KANATA, On — For the first time since 1995, the Ottawa Senators played host to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
With neither team doing too hot thus far in the season, the game could have gone either way.
As it was my first time attending a game at Scotiabank Place (and my first Senators game) I was not sure what to expect in terms of fan atmosphere.
Knowing the Sens (2-5-0) have been playing lacklustre hockey and the game was not even sold out (against the Jets, what?!) I didn’t expect the crowd to be high energy.
Not surprisingly, both teams received equally high cheers when they came out for the warm-up; Although I couldn’t believe how many fans I saw wearing Jets gear. Dustin Byfuglien received one of the loudest cheers when he was announced (almost as loud as the roar for Sens captain, Daniel Alfredsson).
The Jets (1-4-1) opened the scoring at 14:39 of the first period when Byfuglien wired a slapshot passed Craig Anderson (35-36). They only kept the lead until the early minutes of the second period, though.
Milan Michalek scored the first goal for the Senators, on the power play, less than five minutes into the second period. He also added an assist in the second and an empty netter in the third.
The Jets pulled Ondrej Pavelec (26-29), when they went on the man advantage, with five minutes to go in the game. I think that was the first time I have ever seen a team pull a goaltender with that much time remaining. I guess they were desperate to win and were willing to try anything at that point.
Michalek’s goal lit a fire under the Sens, who went on to shoot down the Jets 4-1.
Jason Spezza scored the game winning goal and had a pair of assists. Alfredsson also scored for the Sens Army.
Aside from the four Ottawa goals, the crowd was pretty deflated for most of the game; I could honestly say it was a boring atmosphere.
The in-house broadcaster had a very monotone voice and there weren’t many fan-friendly events going on. At one point, the in-house broadcaster promoted the Sens next game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and said “Kovalev comes back to Scotiabank Place”. Hello, Kovalev is not even playing in the NHL.
I’ve definitely had a much better time at the Bell Centre (obviously) and even the Air Canada Centre.
It was great to take part in the (new) Jets inaugral season, and it was sad to see them lose. You can take the Thrashers out of Atlanta but you can’t take the Atlanta out of the Jets.
The most exciting part of the game was watching the outstanding perfomances by both goaltenders. Even though Pavelec came up big for Winnipeg, the team in front of him seemed to lack confidence and made a few big mistakes that ultimately cost them the game.
I can’t say Ottawa played a perfect game either; they just got lucky that the Jets couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes. The Sens still have a lot to work on this season too, if they expect to win games against stronger teams than Winnipeg.
I will be back at Scotiabank Place Nov. 4 when the Habs are in town, and again on Dec. 5 when the Bolts are visiting. Hopefully, the energy will be a lot more entertaining at those games.