Few NHL goaltending coaches would recommend their charges try and make saves from the seat of their pants - perhaps Brian Elliott will be able to teach the proper technique once his playing days are over.
Elliott notched his second shutout in as many days as the Ottawa Senators disposed of the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 last night, with the stop of the night a spectacular third-period glove save on James van Riemsdyk while Elliott was parked on his rear end. (After a lengthy review, officials decided the puck had not entered the net moments before with Sens defenceman Anton Volchenkov standing in on the goal line for the down-and-out Elliott.)
It has to be said Elliott benefited from some woeful Philly finishing - Simon Gagné whistled a puck high after the Ottawa netminder tripped on a strap and fell on his keister in the second period - but his play was once again the difference for the Senators.
Crossed in a hallway after his Sens dusted off the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 last Monday, Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray admitted his fading NHL team needed at least one victory in their back-to-back tilts against conference rivals.
It now has two.
Ottawa solidified its grip on fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and while Philadelphia remains in a tie for sixth with Montreal, there will be plenty of nervous glancing over their shoulder - the Flyers have lost three in a row.
Trying to maintain a playoff spot without your starting goalie or his backup is tough enough, doing it without your top goal scorer increases the degree of difficulty substantially, as the Flyers can attest.
By rights, the Senators should have been ripe for the picking, playing the second of back-to-back games, and their third in four nights. And yet. …
The Flyers, shorn of top goal scorer Jeff Carter (foot) and backstopped by journeyman goaltender Brian Boucher (record this season: 5-15-2), couldn't compete. They survived a seven-minute Ottawa power play in the third period - just as the Sens killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 in the second - but could not find a way past Elliott.
The teams combined to go 0-for-13 on the man-advantage (Ottawa was 0-for-7).
Despite wasting three early power-play opportunities, the Senators hit the scoresheet first midway through the opening period.
After a smart breakout pass from Jesse Winchester, Ottawa pest Jarkko Ruutu avoided a check and dished a pass that sprang Chris Kelly and defenceman Andy Sutton on a 2-on-1. Kelly outwaited Boucher and snapped a shot high on the short side for his 14th of the season.
Daniel Alfredsson doubled the lead just 18 seconds into the third, chipping a rebound past Boucher.
While the Senators were celebrating, Gagné, furious after going heavily into the boards on a hit from behind moments earlier, made a beeline for Volchenkov to exact revenge.
He got a double-minor for instigating while wearing a visor, five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct; Volchenkov got a roughing penalty.
It was one of a few spurts of nastiness, but for long stretches, the game mirrored Ottawa's previous encounter with Montreal, as only the Senators seemed to be playing with any pep.
It was also the type of game that left several players shaking their heads at their profligacy in front of the net. In one case, Ottawa forward Alexei Kovalev looked quizzically at his stick blade after whiffing on a one-timer at the side of the net in the first period. (He also fanned on another one-time chance in the second, and clearly needs to seek out a new stick maker.)
Senators defenceman Chris Phillips also took a quick glance at his stick after fluffing a simple pass in the second.Report Typo/Error