Smith sweats out Sens win

Ottawa Senators' Zack Smith, left, celebrates the game-winning goal with Kaspars Daugavins, right,...

Ottawa Senators' Zack Smith, left, celebrates the game-winning goal with Kaspars Daugavins, right, while Carolina Hurricanes' goalie Cam Ward looks on during the third period of NHL hockey action Sunday November 27, 2011. (Darren Brown/QMI Agency)

Don Brennan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 PM ET

For Zack Smith, it was an uncomfortable 104 seconds.

The questionable high-sticking penalty he was given in the second-last minute of play -- with his team clinging on to a 4-3 lead -- could have been damaging. Especially so with the Senators' best 'killer' in the box.

But the one-goal victory was secured when Jesse Winchester dove to tip the puck out over the blue line with three seconds left.

"It could have been the boner of the night," said Smith, whose goal at 12:35 of third would stand as the winner against the Carolina Hurricanes. "It was pretty nerve-wracking to be in that position, but the way our penalty kills went (Sunday), it was outstanding. It was a nervous time, but I had faith in the guys."

The Senators did survive 7-of-8 short-handed situations to get back in the winning mode. Smith saw a whopping 8:27 of ice time with his team at a man disadvantage, second most to Filip Kuba's 8:32.

Ottawa had half the number of power-play opportunities, leaving players to wonder about some of the referee calls for a second game in a row.

"I don't know what the rule is ... it's a follow through....I don't know how you can intentionally high stick a guy when my back is to him," said Smith. "I got high-sticked earlier in the third period, too. The exact same play, I was going to the net, and no call.

"I don't think we agreed on a few of their calls. The penalties were 11-6 and we had control of the puck as much as they did. I don't know what the deal was."

Sometimes it really is tough to tell.

STARTS AND STOPS

If Nikita Filatov skates and competes like he did in his first game back from the minors, he will never see Binghamton again. The question is, how long will he decide to keep up that effort level? "It's still a dream and still a hope to make it and stay here forever and play good for the team," said Filatov, who arrived in Ottawa Sunday morning after playing three games in the three previous nights. "I felt pretty good out there. I felt I did some good things. I feel bad about the (hooking) penalty, but I think it's just a bad call." .... See David Rundblad's first NHL goal? Cam Ward didn't. As the puck was entering the net, all the Carolina goalie could see was Zenon Konopka's butt. It was a huge one -- the goal, that is -- as it put the Senators up by two heading into the third ... Erik Karlsson would have had his third assist of the game -- and league-leading 21st of the season -- if Milan Michalek's shot off a breakaway richochetted off the post differently after he had accepted a great pass from the Swede.

STUFF I THINK I THUNK

Does it just seem like every time it's pointed out in the media that Jason Spezza is in a slump, he ends it promptly? It took him just 55 seconds to end an 11-game slide with a strong solo effort ... After so many big saves, Craig Anderson was beaten on the 14th Hurricanes shot. It was a strong offering by Patrick Dwyer, but also one Anderson should have stopped ... Anderson's best save of the season so far was the snag of a Jeff Skinner shot just past the midway mark ... Since they already lead the league in short-handed goals, Smith tried to pull the 'Canes into a tie for most short-handed goals against with a hustling effort on the penalty kill in the second. A good save by Ward kept the 'Canes from being five in both categories.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Rundblad had three shots blocked on one first-period shift and then, just as he was about to pass the puck along the 'Canes blue line seconds before the intermission, he clearly heard the fans shout "shooooot." So he did, and yup, it was blocked ... Jesse Winchester fired a shot just wide of the Carolina net a second after the whistle had gone. Knowing there would be objections, he immediately threw a right at the closest 'Cane, Chad LaRose. Surely Winchester was given a misconduct for more than simply beating a guy to the punch ... Colin Greening got in his first NHL fight in the opening period (with former 67's captain Derek Joslin) and went looking for another in the third when he frowned upon Alex Ponikarovky ramming Daniel Alfredsson into the boards from behind. Against Joslin, Greening had great form. If a guy like Chris Neil could teach him how to throw and take a punch, the strong-as-an-ox Newfie might just become a top heavyweight ... The closest Filatov came to scoring was off a 2-on-1 in the second period, which ended with him being stoned by Ward.

CAN YOU SAY HMMM..?:

Canada is hockey's game, eh? Someone should remind Gary Bettman. The NHL didn't dare mess with any American's dinner plans on Thanksgiving Thursday, as not a single game was scheduled. But Sunday, there were four games, with three of them having interesting and relatively uncommon start times: One in Canada's capital at 5 p.m. and two more at 6 p.m., which also just so happened to be a half-hour before kickoff for the Grey Cup game. How insulting ... Another game, another ref who turns his back while Nick Foligno is getting abused. This time it was behind the opponent's net and just seconds before Eric Staal scored to pull Carolina to within one. The customers weren't happy ... Note to Eugene Melnyk: Along with that new videoboard you so desperately need, you might want to pick up an new wireless mike for Lyndon Slewidge.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @sundonib


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