The Ottawa Senators started strong when Kaspars Daugavins scored 1:19 into the first to take the lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but it all went downhill from there. Chris Kunitz scored 37 seconds after Daugavins to tie the game, and the Penguins scored four goals on their first eight shots to take a 4-1 lead before the game was ten minutes old. Craig Anderson was pulled just 9:11 into the game, and although Alex Auld played some decent hockey for the rest of the game, it was all but over at that point.
Sens Zero: Craig Anderson
Earlier this month, Anderson was pulled just 2:25 into the game. On this night, a little longer, but it's always concerning when your starting goaltender allows several goals within the first few minutes of a game. His numbers tonight work out to a .500 SP and a GAA of over 26. On the bright side, Anderson bounced back from his last early-game pulling with three straight wins, so hopefully he does so again.
Sens Zero: Chris Phillips
It might not be fair to saddle Big Rig with a zero tonight, but I'll do it anyway. In the past, when he was paired with Anton Volchenkov, being matched against Sidney Crosby brought out the best in Phillips. Not so tonight. He was on the ice for three of the first four goals Pittsburgh scored, all of which were assisted by Crosby himself. On the first, Phillips gave Crosby all the time in the world to make his pass; he deflected the second into his own net (just bad luck, but still bad); and on the third, he watched Evgeni Malkin pick up a lose puck, skate into the slot, and fire it past Anderson. It just wasn't a great night for Phillips, as he seemed overwhelmed trying to match up against the Penguins' skaters.
Sens Heroes: The third line
Two of Ottawa's three goals came from the third line: Kaspars Daugavins scored the first goal of the game, and Erik Condra scored the final one, and Zack Smith managed one assist on the night. Although Daugavins finished the game +2, the most impressive of these three to me was Condra, who played 15:13 total TOI, including 4:54 SH TOI, which is more short-handed ice time than any other Senator, including defencemen. The third line, and especially Condra, were a huge reason why the Penguins were limited to one powerplay goal in five opportunities.
Sens Killer: Tyler Kennedy
Kennedy (aka Ugly Crosby) had 3P (1G, 2A) on the night,. meaning he's now a point-per-game player in his career when playing the Ottawa Senators: He has 14P (9G, 5A) in 14GP against the Sens. He owns this team.
Honourable Mentions: Alex Auld, Erik Karlsson, Jared Cowen, Nick Foligno
- Auld stopped 30 of 32 shots faced, once again playing his best hockey without knowing he was going to see any ice time; I suggest next time Paul MacLean plans on starting Auld, he avoid telling him until the last possible minute.
- Karlsson, perhaps surprisingly, didn't lead the Senators in overall TOI, but he did lead the team in ES TOI, had one assist, and fired seven shots towards the net (two hit the mark, four were blocked, and one went wide--that one which went wide resulted in Daugavins' game-opening goal). He also finished even in plus-minus, on the ice for just one goal against, often using his speed to compensate for his small stature.
- Cowen scored his second goal of the season and finished even in plus-minus. This kid's got a hell of a shot, and we'd all like to see him use it more. Cowen looked guilty of indecisiveness on the Jared Staal goal, but had he checked Staal, he would have left Tyler Kennedy wide open in the corner; he was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and ended up looking bad out of it. Still, on the whole, a solid game for Cowen once again.
- Foligno notched two assists in the game, the only Senator with a multi-point night. But he still finished -1 overall. But he's now got five points (2G, 3A) in his last five games, moving him up to fifth in team scoring with 12P on the season.
Virtually Unused: Stéphane Da Costa
Heading into the game, MacLean said it was an opportunity to see how Da Costa matched up against much larger competition; apparently, it didn't take MacLean long to see that Da Costa couldn't match up against them, because the Sens' centreman played just 7:23 TOI in the game, 2:37 of which was in the first period. In those seven-plus minutes, Da Costa had one shot on goal and--notably--won both faceoffs he took (Da Costa was the only Senators pivot who won more than half of his draws). It seems like MacLean already had conclusions drawn on the Da Costa file. But not working in Da Costa's favour are his longer-than-usual shifts: In the second, he played two shifts of over a minute (one was 1:08, the other 1:23). Coaches don't often like shifts longer than 40 seconds or so, even if the second one resulted in Cowen's goal.
But hey, at least Da Costa played more than Zenon Konopka, who spent almost as much time in the penalty box (five minutes) as he did on the ice (5:04).
Curious statistic of the night: Powerplay time
Speaking of Konopka, he played more time on the powerplay (57 seconds) than Bobby Butler (40 seconds). I can't imagine a reason why, except perhaps an attempt to use Konopka to generate traffic and chaos in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. If that was the intent, it, unfortunately, didn't work.
Sidney Crosby scored three assists in the game in over 17 minutes TOI. He had two shots on net, and won 18 of 25 faceoffs taken (a 72% winning percentage). So... not bad. The Kid has seven points in three games this season.