The Penguin is Mightier: Senators take night off, lose 5-1

This was not a very entertaining game.

Simply put, the Ottawa Senators were barely able to muster an effort until the third period. Outshot 27-9 after two, the Senators seemed to mentally check out after Tyler Kennedy's incredible deflection at 9:14 of the first period. Craig Anderson wasn't great for the second game in a row, but it wasn't like he had much help. Maybe it's because the kids on the roster have finally come back to earth, but this game felt reminiscent of the Pascal Leclaire era when no matter how he played, he got zero support from his teammates. Or maybe it's because Brian Lee and Andre Benoit are a terrible idea for a defensive pair (who came up with this idea?).

Regardless, the Penguins deserved this win. Even their depleted lineup was too much for Ottawa, and they put it away before the game was half over. In the end they outshot Ottawa 41-22, and that's pretty much the game in a nutshell: Pittsburgh was - and is - a better team than the Ottawa Senators.

On to the Killers/Zeroes/Heroes...

Sens Killer: Chris Kunitz
Three assists (all secondary), +3, and somehow had no shots on goal, Chris Kunitz was noticeable all game long.

Sens Killer: Jordan Staal
The de facto top centre for the Penguins spent more time on the ice than any forward tonight. He had a goal and an assist, but Staal's presence was felt all night. It's frightening to think how good the Penguins would be if Staal, Malkin, and Crosby were all at perfect health at the same time.

Sens Kliler Lite: Zbynek Michalek
The Healthy Michalek, rarely one to show more than Anton Volchenkov-esque skills, scored for the second game in a row and third time in four games after going goalless through the first 58. Was +3.

Sens Zero: Erik Karlsson
It always seems to be one extreme or another with Karlsson. Sometimes his offensive skills outshine his defensive shortcomings and he's the most valuable player (or at least defenceman) on the ice. Tonight was not one of those nights. Karlsson was a liability. On more than one occasion the Senators' broadcasters referred to Karlsson vs. another player as a terrible matchup. He was on the ice for three goals against and twice he was caught very out of position. On the first goal, Karlsson forced Ryan Shannon to play his position for him while Karlsson was, as reader Jonana put it, "was about 5 light-years away when that goal happened." Also was responsible for 20% of Ottawa's giveaways.

Sens Hero: Ryan Shannon
Was flying around the ice tonight, continuing his impressive play as the team's makeshift second-line centre. Despite going -2 tonight, Shannon is the only Senator with more than 13 games played who is a plus (+1). Shannon had the game's only goal on a quick play off the faceoff during a Sens power play. He even played the role of defenceman on one of Pittsburgh's goals while Erik Karlsson was auditioning for a forward position.

Sens Negative: Colin Greening
Finished -3 with 14:42 ice time, but hit that -3 after only 6:15 of that.

Most Useless Player Award: Francis Lessard
3:29 ice time, 10 PIMs (10-minute misconduct). Why is he even on the team? 51 PIMs in 13 games. Why?

Faceoffs: Jason Spezza wasn't his recent self tonight and was 8-9 on the draw. Zack Smith was 10-3 and Jesse Winchester was an unreal 12-2. Overall the Senators won 33 face-offs to Pittsburgh's 21. Maxime Talbot was 3-9 for the Penguins.

A Comment On: Alex Kovalev
Watching him tonight, I came to the conclusion that the reason the NHL broadcasts have gone HD is so viewers can find Alex Kovalev on the ice. There was one replay in the second period from the perspective of above Craig Anderson that showed perfectly how little energy Kovalev put into backchecking on a play that turned into a Senators rush. If it weren't for widescreen, I don't think I'd have noticed him at all until Erik Karlsson overplayed him in the third period.

Shot Chart: Look at all those Vegas gold dots
2011-march15-sens-pens_medium



Highlights:


Closing: Do you like pizza?

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