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Heritage Classic grades: Senators overcome slow start

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

The Sens are victorious in the 2014 Heritage Classic. (Getty Images)
The Sens are victorious in the 2014 Heritage Classic. (Getty Images)

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B+Was it the Senators' best game of the season? No, but they really settled into the contest after the first 10 minutes were owned by the Canucks. It had the feeling of the last game against Detroit but they settled things down from a defensive perspective and were the better team for the rest of the game, doing a great job on generating offensive looks. In addition to the goals, they had a few other shots go off the post. It was the big win they needed for moving forward.
C+The Canucks came out quickly, whether it was being pumped up with the atmosphere or what but after the two quick goals, the offensive woes showed up again and they didn't threaten the Senators much until they were pressing in the third. Even worse, in an event that was supposed to be a showcase for the franchise, the goalie "controversy" was a bigger story than anything else, including the fact that they were playing in front of nearly 60,000 fans. That's impressive and in this case, that's not good.
BFrom start to finish, the Stadium Series was definitely a hit but the final game had the least cachet of them all. Certainly much of that was out of the NHL's control with the bad weather outside but the point of these special games is to play outdoors. Instead they just played hockey indoors in a much bigger venue. It did help the ice to hold up better than most "outdoor" games, though. It just seemed to missing something in comparison to the other Stadium Series games.
BNo matter when he is on the ice, Erik Karlsson is noticed. It's not always a good thing for the Senators but usually it is. Even after he assisted brilliantly on Tom Sestito's goal for the Canucks, he was very good for the Senators including scoring the tying goal on the power play. He really shined in four-on-four play. Fellow defenseman Cody Ceci had a nice showing as well.
A-Never as easily noticed as Karlsson, Clarke MacArthur was once again his usual, solid and unheralded self. He scored the Senators' first goal and then made an excellent play to help set up Karlsson's goal. He fought hard along the boards and was able to shuffle the puck along to Karlsson who then made the play and shot.
B+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. The Canucks came at him strong in the third period and he answered the bell. It's been a rough season for Anderson but Sunday wasn't a rough outing.
D+In the other crease you had Eddie Lack who was not in a good position in this game based on nothing of his own doing. Even in the introductions fans were booing Lack/Luuuing Roberto Luongo, upset that Lu wasn't in net just as Luongo was. It only got worse with a few goals against and a couple more shots that beat Lack but hit the post. This grade is as much on the decision to start Lack as it is on Lack himself.
B+If Ryan Kesler isn't happy in Vancouver right now it didn't show. Like usual he was tough to play against for Ottawa and did one of the things he does best, which was draw some penalties. He was one of Vancouver's more effective forwards in the game.
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