During his 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Jason Spezza was known primarily as a playmaker. But while everybody loves a sweet dish, fans and coaches in Ottawa screamed at him to take the puck to the net and shoot more often.
After racking up 71 assists in the 2005-06 season—helping Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley to career highs in goals—Spezza finally started to shoot the puck. And the results were often jaw-dropping.
Now a Dallas Star, Spezza returns to his old Ottawa stomping grounds today to face his former team. In celebration and commemoration of that, here are Spezza’s top 5 goals in an Ottawa uniform.
5. Vs Pittsburgh Penguins, Jan. 10, 2012
The Senators weren’t expected to do much in 2011-12, a season that was intended to be a rebuild year for the club. But thanks in-part to an incredible performance from Spezza, the team was able to compete with the likes of the near-dynasty Penguins fairly consistently. On Jan. 10, the Sens were up 2-0 when Spezza took advantage of a defensive breakdown to fake Jeff Zatkoff out of the cage.
“Oh, I’m sorry…was there supposed to be a goaltender in this net? I’ll just be going.”
4. Vs Florida Panthers, Dec. 19, 2013
When Spezza was named the team’s captain in 2012, Head-Coach Paul MacLean was hoping for big things. Although Spezza’s merits as a captain were wildly disputed by fans, he still lifted butts out of the seats more often than any player in a Sens uniform. Here, he slips by youngster Dylan Olsen, who at the time was trying to solidify himself as a pro after two full seasons in the minor leagues. Welcome back to the NHL, kiddo!
3. Vs Pittsburgh Penguins, Apr. 13, 2014
Talk about finishing strong. The Senators didn’t make the playoffs in Spezza’s only year as captain, but his last goal in an Ottawa uniform was especially nifty. Watch as he cuts a wall of snow in front of (once again) Jeff Zatkoff. He then shifts the puck from his forehand to his backhand back to his forehand…I’m not sure how many times. Poor Zatkoff. And look at that grin on Mark Stone’s face when he jumps off the bench to celebrate. Hilarious!
2. Vs Vancouver Canucks, Mar. 13, 2010
This goal is a wonder to behold. Volchenkov, holding the puck behind the net, gestures for Spezza to take the puck for a rush—and boy, did he comply. After outskating Alexandre Burrows, he steamed into Vancouver’s zone and split the ‘D’ by pulling the puck through poor Andrew Alberts’ legs. By the time former Senators defenceman Sami Salo realized he was about to get burned, it was too late. Burned! To help complete the end-to-end rush, Roberto Luongo opened his legs graciously for Spezz. What a nice guy!
1. Vs Montreal Canadiens, Oct. 27, 2005
When NHL teams returned from a year of lockout to play the 2005-06 season, fans were desperate for some great hockey. Luckily, Spezza had spent the previous year building his confidence and burning goaltenders in Binghamton—so he was more than ready to provide. The Senators started the season by scoring 46 goals in a 9-1 October, but Spezza’s overtime winner against the rival Habs was the best of them by far. Watch Richard Zednik and Craig Rivet gawk as Spezza makes Sheldon Souray look like a minor leaguer. Believe it, Theodore! (he couldn’t.)