March 2, 2012
Blackhawks dump Sens
By Aedan Helmer, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Senators fans got a rise out of Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson’s firing as the breaking news flashed across the scoreboard midway through the second period of Friday night’s game.
Unfortunately, that was about the best news the big screen had to offer as the Blackhawks took a 2-1 decision in front of 18,788 fans.
It was the ghosts of Senators past that came back to haunt Ottawa, with Ray Emery picking up his second win in his second career start against his old teammates, and another former Senators star in Marian Hossa scoring the winner.
Even former 67’s star Bryan Bickell got in on the fun in his return to the capital, scoring the game-tying goal early in the second period.
“I played here for a while and I still have some friends on the team,” said Emery, who turned aside 25 shots. “It’s special coming here. But I realized it was a huge game for our team. I forgot about that other stuff and focused on the game.”
The Senators didn’t make it easy on rookie goalie Robin Lehner in his third straight start.
Chicago outshot the Senators 34-16 through two periods, and 39-26 in the game, a margin that would have inflated further had the ’Hawks’ best chances registered as shots.
With Chicago holding a 9-1 edge in shots through the opening seven minutes of the first, Hossa fired one off the post and Patrick Kane put the rebound wide. Two breakaways, the first by Kane and the second minutes later by Viktor Stalberg, were thwarted before either could get a shot off.
“They’re a good team with lots of skilled players and obviously they were flying from the start,” said Lehner. “It’s too bad we came up short, I think we came back real good in the third and got some good chances, it just wasn’t there and now we’ve got to move forward.”
Lehner’s best sequence came early in the second period when he kicked out his pad to thwart Patrick Sharp on the backhand, then robbed him with his glove when Sharp tried the mirror image move on a penalty shot.
Lehner said he was “a little bit” surprised Sharp was awarded a penalty shot.
“He got a good piece of the puck and he got a shot away,” said Lehner.
The Blackhawks ramped up their attack from there, and the Senators had no answer.
Bickell popped home the rebound of a Sharp shot at 5:14, and Hossa gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the game on a wraparound at 9:48.
Lehner deserved an ‘A’ for effort on Hossa’s goal, with the puck skipping over Lehner’s outstretched stick and barely crossing the line before Lehner swatted it back out. Officials briefly reviewed the goal.
Matt Gilroy, who picked up his first point as a Senator on the game’s opening goal, nearly had his first tally in the third, but put a gimme two feet over a yawning cage.
Jason Spezza takes a lot of heat when his no-look passes don’t work, but when they do, it’s a thing of beauty.
Spezza extended his points streak to 11 games on the game’s opening goal, stepping around Dave Bolland at the Chicago blue line and hitting Milan Michalek in stride with a no-look pass that Michalek converted with a snap shot past Emery.
“We won most of the faceoffs, but we turned the puck over to them,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean. “I thought Kane and Hossa had their own puck on the ice and wouldn’t even let us play with it for a little while.”