The Ottawa Senators avoided setting a franchise-worst pace to start the season, but they could only secure one point after a loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday night. The Sens looked like the better team for most of the night, but couldn't capitalize on the powerplay--a recurring theme for some time now--and ultimately it was the big gun for the Caps, Alex Ovechkin, who ended the game with mere seconds remaining in overtime.
In all, it was a step in the right direction. The forwards were improved, although the big guns dropped the ball, but the supporting cast--led once again by the third line of Jarkko Ruutu, Chris Kelly, and Chris Neil--picked up the slack. Had half of the scoring chances and scrambles Ottawa had in front of the Washington net been converted, it would have been two points for Ottawa instead of one--and although 'close' only counts in horseshoes, it's at least some comfort for fans of a team with one point in three games.
Sens hero: Ryan Shannon
I was questioning the insertion of Shannon into the lineup tonight, but he sure made Cory Clouston look like a genius with his effort tonight. He played only eleven minutes on the night, but was making things happen, and his goal was a thing of beauty as he spun John Carlson inside out and roofed a perfect shot far side over Michal Neuvirth's glove.
Sens zero: Alex Kovalev
Now, I'm not one of the Kovalev haters who rags on the guy no matter what he does, but to tell it like it is, Kovalev was pretty terrible tonight. I understand the shortcomings that Kovalev brought with him when we signed him, and have come to terms with those, but we need him to offer something of use on the powerplay, and to be at least reasonably smart with what he does with the puck.
Sens hero: Pascal Leclaire
Pascal Leclaire is a rockstar. Well, game-winning goal notwithstanding. Still, Leclaire made some great saves, especially one glove save on Ovechkin late in the third period, and--don't look now--but has strung together three pretty good games in a row.
Sens zero: The powerplay
We were supposed to have a sick powerplay this season: Sergei Gonchar with Erik Karlsson, Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher, Jason Spezza, Peter Regin, and Milan Michalek were supposed to be assembled in some combination to absolutely kill it while a man up. But it hasn't materialized yet. Ottawa went 0-for-5 tonight and is now 0-for-14 on the season, which goes a long way in explaining why the Sens only have four goals in three games played. The outcome for the Sens won't likely improve until their powerplay efficiency does.
Sens hero: Peter Regin
Tonight was Regin's best game by a mile, and he looked to have found the speed and puck control that had been missing in the season so far. He took a couple untimely penalties, but still finished with an assist and was one of few plus-players on the night. His improved play will be helpful in improving the results Ottawa gets in the coming games.
Sens killer: Alexander Semin
Seems like Semin is always kiling the Sens, and he spoiled a great first period by scoring a late goal on Leclaire. My theory is that he sneaks under the radar with all the focus on Ovechkin; if he could play more consistently, the guy might be able to give Ovie a run for the team's scoring lead by feasting on opposing second- and third-line defenders.
The (in)jury is out: Daniel Alfredsson with a lower-body injury
This is a concern. Although not a concern that we should be surprised by: Given the age of many of our forwards, and the injury histories of many of the others, the Senators top-six forward group was always a fragile bunch. Alfredsson missed the last five minutes of regulation and the entire overtime with a lower-body injury. We're still waiting to hear what the specifics of it are, but it's not likely the last injury we'll see this season.
Watch out for: Sergei Gonchar
In a similar capacity as Alfredsson, Gonchar isn't getting any younger, and all the pressure being put on his shoulders as a result of the underperforming defence corps is probably adding a few years on the guy already. He played 29:42 tonight, 25:38 against the Maple Leafs, and 28:25 against the Sabres in the season opener.
It is still young in the season, and two off-days until the next game might be just what the Senators need to settle down and get back to basics about their game. Once they clean the on-ice game up, the wins will come in good numbers.