You know you’ve had some big games against an opposing team in the past when its TV announcers describe you as having “almost mystical powers” against their squad.
Johan Franzen may not have equaled his five-goal outburst against the Ottawa Senators from the 2010-11 season, but he had another pretty good night at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday. Franzen found the net three times for his third career hat trick, and linemates Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco all scored to help the Detroit Red Wings crush the Sens 6-1 in Ottawa.
It was an important game for the Senators, who entered the night trailing the Red Wings by just three points for the second wild card spot in the East. Yet despite Detroit playing the night before, it was Ottawa that looked rusty, especially goalie Robin Lehner.
After Bobby Ryan had a goal disallowed for an obvious kicking motion, Sheahan opened the scoring at the 10:59 mark of the first period, exiting the penalty box and getting a gift turnover from Cody Ceci in the Ottawa zone that he turned into his fourth goal of the season. Then it was Franzen tallying twice, the first off a perfect feed between the circles from Gustav Nyquist, and the second on the power play when Daniel Alfredsson found him in the other circle. Jurco found himself right by the net with a deflected shot on his stick with two minutes left, and a shell-shocked Senators team was down 4-0 after 20 minutes.
It got worse before it got better for the hosts, with Franzen going top shelf to complete his hat trick 3:49 into the second. Ryan got one back 30 seconds later with a long shot past a screened Jonas Gustavsson, but Tatar responded 45 seconds after that, catching Lehner leaning the wrong way on a pass from Jurco from behind the net.
That was it for Lehner, who unfortunately looked to be handed a hat on the Senators bench with the number ’93’ written on it. Ottawa goalie Andrew Hammond entered and acquitted himself well in his NHL debut, stopping all 11 shots he faced the rest of the way.
The only drama remaining was between Franzen and tough guy Chris Neil, who were seen exchanging verbal pleasantries on several occasions. They finally got physical with just under six minutes left in regulation, with Neil getting two minors and a misconduct and Franzen seeing his night end early with a misconduct of his own.
Of course the Mule had already done his part. Four other Red Wings recorded at least two points, including Niklas Kronwall, who contributed three assists. Gustavsson also had an excellent game, stopping 37 of 38 shots to pick up the win.
Now if the Red Wings can only convince Franzen that every team the rest of the way is wearing Senators jerseys, maybe the stretch drive for the playoffs won’t be so tense after all.
The game was over when …
The battle between fatigue and rustiness went the Red Wings’ way. This was the Senators’ first game since the Olympics, and except for a high shot total, they looked every bit the part of a team that hadn’t played a game in nearly three weeks. Detroit may have been tired, but scoring some first period goals has a way of getting the juices flowing.
The unsung Red Wings hero was …
This was a tough one since hardly anyone is truly unsung in a 6-1 blowout. Let’s go with Danny DeKeyser, who was +3 on the night, managed two shots on goal, and except for one minor penalty, contributed almost entirely positive things to the victory.