Hoping to rebound after a very disappointing showcasing of hockey in last nights defeat to the Hudson River rivals, New Jersey would conclude a back-to-back set of games with a visit to Canada's capital to play the Ottawa Senators. This game in my eyes, is even more of a crucial game than last night's. I believe last night was a statement game, just to put the Rangers and their fanbase to rest where as tonight's matchup has a larger lasting effect on BOTH New Jersey and Ottawa in regards to points and playoff positioning. As a reminder, tonight's SpotLight Player of the Game was Johan Hedberg, featured in this afternoon's new pre-game segment, SpotLight.
Seems to be a re-occuring theme now for New Jersey... scoreless first periods. A game that kicked off fast would end in nearly the same fashion. Senator captain Daniel Alfredsson would get sent to the box for a two minute minor on an interference call just under a minute into the period. Alfy's penalty was then killed off by the Sens. A couple of big saves would follow up by both Hedberg and Bishop who were consistantly spot on throughout the duration of the period, as well as the game. With exactly six minutes left, Anton Volchenkov would be called for a trip on the breakaway opportunity for Ottawa's Erik Condra leading to the penalty shot. On the attempt, it'd be Moose standing tall with what looked to be one of his easier saves of the evening after selling the five-hole and shutting it down, plain and simple. New Jersey would be out shout by 6, 15-9 going 0-1 on the powerplay in the 1st period.
Something's gotta give, and in due time, it sure as hell did. A goal wouldnt be scored by the visitors until the closing minuets of another fast paced period of hockey. As in the first, goalies would be nearly flawless. Stop after stop after stop made by Moose and 6 foot 7 inch tall Ben Bishop. New Jersey would stave off a powerplay opportunity brought upon themselves after Bernier got the call for hi-sticking when he accidentally whacked Sens netminder Bishop in the face just under the mask early in the period. Once teams got back to even strength, the game would go back to its free wheeling style which was the occuring theme throughout the game. A late penalty with just under 5 minutes left for Ottawa's Zenon Konopka would be the one blemish on Bishop's evening, leading to a goal, a milestone goal scored by Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovy's goal on the powerplay was his 31st of the season with 8 more games to play, but on a much larger scale, it was his 400th of his career. The goal by Kovalchuk was assisted by Marek Zidlicky and Patrik Elias on the powerplay at 17:20. The second period would end with a New Jersey Devils lead heading into the 3rd period, a rare site in games of late.
In a very "vocal" period by the Senators' fans in regards to the referee's, a handful of penalties would be called, two a piece for each team in the 3rd and DEFINITELY a boatload of missed calls going both ways. For those of you watching the game, you make the call; in my eyes, Ottawa should have had AT LEAST three more powerplay opportunities in the closing period. Penalties were assessed, in order to:
Ben Bishop (served by Kyle Turris)- 4:26- Delay of Game
Zack Smith- 10:29- Boarding
David Clarkson- 16:22- Slashing
Ryan Carter- 17:57- Too Many Men on Ice
All the penalties were killed off, resulting in an o-fer night for the Sens wrapping up the evening 0-3 on the man advantage, including a 5 on 3 opportunity at one point. Ottawa would eventually pull their goalie getting the extra attacker on the ice for a 6 on 4 scramble which would eventually be shut down by Hedberg leading to the 1-0 shut out victory for New Jersey.
The Devils victory tonight places them comfortably 5 points over 7th seeded Ottawa, 9 points over 8th placed Washington, and 11 points over 9th place Buffalo. New Jersey has 8 games remaining on the schedule, their next game Friday at home against the Maple Leafs. Earlier today, we here at Running With The Devils opened up a new pre-game segment called SpotLight in which I put the SpotLight on Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg. The Moose was stellar like I had predicted recording 34 saves on 34 shots faced, one of which was a penalty shot early in the first period. Hedberg killed off all 3 Ottawa powerplays pushing aside 15 shots in the first period playing in all 60 minutes being named the 1st Star of the Game.
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