Sometimes a team just runs into a team that is simply better. That was the case for the Ottawa Senators. The San Jose Sharks are a very good team and likely a much better team than the Senators. The Sharks were almost doubling up their opponents on average in shots on goal in their first four games, and that trend continued tonight.
Within the first minute, San Jose had Ottawa pinned in their own zone. Tomas Hertl had an open net to shoot at but could not control the puck. That was rectified a few seconds later on the same shift when he could control the puck after all and scored 55 seconds into the game. Ottawa hung around and at the 15 minute mark, Zack Smith scored his first goal of the season to tie the game after a rebound came to him right in the slot. Three minutes later, the Senators took the lead on a power play goal that was a thing of beauty. Erik Karlsson passed the puck to Patrick Wiercioch, who passed it to Jason Spezza on the left boards. Spezza was given time to find Bobby Ryan on the right side and Ryan fired a snap shot into the net to give Ottawa the lead.
The shots were 12-8 for San Jose after the first period, although Ottawa finished the stronger team. The Senators held this lead until late in the second period despite the Sharks increasing the pressure in the second period. Eventually the Senators would break, and it was the penalty kill that would doom them yet again. After Milan Michalek took a needless penalty in the offensive zone, Logan Couture was left alone in a wild scramble and slid the puck in the net to tie the game. Shots were 26-18 for San Jose after two periods. While the Sharks were definitely the better team, it was a tie game with 20 minutes to go.
Then the third period happened. The Senators started the period shorthanded with Patrick Wiercioch in the box from the end of the second period. Ottawa did manage to kill that off, but five minutes into the period, Spezza put the team shorthanded again by deciding to punch Tommy Wingels in the back of the head. Brent Burns was left alone on the ensuing power play and scored to put the Sharks ahead for good. Robin Lehner took a double minor for high-sticking but helped erase that by stopping all nine shots on the four minute power play. Ottawa received a late power play of their own, and had a couple of decent chances to tie the game though it would have been grossly unfair had they managed to do so.
The shots in the third period were a whopping 24-5 in San Jose's favour. The final shot count was 50-23 on the Sharks side. The total attempted shots were 87-48 for San Jose. In 5-on-5 play (not counting goalie pulled situations), the Sharks outshot the Senators 30-14. By any measure, it was complete domination for San Jose. The Sharks even had more shots on the power play than the Senators had on 5-on-5.
Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
The Senators allowed 50 shots but only three goals. Lehner was solid in net and did his best to not let the score get out of control in the third period. He did take away four minutes of attacking time with his double minor, but otherwise it was a great game for him. This was the best goaltending the Senators have received since the season opener.
Sens Zeroes: Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Bobby Ryan
The first line was unbelievably terrible tonight. Consider these numbers: Spezza was on the ice for 6 Ottawa shot attempts in 5-on-5 play and 24 San Jose attempts. Counting only shots on goal it was 12-3 for San Jose. When Spezza, Michalek and Ryan were all on together, the shot attempts were 15-6 in San Jose's favour and shots were 9-3. Spezza did have a nice pass to Ryan for the 2-1 goal, but the first line was just horrible tonight. All of this was done with a healthy dose of offensive zone minutes.
Sens Zeroes: Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Patrick Wiercioch, Jared Cowen
When you allow that many shots, chances are the defencemen did not play very well. Shot attempts were 30-14 for San Jose with Karlsson on the ice. For Cowen it was even worse (20-7 in San Jose's favour) and 16-7 for Wiercioch. Shot attempt numbers are often not that reliable in small single game sample for individual players, but I can't think of a reason to justify that large a gap.
Honourable mention: Eric Gryba
While the top four on defence was destroyed, Gryba was one of the few Senators to end up on the positive side. They played easier competition than the others, but they fared well. I even recall a successful Gryba pass from one blue line to the other.
So a lot of players looked very bad tonight. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed right? Here is the advice of a wise Swedish man on what the Senators can do to fare better in the future.
@sens_adnan 1. Don't face best team in league. 2. Rinse, repeat.— Stefan G:son (@steffeG) October 13, 2013
That is pretty much it. The Sharks have dominated every other team that they have played this season. While the Senators were fortunate to lose by only one goal, this was the first time this season that Sharks have not won by at least three goals. The team doesn't have a lot of problems, and a lot of them will look better against teams that are not the San Jose Sharks. The penalty kill continues to be awful though. Counting goals while shorthanded as well as the two goals scored right after a penalty ended, the Senators have essentially given up seven goals on the penalty kill in four games. Ottawa has given up a total of 11 goals.
And just for laughs, here is the third period chart: