You never know what little play is going to do it.
Sometimes it winds up being nothing.
Then there's last night.
Early in the third period of what turned out to be a stunning come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals, the Senators were down by a couple and looking like it wasn’t going to be their night.
Sloppy play in their own end, turnovers ... they lost goaltender Pascal Leclaire, again, and he wasn’t even playing.
Leclaire was hit in the face with an errant puck in the second period — it looked like it hit him in the left cheek — and wasn’t back at the end of the Senators bench for the rest of the game (his status will be updated today).
But a nice little play at the Washington line by Senators defenceman Filip Kuba — it seems like everything he touches right now turns to gold — got the Senators back in the game and enabled them to extend their winning streak to a season-best four games.
Kuba dipped to a knee and cupped his hands together to keep a puck in the Caps’ zone. He then fired it at the net, where winger Chris Neil tipped it past Semyon Varlamov to cut the Caps’ lead in half at 3:18 of the third.
The Senators got some life and tied it at 7:40 on the power play the way they’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately: With winger Milan Michalek in front of the net providing a screen. This time it was a shot by Alexandre Picard that found the back of the net through the screen.
Mike Fisher got the winner at 1:14 of overtime — his sixth career overtime goal — after a great play by defenceman Chris Phillips, who took the puck away from Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and started the winning rush up ice.
Kuba picked up an assist on that goal, too, giving him a goal and six assists in his last two games.
“I’m trying to work hard and do the little things right, like keeping the puck in,” said Kuba. “Make good passes, stuff like that. Everything goes off of that.”
“It feels great,” said Fisher. “We’re feeling like we’re confident in the third. We got back to our game. We were hungry and skated well. It was a character win for us.”
It was strange, especially with Ovechkin in town, that the crowd of 16,210 was the lowest attendance number of the season.
It started out like a good night.
The Senators scored first and it was the new fourth line that got the job done. With Alex Kovalev still away after the death of his mother-in-law and Shean Donovan out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury, rookie Peter Regin and Ryan Shannon got another shot, this time with Jesse Winchester.
Shannon didn’t have much of a game Saturday, but used his speed in the Washington zone and got the puck to Winchester at the top of the right wing circle. He let go a shot and Regin, going to the net, executed a beautiful deflection to put the puck behind Varlamov before the game was eight minutes old.
The Caps got that one back on a goal by Chris Clark that required a brief video review. Clark used his foot to put a smart pass by former Senators defenceman Brian Pothier behind Ottawa goaltender Brian Elliott at 11:29.
Some shoddy work in their own zone led to the Caps taking the lead with 30 seconds left in the first period as all the Senators were caught on the same side of the ice, leaving Washington defenceman Mike Green open on the other side.
That’s not a good idea if it’s Green.
Washington’s Eric Fehr got Green the puck and then he made the type of pass you would expect from one of the best offensive defencemen in the game, right on the tape of Brendan Morrison, who had an easy redirect from the crease.
The Caps made it 3-1 on the only goal of the second period as Senators forward Jonathan Cheechoo turned the puck over in the slot and Caps rookie Jay Beagle scored his first NHL goal with a nice shot by Elliott to the stick side at 11:44.