They outshot their opponents 32-23. Normally that would be a positive step for the team. And rationally, it is.
Before Detroit got their first goal--the first goal of the game--Ottawa had three separate power play opportunities, and they didn't come close to scoring with any of them. When the game was still within reach at 3-1 in the third period, the Senators got their fourth power play opportunity... and didn't come close. The team went 0-fo-4 on the PP on a night where it could have made the difference.
The opportunities were there. The team had a chance to play with the lead, suck the life out of their opponents, get a tightly-wound crowd behind them. They didn't do that. That was the big difference in the game, and endemic of this season, if the Senators don't have everything going right, they don't have a win.
1-0 Red Wings
Patrick Wiercioch tries to play the puck in deep to support a line change. But, whoops, that's a bad plan, because the puck winds up right on Jakub Kindl's stick. P-Dubs is way up by the red line, because he doesn't want an icing call, so that means it's Erik Karlsson vs. a 3-on-1. Karlsson does what he can, but he's not a freaking god, and the puck is on Johan Franzen's stick. Franzen decides to shoot, and wires a perfect shot over Robin Lehner's glove to the far top corner. Maybe Lehner saves that goal sometimes, but maybe he doesn't. It was a pretty great shot, and tough to find fault with any goalie that faced it.
2-0 Red Wings
The doom starts to creep in. Karlsson fires a pass intended for a tip to facilitate a line change, but it doesn't wind up behind the Red Wings' net--it winds up on Niklas Kronwall's stick. Whoops. Kronwall feeds Tomas Tatar, and all of a sudden, it's a 3-on-2 rush up the ice. The defenders are Erik Karlsson and Jared Cowen. It doesn't take a pro scout to know who to attack in that scenario. Joakim Andersson drives the middle lane towards the net, and Cowen has no choice to respect that play, and moves to cover it, leaving Drew Miller wide open. Karlsson is also playing the pass to Andersson, so Miller just gets a free one-timer and does not miss. No real blame to be assigned here--Cowen is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, Karlsson can't do anything, and Lehner can't react until he sees where the pass is headed. It was an unlucky bounce that led to a perfectly-played transition.
2-1 Red Wings
A play that the Senators simply need more of. Simple and direct. Chris Phillips feeds Milan Michalek, who fires a wrist shot against Jonas Gustavsson, and then--get this!--he follows his shot to the net. The puck isn't secured, Michalek knocks it loose, and Clarke MacAruthur is there to fire it into an open net. Someone should have drawn that up on the whiteboard for one of the power plays.
3-1 Red Wings
Oh, man. So, Brendan Smith gains the Senators' zone while his linemates are changing. Z. Smith and Mark Borowiecki both decide to play Smith, which leaves Joe Corvo to cover a 2-on-1 of Darren Helm and Drew Miller. Corvo doesn't have much of a chance on this play, but does his best to force Helm to turn it over. Instead, Helm passes to Miller, and since Lehner is squaring up at the shooter like he's supposed to, and Z. Smith and Borowiecki are way up by the blue line, Miller has no one around him and nothing but an open net to shoot at. He could have skated it in backwards blindfolded, but chooses just to tap it in.
3-2 Red Wings
With Lehner on the bench--this means the Senators have an extra skater, people--the Senators gain the zone, and Z. Smith works the puck back to Karlsson. That's never a bad plan. Karlsson waits for a little traffic to build in front of the Detroit net and then launches a puck into the mess. Predictably, it ricochets, and Mika Zibanejad is there to slam it home into an open net. Nice. I feel like this kind of play set-up--Get traffic in front of the net, let Karlsson bomb it, and then use your numeric advantage to bang in the rebound--might be useful in some other aspect of Ottawa's game, but I can't quite figure out what it could be. I'm sure it will come to me.
4-2 Red Wings
Daniel Alfredsson scored an empty-net goal, because of course he did. Did you know that Daniel Alfredsson plays for the Red Wings now?
Sens Hero/Zero/Killer: Daniel Alfredsson
I don't really have the words for this. Alfredsson's return has been talked about endlessly at this point, but you just knew when the net was empty and he was on the ice how it was going to end. You had 17 years of foreshadowing.
Sens Hero: Mika Zibanejad
Tied with Z. Smith and Colin Greening among Senators forwards with three hits--but he also scored a goal, which makes him better than those two. Zibanejad now has eight goals on the season, and is showing the look of a budding power forward. The team desperately needs him to do well.
Honorable Mention: Clarke MacArthur
Scored a goal, and also got moved to Jason Spezza's line to try and get Ottawa's maligned captain going. I guess that's the highest compliment you can get on this team right now.
Sens Zero: Mark Reeds or Dave Cameron
One of these men is responsible for Ottawa's power play. This power play unit has Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris, and Bobby Ryan on it. That is too much talent to perform so poorly. Someone has to answer for it. Whomever's left is running the penalty kill, and probably should be fired for that mess, but the PK wasn't a factor tonight, and the PP was. I'm a staunch advocate of coaching continuity--I believe giving up too soon only serves to blunt player development--but we've watched this power play run for two and a half seasons now. The ratio of results to talent is simply inexcusable, and something has to change.