Sen­a­tors Cap it late

Cen­tre misses game against Cap­i­tals due to mys­te­ri­ous ‘up­per body’ in­jury

Ottawa Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - KEN WAR­REN

Young Zibane­jad looks good as Ot­tawa ral­lies from a 2-0 deficit to top Washington with a late goal in third,

If the so­cial me­dia re­ports were ac­cu­rate, Ja­son Spezza was in or around Toronto Tues­day night, in the process of hav­ing his “up­per body” in­jury eval­u­ated.

He missed quite the come­back, as his Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors roared back from a two-goal deficit to de­feat the Washington Cap­i­tals 3-2.

Sergei Gon­char scored the game win­ning goal on the power play with 2:30 re­main­ing, fol­low­ing a fan­tas­tic set up from Erik Karls­son.

The Sen­a­tors could eas­ily have been done and buried half­way through the game, but they can thank goal­tender Craig An­der­son for keep­ing them alive. They can also thank Cap­i­tals goal­tender Michal Neu­virth for al­low­ing them back into the game.

The Sen­a­tors had no busi­ness be­ing close af­ter two pe­ri­ods, given how poorly they played at the start, but they ral­lied late.

Mi­lan Michalek tied the game 2-2 at the 2:20 mark of the third pe­riod. Af­ter Kyle Tur­ris pushed the puck ahead from a face­off deep in the Cap­i­tals zone, Michalek pounced on the puck and slid a back­hand past Neu­virth. It was a soft goal, but a break the Sen­a­tors needed.

The other key was the play of the fourth line. Dis­ap­pointed with the ef­fort of the other three lines, Sen­a­tors coach Paul MacLean gave ex­tra shifts to his fourth — a clear mes­sage to three in front of them — and it paid off with 1:23 left in the pe­riod.

Erik Con­dra skated through the slot and the slid the puck back to Jim O’Brien, who neatly de­flected it past Cap­i­tals goal­tender Michal Neu­virth. Mean­while, Mika Zibane­jad, who picked up an as­sist on the play, was driv­ing hard to the net, tak­ing Ja­son Chimera out of the play.

Zibane­jad, re­called from Bing­ham­ton of the Amer­i­can Hockey League on Mon­day, had a strong game — his first in the NHL since his ninegame trial at the be­gin­ning of the 2011-12 sea­son.

Given the ef­fort of some of the play­ers around him, Zibane­jad will likely re­ceive an­other look as the Sen­a­tors get right back at it Wed­nes­day ver­sus the Cana­di­ens at Sco­tia­bank Place.

The Sen­a­tors had lit­tle life through the open­ing half of the game. Dur­ing a tough two-minute stretch where the Cap­i­tals hemmed the Sen­a­tors in­side their own blue­line, the Sco­tia­bank Place crowd be­gan rain­ing boos down on the home team.

The Cap­i­tals led 20-11 on the shot clock and An­der­son was keep­ing them in the game. He flung out his left pad to rob Eric Fehr from in close, prevent­ing the Cap­i­tals from rolling out to a 3-0 lead.

Troy Brouwer and Matt Hen­dricks scored for the Cap­i­tals in the first pe­riod.

De­spite the vic­tory, there is con­cern about the ex­tent of Spezza’s in­jury.

Spezza looked fine dur­ing Sun­day’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins and scored in the shootout. The of­fi­cial word from the Sen­a­tors is that Spezza suf­fered an up­per body in­jury that was be­ing “eval­u­ated.” He was spot­ted at the Ot­tawa air­port Tues­day evening, ap­par­ently en route to Toronto.

Con­sid­er­ing his his­tory, there is spec­u­la­tion that it could be a back prob­lem.


Sen­a­tors for­ward Mi­lan Michalek, cen­tre, cel­e­brates his third-pe­riod game-ty­ing goal against the Washington Cap­i­tals with Daniel Al­freds­son and Kyle Tur­ris at Sco­tia­bank Place on Tues­day.

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