April 4, 2017, 9:44 AM ET [34 Comments]
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He took a private jet, but Erik Karlsson might as well have put on a cape and flown to Detroit. Listed as "highly unlikely", the Senators captain skated in Ottawa Monday morning and proclaimed himself fit enough to jump on a plane and surprise his teammates and Senators fans by arriving after 5:00 pm and joining the lineup in a crucial game.
All he did was score a goal and add an assist as the Senators earned a vital point in the playoff seeding race, and with a little bit of luck it could have easily been 2 points, but at this moment the point Senators will take the point and run with it.
Karlsson's arrival kicked off what was an exciting game, filled with momentum swings, terrrible goals and one of the more exciting overtime periods imaginable. Craig Anderson got the start, and nobody allows more goals from behind the net than the Senators goalie, and that was in full effect in Detroit as the first two Detroit goals went in from below the goal line. Anderson could easily have been wearing the goat horns, but he settled down and kept his team in the game.
Ottawa fought back on three separate occasions, twice erasing a one-goal deficit and then overcoming a two goal hole to earn the point. Kyle Turris had a goal and two assists, including a key response 22 seconds after Detroit had taken the two goal lead after a pair of power play goals had seemingly broken open a 2-2 tie in the first half of the third period. Freddie Claesson's blast to tie it up made for a tumultuous final seven minutes where Anderson and Petr Mrazek were good in earning their respective teams a point in a game where both netminders had shaky moments.
Ottawa had two clear breakaways in overtime with a chance to get a huge second point, but both Karlsson and Mike Hoffman were turned away, while Anderson also made a couple of incredible saves to keep his team in contention. The shootout lasted eight rounds, with the lone marksman to light the lamp being Evgeny Svechnikov, making his NHL debut and he got the winner.
Colin White was thrown into the fire in his own NHL debut, being sent over the boards too try and extend the game after Svechnikov scored, but he was unable to beat Mrazek. It was a questionable time to send out the kid, as it might have been better served to send him in one of the prior shots where a miss would have simply meant another round as opposed to a miss costing them the game. The Senators had 4 chances to seal the game but Alex Burrows, Tom Pyatt, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman all missed their chances to be the hero with the game on the line following Detroit misses.
While the Senators got Karlsson back, they might have lost another body as Bobby Ryan left the game with about 11 minutes left in the third and did not return.
It will be a huge night in the playoff race as the Senators moved past the Boston Bruins back into third spot in the Atlantic (by virtue of holding a game in hand), while the two teams that are chasing them (Boston and Tampa Bay) face each other in Beantown while the Maple Leafs, who won in Buffalo to move a point up on the Senators Monday night, host the league leading Capitals. Finally, the Senators will host the Wings in the second half of their back to back, and will be looking to capture a huge two points in their penultimate home game of the season.
If they can come away with two points, and Tampa-Boston can avoid a three-point game there will be a huge sigh of relief. That is a big IF, and the Senators nabbing the two points is crucial regardless of the outcome of the other games that are not in their control.
The biggest question facing Guy Boucher is who to start in goal. Does he come back with a sometimes shaky Anderson in back to back games, or turn to Mike Condon, who has been solid for the most part but lost his last start, giving up 3 goals to the Jets on Saturday? It is a big decision, with perhaps the season hanging in the balance depending on what happens elsewhere. The Senators control their own destiny, and with a massive game against the Bruins on the horizon Thursday, I would have no problem going with Condon tonight with Thursdays starting assignment dependent on how he plays tonight. At this point you have to go with the hot hand, and Anderson wasn't sharp enough against Detroit in a game where he got some goal support. He did bounce back after giving up a couple of terrible goals, but his team bailed him out as much as he did to garner the team a point.