Game Summary - Game 50: Senators @ Capitals - Inspector Zack Smith vs. Dr. Claw
by Chet Sellers
"Don't look back; you can never look back." Don Henley wrote that, and it's as true now as the day I tattooed it across my shoulder blades. So sometimes the only thing you can do after a couple of tough home losses is grab your Eagles tapes, hit the road, and put everything behind you. And what better way to do that than head to Washington and play a team you haven't lost to since 2011?
That's right, the Senators begin another road trip tonight against the Washington Capitals, a team they'd beaten six times in a row coming into this game. Even so, tonight's game almost didn't happen, as Washington has been hit by a blizzard of "average Tuesday in Ottawa" proportions. In fact, several Senators were heard to remark that today's inclement weather actually made them feel more at home. "Yes, just like home," Bobby Ryan was heard to remark, quietly.
Also, some lineup notes coming at you - Mar(c)(k)s Methot and Stone are both out, which means Binghamton call-up Stephane Da Costa and "Oh Yeah, That Guy!" Patrick Wiercioch will draw into the lineup. And for the Capitals, what about Alexander Ovechkin? More like Out-vechkin, because he's got a lower-body injury! Does that mean everything's coming up Ottawa tonight? Let's find out!
It looks like nobody told these teams they were playing inside tonight, because this game starts with both teams exhibiting the kind of coordination you'd expect from a game of hockey played in six inches of snow. The Senators win the possession battle early on, but the best they can do is fire a series of shots wide of Washington's net with about as much puck control as you'd expect to get if you were using an actual snow shovel.
Spoiler alert: nobody scores in the first period. Rather, play is characterized by a lot of discombobulated, back-and-forth rushes off of turnovers, missed shots, questionable Senators penalties, and, surprisingly, massive Erik Karlsson open-ice hits. The biggest is one that Karlsson levels against Mikhail Grabovski near the end of the period; as Grabovski picks himself up, Karlsson can be seen whispering to him, "You may have a new deal. You may play for a new team that respects your considerable skills. But you will always be a Leaf. You will ALWAYS be a Leaf." It's like there's just something about Washington that brings out Karlsson's aggressive side.
You can't spell "sloppy" without "PP", and that's the story of the first half of the second period, as the Senators can't get anything done with the man advantage and neither team can get anything done with the man equivalency. Thirteen minutes into the second, the game is starting to look like a 0-0 soccer match played by eight-year-olds when Kyle Turris finally opens things up by rushing through two Capitals and putting a wrist shot five-hole through Braden Holtby. It's sweet revenge for Turris, who took a Martin Erat stick in the ear earlier in the period."Where's my EAR-AT now, Martin?" Turris asks, gesturing toward the scoreboard. 1-0 Senators.
Even though they're playing with an insurmountable 1-0 margin in the third period of a hockey game, the Senators decide to try something a little different tonight and elect not to spend the period completely back on their heels trying to protect a lead. This strategy pays off nine minutes into the period when Jason Spezza fires a bullet from the left face-off dot and beats Holtby to make it 2-0 Senators. Then things get a little weird.
|"I felt like destroying something beautiful," said Grabovski.|
Within a minute Zack Smith and Mikhail Grabovski start scuffling, leading to the Grabovski claw move shown above. If you can read lips, you can see that Smith then says, "Who are you, Buffalo Bill?" with Grabovski's subsequent confusion indicating he's clearly never seen Silence of the Lambs. As the two continue to jaw at each other from their respective penalty boxes, Smith can't believe it. "Seriously?" he asks. "It was Best Picture. You know, Anthony Hopkins? Jodie Foster? Nothing?"
After this fracas it's all over but the crying, with a few solid Craig Anderson saves thrown in to seal it. 2-0 Senators is your final, and Anderson is first star of the game on the basis of a 34-shot shutout. Despite a slow first 30 minutes, the Senators look to be back on track after their two losses at home last week, and will try to continue their road dog heroics Thursday night in Tampa. Can they keep it up? Is Anderson back on track? Will anyone else get their face clawed? Tune in and find out!