Senators Cap it late
Centre misses game against Capitals due to mysterious ‘upper body’ injury
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.