The Ottawa Senators took care of business against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday by a score of 4-2 in the 2014 NHL Heritage Classic.
After falling into a 2-0 hole, Ottawa came charging back to score four unanswered goals, as the NHL on Twitter highlighted:
The contest was supposed to be another outdoors event—the final of six such contests this season on the NHL schedule.
“You can’t help but enjoy a situation like this,” said Canucks manager John Tortorella about playing hockey in a domed football stadium, per David Ebner of The Globe and Mail.
Unfortunately, rain forced event coordinators to close the dome at B.C. Place Stadium, which took a bit of the novelty out of the day's action.
Nevertheless, the teams came out and played inspired hockey for three periods to give fans a thrilling experience.
The Canucks appeared to have Ottawa's number early on, scoring two goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead.
Not even five minutes had passed in the game before Jason Garrison put Vancouver up by one on a power-play goal.
Then Zack Kassian followed that up with a gorgeous unassisted goal later in the period on a breakaway after a bad turnover by Erik Karlsson, as Adam Kimelman of NHL.com pointed out:
bad turnover by Erik Karlsson under pressure in right corner in @Senators end, Zack Kassian grabs it and beats Anderson with low shot— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) March 2, 2014
All the momentum appeared to be in Vancouver's favor, but as it so often happens on the ice, momentum quickly turned.
Ottawa struck back with two quick goals before the first period came to a close, capping off an exciting and action-packed opening stanza.
Clarke MacArthur scored Ottawa's first goal of the game with just under five minutes remaining in the first period, and then Erik Karlsson tied it up less than two minutes later. After such a hot start by both teams, it appeared the scoring was getting out of hand:
The offensive explosion simmered down considerably after the opening period, however—especially for the Canucks, who didn't score the rest of the way.
Cody Ceci gave the Senators a one-goal lead in the second period, and then Colin Greening finished off the contest with an empty-net score late in the third period, as the Ottawa Senators described:
Smith springs Neil and Greening on the 2-on-1 with a chip & the Green Machine puts it right into the empty cage. 4-2 at the #HeritageClassic— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 2, 2014
After being smothered for the first portion of the contest, Ottawa's offense came alive with a vengeance in the final portion of the game. Vancouver couldn't match the level of execution and intensity, and the final score speaks for itself.
Clarke MacArthur, Left Wing, Ottawa: A
MacArthur wasn't on the ice as much as many of his teammates, but he made every second count.
Scoring a goal and pitching in with an assist, he was extremely active attacking Vancouver's defense, and his effort in the first period was the catalyst for Ottawa's tremendous turnaround.
Zack Kassian, Right Wing, Vancouver: B
Kassian was the beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time when he scored his team's second goal of the game, but his shot was a beauty, too. He was also one of the only Canucks players who managed to finish the contest with a plus-one during his time on the ice.
Craig Anderson, Goalie, Ottawa, B+
After being blasted early with two quick goals, Craig Anderson needed some help from his teammates. Brian Stubits of CBS Sports discussed that factor: "Craig Anderson didn't get a ton of help in the opening minutes on the Canucks' two early goals but when the team in front of him settled in, so did he."
Anderson and pulled himself together nicely to shut out the Canucks for the remainder of the contest. All told, he stopped 29 of 31 shots on goal, which comes out to a 93.5 percent shot-stopping mark.
Both teams now have one day off to regroup before they attack their next opponent. The Senators have a road contest against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, while the Canucks will travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes.
Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives at this point in the season and are currently on the outside looking in on the wild-card races in the Eastern and Western Conferences.
There is no rest for the weary at this point in the proceedings. Every victory is cherished, and every defeat is a bitter blow. The only thing that is certain is the final push toward the playoffs will provide fans with plenty of drama the rest of the way.
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