Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sens lose more than game

PITTSBURGH—The Ottawa Senators lost a lot more than a game.
Star defenceman Erik Karlsson went down with a left Achilles injury when he was cut by a skate blade late in the second period in the Senators’ 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh last night.

“It’s a tough blow,” said Senators’ captain Daniel Alfredsson.
“Obviously, the way he’s playing and how much he means to our team, it feels terrible and I feel really bad for him.”
The Norris Trophy winner last season as the NHL’s top defenceman, Karlsson was cut by Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke’s skate blade as the two tangled along the boards.
The Senators said Karlsson will need surgery.
“We all know who’s involved in it,” Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said about Cooke. “That’s just the way it is.
“The injury to Erik was unfortunate and it happens on a nothing play that could’ve potentially been whistled down.”
Cooke has been suspended several times for much criticized hits—some of them involving head-shots that injured opposing players.
In 2011, Cooke was suspended for the Penguins’ final 10 regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs after an elbow to the head of New York Rangers’ defenceman Ryan McDonagh.
Karlsson fell to the ice and was in visible pain after tangling with Cooke.
He needed help getting back to the bench and displayed frustration—throwing his stick against the boards before disappearing down the runway.
“Him and I were engaged, and he went down screaming,” Cooke recalled. “I didn’t even know what happened.
“It’s a complete accident and obviously I feel terrible about it.
“It has happened a few times over the past couple years and it’s scary,” he added.
The Senators stood up for their teammate in the third as Chris Neil took penalties for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct after tussling with Cooke.
“I think at the end of the day you kind of expect it,” said Penguins’ star Sidney Crosby.
“I don’t think anyone was shocked to see Neil go after him, but unfortunately that’s kind of how it works sometimes,” he reasoned.
James Neal scored twice while Crosby had a goal and two assists to help the Penguins snap a two-game losing streak and pull within a point of Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey.
The Devils swept Pittsburgh in a home-and-home series over the weekend.
“We had two tough games against New Jersey and after those two losses, we wanted to have a good bounce-back game and we did that tonight,” Neal said.
Pascal Dupuis also scored for Pittsburgh, Paul Martin had two assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves.
Stephane Da Costa scored his first goal of the season and Jim O’Brien also scored for Ottawa. The Senators lost for the fifth time in seven games.
The loss of the Karlsson is a major blow for the Senators—already playing without centre Jason Spezza and left-winger Milan Michalek.
Spezza is out indefinitely after surgery for a herniated disk while Michalek was a late scratch yesterday because of a lower-body injury.
“He’s a player who is irreplaceable,” Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson said of Karlsson.
“It’s unfortunate, but there are no words that can explain what we’re feeling.”
Ottawa, behind Anderson’s 42-save effort, had blanked Buffalo on Tuesday night at home, but couldn’t carry the momentum to Pittsburgh.
Anderson stopped 25 shots last night.
Penguins’ defenceman Kris Letang returned after missing three games because of a groin injury. He was paired with Matt Niskanen, who also returned after missing eight games with an ankle injury.
Both goalies were strong early as the teams combined for 26 first-period shots.
The Penguins scored the lone goal of the opening period—the 11th time in 14 games Pittsburgh has scored first.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Calgary dumped Dallas 7-4 and St. Louis nipped Detroit 4-3 (OT).

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