Sens beat Caps despite goaltending

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:33 PM ET

Four days later, it looked like the Senators were holding another skills competition at Scotiabank Place.

It started with Jason Spezza — en route to one more goal on his wild spree — stepping around Alexander Semin like he was a leftover pylon. Then Spezza winning a draw as clean as could be before Milan Michalek showed off his quick release in the accurate shot contest.

Then Daniel Alfredsson, for the second time in eight days, showing off his soccer talents by controlling a difficult pass with his feet before snipping the bottom corner. And in the third, Chris Phillips and Alex Kovalev battling it out for the hardest shot title.

Meanwhile, exposed around the Ottawa goals was what should be a concern at the other end of the rink.

Twice, Brian Elliott did his impression of the Shooter Tutor. He looked bad when Tomas Fleischmann beat him with a short-side shot for the Caps’ first goal. And he looked bad when Jeff Schultz put a slow-moving wrist shot by him on the second.

When Semin whipped two wrist shots past Elliott’s catching mitt within 43 seconds, someone in the pressbox said the Senators’ current No. 1 goalie had a weak glove hand on this night. It was pointed out that the first two goals were on the stick side.

Like the Shooter Tutor, however, Elliott was perfect on all shots in the middle.

Both Elliott and backup Pascal Leclaire have played well enough at times this season. In fact, Elliott made a great glove arm stop off Semin seconds before he completed his hat trick with another wrister from the top of the right-wing circle.

But is it just me, or have Elliott and Leclaire surrendered more weak goals than any other tandem in team history?

It says here the Senators’ best skill against the Caps was a team effort. They managed to win despite their goaltending.

Things I think I think

Anton Volchenkov had a good week Thursday night. What else would you call 11 blocked shots in one game? ... Spezza, a former think-pass-first guy, is piling up numbers a starting pitcher on his beloved Blue Jays would covet. In his last 11 games, he’s 11-4 (goals-assists) ... The injury-prone Leclaire appeared to hurt his knee while stepping on a puck behind the net during the morning skate. Honest ... It would have been a more exciting finish that fans hurrying home missed had Chris Kelly been called for icing with less than a half-minute left. Apparently, the linesman thought Mike Green could have caught up to the puck had he been skating at regular speed, a decision Caps coach Bruce Boudreau obviously disagreed with. Later, Kelly made out that he tried to bank the shot off the boards and into the empty net. “Guess I’m not much of a curler,” he said, joking that he was yelling at the puck to “hurry, hurry hard.”

Can’t Laich this

Remember, there are dangers to dealing a prospect for a star player. At the 2004 trade deadline, then-Senators GM John Muckler acquired sniper Peter Bondra for a player

in the minors and a second-round pick. Bondra scored five goals and nine assists in 23 regular-season games, then drew blanks in seven playoff contests. The prospect, Brooks Laich,

has 20 goals already this season for the Caps.

Great Gabby

Cory Clouston and Boudreau have things in common. They have only one initial for both their names and they both deserve credit for turning around franchises that were floundering. But while Clouston appears to have little use for the media, the man they call “Gabby” could chat with reporters all day. “(The Senators) seemed in disarray,” Boudreau said of the 5-2 beating his team gave them Jan. 7. “If we lose, I’m going skating in Central Park. That’s all I know. Soon as they did that, they won 11 in a row.” Boudreau also threw a bouquet the Ottawa owner’s way. “This may sound really silly, but when Eugene Melnyk came out and said they’re not only a playoff team, but they’re going to go deep into the playoffs, it seemed to give them a whole lot of confidence ... They’ve played great ever since.”


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