Sens rally to win Heritage Classic
VANCOUVER—Senators’ rookie Cody Ceci is trying to help his team by helping his own cause.
Ceci’s second-period goal stood up as the winner as the Ottawa Senators doubled the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 before a disappointed crowd of more than 50,000 people yesterday in the NHL Heritage Classic.
“These are points that we need right now going down the stretch, and it means a lot to me,” he noted.
“I’m just trying to earn my spot here.”
The Senators (27-23-11) posted their first win in three games and kept pace in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Canucks (28-25-10) suffered their ninth loss in 10 games and remained on the bubble in their quest for eighth in the Western Conference.
Ceci put the Senators up 3-2 midway through the second. The defenceman moved up, took a pass from Jason Spezza, and fired home a shot from right-wing on a 3-on-2 rush.
He helped the Sens make a classic comeback as they produced four unanswered goals after trailing 2-0 in the first five minutes.
The score was tied 2-2 after the first period before Ceci decided the outcome in the second and then Colin Greening closed out the scoring in the third.
“I think it was huge that we tied the game before going into the intermission,” noted Ceci.
“That was big for us just because we’ve had it tough lately before the [Olympic] break and the game right after it,” he added.
The Senators bounced back from a humiliating 6-1 home loss to Detroit on Thursday in their first game after the Olympic break.
Ceci went minus-2 in that loss.
“It’s great to be young,” said Senators’ coach Paul MacLean.
“They have short memories.”
Both of Ceci’s goals this season have been game-winners. He led the Sens to a win over St. Louis in mid-December.
Clarke MacArthur, Erik Karlsson, and Colin Greening (empty net) also scored for Ottawa.
Jason Garrison and Zack Kassian scored for the Canucks before Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson shut them out the rest of the game.
Anderson, who appeared to have little difficulty playing in a stadium venue with different lighting than a traditional arena, posted his 20th win of the season, recording 29 saves as Vancouver outshot the Sens 31-28.
MacLean praised Anderson for making difficult saves look easy, but the goaltender’s calm demeanour between the pipes defied how he actually felt at the outset of the game.
“It was one of those things where you have the butterflies going and the nerves going,” he admitted.
“Everything’s just a little bit different than your usual normal routine.
“It’s a big win for us and it’s a great venue, and it’s one of those things that we’ll be smiling about for while because it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Anderson added.
Canucks’ goalie Eddie Lack, who appeared to be fighting the puck at times and gave up more rebounds than usual, suffered the loss as he drew his third-straight start following the NHL’s Olympic break.
Nominal No. 1 Roberto Luongo watched from the bench while sporting a toque and replica vintage pads and gloves.
The game was designed as a tribute to the 1915 Stanley Cup final between the eventual-champion Vancouver Millionaires and Ottawa Senators.
The Canucks wore maroon and cream-coloured replica Millionaires jerseys while the Senators sported duds similar to those of their predecessors.
Coaches wore varsity-styled jackets rather than their usual suits.
Elsewhere in the NHL, Philadelphia topped Washington 5-4 (OT), San Jose beat New Jersey 4-2, Florida downed the N.Y. Islanders 5-3, Boston dumped the N.Y. Rangers 6-3, Colorado upended Tampa Bay 6-3, St. Louis doubled Phoenix 4-2, and Anaheim trimmed Carolina 5-3.