Jared Cowen uses his unusually long reach to give Eric Staal a pleasant backrub.
The Ottawa Senators have been firing on all cylinders as of late, reeling off 4 straight wins in order to secure their playoff spot. Now that the team has secured their playoff spot, you'd hope they wouldn't take their foot off the gas. Unfortunately, that appears to be what happened, as the Senators had an uninspired 60 minutes and fell 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
After a scoreless first period, Brandon Sutter got the Canes on the board early in the second frame with a high shot that somehow handcuffed Craig Anderson and trickled in. Ottawa looked to have tied it up later that period after a rebound banked in off Chris Neil, but upon video review the puck was deemed to have been batted in by Neil, keeping it a 1-0 game. Late in the second, the Canes got a powerplay when Nick Foligno executed a clean open-ice hit that was called a kneeing penalty. As luck would have it, this 5-on-4 resulted in a powerplay goal from a Tuomo Rutuu deflection, giving the Canes a two-goal lead over the Senators.
This phenomenon of clean open-ice hits turning into penalties continued in the third period, as Chris Neil received one for knocking Eric Staal to the ice, and then upon leaving the penalty box, received another for knocking Tuomo Ruutu down. The Senators managed 16 shots in the third period, but they didn't manage to sneak one by Cam Ward until only 13 seconds remained in the game. Of course, by that point it was too late, and the Senators were unable to even up the score.
The Senators out-shot the Hurricanes 39-31, out-hit them 29-20, and out-lost them 1-2. With tonight's loss and the New Jersey Devils' win, the Senators can no longer finish 6th in the Eastern Conference; 7th and 8th are the only options.
Sens Killer: Cam Ward
Ward turned away 37 of 38 Senators shots, and made countless key stops. He even stopped Chris Neil on a breakaway! Speaking of Neil...
Sens Hero: Chris Neil
Normally, a player who leaves the box and immediately takes another minor penalty would not be a Sens Hero. However, Neil was the victim of some questionable reffing for those penalties, and otherwise played a stellar game. He kind of had a goal (waved off, though), 3 shots on goal, and a game high 6 hits.
Sens Zero: Powerplay
The Senators struggled mightily with the man advantage tonight, going 0 for 5. The powerplay has been pretty cold of late, and that's something that the Senators desperately need to fix in advance of the postseason.