ST. JOHN'S - Alex Auld didn’t make it to the end of the Kraft Hockeyville game — a finish that left some of the Senators angry.
The Senators goaltender left after two periods in what turned out to be a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Mile One Centre with muscle cramping.
There weren’t any kinks in his sense of humour.
“It’s too bad. I was feeling good and was looking forward to playing a full game,” said Auld. “It probably wasn’t worth the risk ... one reason I didn’t feel too bad about coming out is I felt like I got a game’s worth in 40 minutes. There was a lot of action, but it was good. The first couple of games, I didn’t see a lot of shots.”
The game wound up being pretty chippy at times.
It ended with Ottawa’s Zack Smith scrapping with Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd. Both Ladd and Winnipeg’s Johnny Oduya were given double minors for spearing as time ran out, which didn’t sit well with abrasive winger Chris Neil.
“Hopefully they review it and crack down on that because it was an intentional spear,” said Neil of Ladd’s jab. “We don’t want that kind of stuff in the game.”
Neil said he hoped the Senators will come out better Tuesday night when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s tough to play from behind every night if you’re down by a couple of goals,” said Neil. “Hopefully tomorrow we come out with a better start at home. You can’t just expect to turn it on in the second and third period and win. If it wasn’t for Auld, the score could have been run right up. He kept the team in the game.”
The Jets were all over the Senators for those first 40 minutes, getting goals from rookie Mark Schiefele and Troy Bodie as they outshot the Senators 28-11.
Another slow start for the Senators, huh?
But rookie Mika Zibanejad scored a dandy goal on the power play at 5:45 to make a game of it before Winnipeg’s Ben Maxwell put it out of reach eight minutes later.
By the looks of it, Zibanejad will start the regular season with the Senators. They’ll have up to nine games to see how he does against full NHL lineups before deciding to keep him or send him back to Sweden to play in the elite league. The Senators will make roster moves Tuesday, breaking into their NHL group — about 27 players — and one bound for Binghamton of the AHL.
Zibanejad had a thrill Monday — getting a chance to play with captain Daniel Alfredsson.
“I look up to him since I was a kid so it’s like a dream coming true, for sure,” said Zibanejad. “It went better and better. I think the third period was our best.”
One big thing Zibanejad has going for him is he doesn’t need a GPS to find his own zone like a lot of kids his age do. He also knows what to do when he gets there, which is impressive. He made a couple of nice backchecks to break up scoring opportunities Monday night.
“I thought Mika played fine tonight,” said Senators coach MacLean. “He’s trying to show us he’s ready to play in the National Hockey League.”