OTTAWA – Nothing heals quite like a win streak.
Erik Karlsson and the Ottawa Senators felt good after their 3-1 defeat of the Washington Capitals on Monday, their first back-to-back victory in 51 days and their first three-game winning streak at the Canadian Tire Centre this season.
“It feels really good I think,” said Karlsson, who was on the ice for nearly 30 minutes. “We really wanted to win this game and they came out pretty hard in the first and had us at the backs for a while, but I think we stuck to it and we were confident that if we just did the things we needed to do we would come out successful.”
Once again the Senators gave up the first goal, but a couple of highlight-reel goals and strong goaltending was enough to earn the victory.
Craig Anderson, now riding a three-game winning streak, was at his best on this night stopping 34 shots.
“We battled all night,” said Anderson. “We made some mistakes, but it’s what happened after that. We battled hard; we back-checked hard; we found ways to keep guys from getting to the net. That’s the difference in the game.
“I liked our fight and I liked our work ethic and that went a long way to getting us two points.”
Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad and Clarke MacArthur, with an empty-net goal, scored for Ottawa (17-18-7).
Joel Ward scored the lone goal for the Capitals (20-15-5), who have now lost back-to-back games. Phillip Grubauer, making his fourth straight start, faced 38 shots.
Ottawa took a 2-1 lead on Turris’s tenth goal of the season. He cut through the Washington defence and deked Grubauer for a wide open left side, leaving the 20,193 on hand stunned.
“I knew I got hooked, but I think it helped me fake the goalie out,” said Turris. “I don’t think (Grubauer) thought I would be able to get it to my forehand so it kind of faked him at the same time delaying it.”
Anderson was solid stopping all 14 shots he faced in the second as the Capitals did all they could to tie things up.
Ottawa held on to its 2-1 lead with solid play in the third period. With just over two minutes remaining Anderson made a great glove save on Eric Fehr to preserve the lead.
“We had great chances to score goals, but we didn’t,” said Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, who is now pointless in his last four games. “We hit crossbars, posts and he makes a good save and of course when you make a goalie hot he’s going to play hot.”
This was easily one of Anderson’s better performances of the season, but he was quick to point out the play of his teammates as a factor in his success.
Anderson talked about the team’s penalty kill, shot blocking and play along the boards as keys to the victory.
“It’s stuff that doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet like goals and assists do,” said Anderson. “It’s those little things that make a difference in a game and a lot of people don’t realize that, but we definitely recognize it in the room here.”
MacArthur added an empty-net goal with 34 seconds remaining after Erik Karlsson gave him the wide open net to put an end to a 10-game scoring drought.
“I saw he was there and he hasn’t scored in a couple games so I knew it was the right thing to do,” said Karlsson of the passing play.
The Senators got off to a rough start in the first period as Ward opened the scoring on Washington’s second shot of the game 2:11 into the game. Ward put a shot on net and—unfortunately for Anderson—the puck went off the goaltender’s stick and in.
It was the only downside to an otherwise outstanding performance by Anderson.
Ottawa lost Chris Neil midway through the first after a collision with Ovechkin. The play looked innocent enough, but left Neil with a lower body injury.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean said the injury appears to be something more serious than day-to-day, but Neil will need to undergo further evaluation before a timeline can be set.
Ovechkin felt he took the worst of the collision and feels the league should review the incident. He was disappointed that nothing was called on the play.
“I think four guys out there didn’t do their job. I think they started celebrating New Year’s too early, right before the game,” said Ovechkin. “They didn’t see headshots on Neil against me.
“I felt like he going to hit me shoulder to shoulder. I was ready for it, but he hit right in my head, right in chin.
Ottawa tied the game 1-1 at the 13-minute mark of the first as Zibanejad and Cory Conacher put together a passing play. The two broke in on a 2-on-1 and had a give-and-go before Zibanejad had the easy tap in.
Zibanejad has played at centre as Jason Spezza has been sidelined the last two games with a lower body injury and the 20-year-old is making the most of the opportunity.
“Mika has come in and played centre and given us some big minutes and played very well,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean.
Notes: C Jason Spezza and D Chris Phillips missed a second straight game with a lower body injury. D Eric Gryba was a healthy scratch for the Senators.…The Capitals continue to deal with trade demands from a number of players, including goalie Michal Neuvirth who was a healthy scratch. C Brooks Laich missed his third straight game with a strained groin. D Alexander Urbom was a healthy scratch.