The fans in attendance brought their A-game to Dany Heatley's return to Ottawa.
The moment Heatley stepped on the ice, fans were blowing the roof off Scotiabank with their boos, the 'Heatley sucks' and 'Traitor' chants (to say nothing of the even less friendly ones), dozens of Heatley T-shirts and jerseys being thrown on the ice, and finally the reported Heatley action figures in SBP urinals, fans took advantage of their opportunity to voice their disappointment at the former Senators star.
But fans would be more disappointed by the night's end. Another impressive effort by Pascal Leclaire was wasted as the Senators completely tuned out after the first period, and going down afterwards. Virtually invisible defensive support for Leclaire and zero offensive pressure spelled the Senators' end.
The sad thing, at least from my perspective? If the Senators continue to struggle as they are, and there seems to be little reason to expect otherwise, tonight may very well end up as the biggest game for the team. And it was an opportunity devastatingly lost.
Sens Hero: Pascal Leclaire
The lone Senator--and I say this with no hyperbole--to show up for the whole game tonight. He stopped 29 of 33 shots, including some huge breakaway saves, but once again received no offensive support. He must be getting pretty sick of it, especially as he watches Brian Elliott continuing to put up wins as he gets all the team's goals. But give Leclaire credit, he's still going out and putting up his best effort.
Sens Zero: Erik Karlsson
Tough game for King K, to say the least. He finished -2, and was culpable in both goals. His offensive overzealousness also continues, and he and his partner--whether that be Filip Kuba or Sergei Gonchar--fail to communicate properly to one another properly. Given that both Kuba and Gonchar are very experience veterans, I'll assume the fault in this is more often Karlsson than not. But, to be honest, that's not horrible: Better he spend what's looking like a rebuilding year so that he can play well in a year the team is ready to compete.
Sens Killer: Antti Niemi
The Senators actually did have some good chances in the first period, and appeared capable of taking the lead based on their play in the first 20 minutes. But Niemi was there, and stopped all 28 shots the Sens threw his way.
Sens Killer: Chris Kelly's offensive instincts
Or should I say, the lack thereof. Kelly deserves credit for his effort tonight; he was one of few skaters helping the Senators, and he actually led the team with five shots on net. (The fact that Chris Kelly led the team in shots goes a long way in explaining Ottawa's offensive struggles, but that's not Kelly's fault.) But even the chances Kelly got were for naught, as they didn't amount to anything. Especially notable was a 3-on-1, where Kelly carried the puck into the zone, waited until there was no room to make a real play, and took a low-percentage shot short-side on Niemi. It's unfair to expect too much from Kelly, but it is frustrating to a player with limited offensive abilities get Ottawa's prime offensive chances--and, as could be expected, continually blow those chances.