "This is entirely unrelated to what just happened to Cory Conacher's face. I don't even know why you would suggest that.", says the ref over the PA system.

6:13 - Kyle Turris has another glorious chance, but is stoned by Smith yet again. "Mike, in Ottawa it's customary to let the returning player score. Just ask Joe Corvo. Besides, we gave Rob one, so how about a little quid pro quo?" says Turris to Smith. His pleas are ignored because Mike Smith doesn't understand Latin.

2nd Period Impressions: A much more even period ended with Phoenix ahead 2-1 after they took better advantage of their opportunities. Mike Smith is singlehandedly keeping Phoenix ahead, as Ottawa's had some great chances. Sens will have to limit mistakes and open that expired can of Pesky they just found in Chris Neil's equipment bag to have a chance of coming back in this one.

3rd Period

18:10 - Mike Smith finally errs by nearly playing the puck in The Forbidden Zone. Greening takes the puck on the forecheck and feeds Jason Spezza who scores into the empty net. "Victory by default is my favourite kind..." quips Spezza as he fires the puck home. 2-2 Tie

12:40 - Jason Spezza completes his hat trick on the powerplay. I describe the goal as a "Half-clapper, top cheese from the top of the circle." See, you can totally tell I've played hockey before. I know about these things... 3-2 Ottawa

8:15 - Phoenix pours on the pressure to try to tie the game, but Anderson keeps the puck out like it's Ray Emery at 3 AM during a post-game bender.

5:23 - Jean-Gabriel Pageau inadvertently springs Keith Yandle on a break into the Ottawa zone, but it's broken up just in time by Chris Phillips. Classic Chris Phillips: strong, steady, not making mistakes.

4:56 - Chris Phillips takes an interference penalty.

3:30 - An Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot is tipped past Anderson and into the net. Colin Greening is noted to have been summarizing Proust's famous À la recherche du temps perdu on the play, whereas he should have been covering the point. 3-3 Tie


3:27 - Jason Spezza performs a special encore performance of his hit, "Turnover at the blue line in overtime". Unfortunately, Craig Anderson forgets how that one goes and the Coyotes fail to score.

2:12 - Cory Conacher buries a beauty feed from Marc Methot. A single tear falls down Erik Karlsson's cheek as he realizes his defensive partner is growing up.  4-3 Ottawa Wins!

Closing Thoughts

The best and worst of the Ottawa Senators were fully on display tonight. Strong effort and good play with the puck was undermined by loose defensive play and ill-timed penalties, or as they are more commonly known, "penalties". Ottawa's inability to win face-offs also remains a problem. However, Ottawa still did juuuuuust enough to leave Phoenix with the 2 points, and I don't think anyone can be too disappointed about going .500 on a tough western road trip. MacArthur-Turris-Ryan and Michalek-Spezza-Conacher look more like lines 1A and 1B rather than lines 1 and 2, and it's clear there's a lot of potential there.

In conclusion, I'd just like to say from myself and Mika Zibanejad, see you at the home opener, folks!
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