It looked, for a time, as though the Ottawa Senators were really going to be able to push the Montreal Canadiens to the edge, keep the game close, and maybe even come away with another win against the Northeast Division leaders. Ottawa didn't get many shots in the first, but made up for that in the second, and after 40 minutes the teams had swapped powerplay goals and were tied at one.
But then the Habs' speed started to leave the Sens behind, their transition game had Ottawa getting dizzy, and a small lead for Montreal quickly turned in to a big lead as Ottawa started taking inopportune chances to try and tie the game up. And exciting game that was closer than the score indicated, but a loss nonetheless--and one which was, once again, thanks in large part to an inability to score enough goals to force the opposition to take some ill-advised chances of their own.
Sens Killer: Brian Gionta
Of the many speedy forwards that led the way for the Habs tonight, Gionta was at the forefront. He scored the third goal and assisted on the fourth, and had four shots on net.
Sens Killer: Elusive Goal-Scoring
There are very few games that can be won when a team only scores one goal. Tonight was the 12th game this season in which the Senators have scored one or fewer goals, of 29 games played. Ottawa is on pace for a franchise-worst total 175 goals for this season, which is pretty pathetic considering how terrible the team was in the early 90s and how much more difficult it was to score through much of that decade. Something's got to give.
Almost as Elusive: Powerplays
The Senators had 0:21 in powerplay time against the Habs tonight. They had only one powerplay against the Rangers, and only one against the Sabres. This brings to mind the three games in which the Senators had no powerplays from last season, and leads to questions about whether or not there is some sort of bias against the Senators from referees. Which, in turn, leads to scoffs of dismissal, and that is likely a fair response. But perhaps the trend of few powerplay opportunities for the Senators shares a common cause with the trend of few goals for the Senators: An unwillingness or inability to drive the net and make the kind of plays that force opponents to make infractions with their sticks or bodies, and which--coincidentally enough--also tend to lead to goals. That's the trick, Senators.
First real goal: Nick Foligno
Thanks to an incredible pass (after an outstanding deke) from Jason Spezza, Foligno was given a dog's age to fire the puck past Carey Price and score his first real goal of the season. It's technically his second of the season, but you'll recall that his first was actually put in by Ladislav Smid of the Oilers.
Many happy returns: Peter Regin
Good decision on Cory Clouston to keep Regin scratched tonight in order to avoid messing with a winning lineup. Obviously worked. Regin had better be back next game.
Injury Scare: Pascal Leclaire
Seeing Leclaire helped off the ice brought out all the comedians--myself included. But it turned out to be a broken skate blade, not a broken anything else.