It has not been easy lately folks. If you are like me, and you care a little too much about this team (and I know the answer to that if you are reading this), you know the Sens have been letting you with frequency lately. Settling in for this one, the question was... which team would show up tonight?
The early indications we that perhaps tonight could be a game where the Sens made their fans smile. The Senators of course had a few adventures early in their own zone, including a brutal turnover by Zack Smith that resulted in a Jared Cowen penalty.
It seemed like the same old script. Senators take early penalty, opponent makes them pay.
Well, they SORTA stuck to the script. Sure, Jason Pominville scored his 13th on the powerplay, but just before that Clarke MacArthur went Globetrotter, with an insane pass to Kyle Turris, who was able to squeak one through Josh Harding for his
third second goal in as many days. If that is not the highlight of the night, I want to see what is.
So it was 1-1, which meant somehow the Senators weren't going to be 2-0. I paused the game and spent an hour in meditation to try to figure out whether that was allowed.
When I returned, Mika Zibanejad went swimming in the blue paint and was able to whack a loose puck in to make it 2-1 for the Senators. It is almost as if a 4th line of Condra-Grant-Zibanejad is more effective than the alternative...
I know that you stat nerds will claim "small sample size" but I'm going to call it - this is a COMPLETELY different team when they are winning. They play with so much more confidence and look much more like the team we cheered for last year, the team that made the playoffs. Just about anything a Sens fan could hope for in period one happened. The Sens have been down early all the time? Well they were up 2-1. They've been outshot almost comically all season? They fired 18 shots (!) at Harding, while only giving up 6. And for Matt Cooke haters; Cory Conacher laid him out early with a nice big hit.
The second period saw the Senators start well with some pressure, before an innocent point shot from Jonas Brodin somehow made its way past Craig Anderson. There is no doubt it was a puck that Anderson had to have. At the time, shots were 21-9 in favour of his team, and it was a bad goal.
Trouble was, it wasn't even the worst goal of the period. That honour belonged to the steaming pile of turd that was the Dany Heatley go ahead goal 7 minutes into the period. Erik Karlsson made a bad play. Anderson made a bad play. And the crowd was not exactly thrilled to see the Heater score. Chris Neil went out to "swing momentum", and punch at Clayton Stoner. Since Minny had a goal called back minutes later, it... worked?
Either way, whether you choose to believe the Wild woke up after scoring two goals, or whether the Sens stopped playing, the result wasn't fun. The high paced, confident Sens from period 1 were gone.
They did manage a couple great scoring chances late in the second period, with Derek Grant and Neil on a two on one, and with Z Smith on a short handed chance. Neither found the back of the net. So the Sens, while up 30-16 in shots on goal, were down 3-2.
So which team would show up in the 3rd? Down a goal, at home in front of a crowd desperate for a win, mired in a slump, would we see the Pesky Sens?
Started well for the Sens, with Marc Methot lining up a perfect hip check on the young Mikael Granlund, spilling him into the boards. They even got a power play when fan favourite Dany Heatley took a penalty. Sens failed to create any chances, or even any shots on goal.
Midway through the period, Kyle Turris drew a penalty, but kept the play alive and Bobby Ryan's shot found the magical place where the crossbar meets the post. And the puck stayed out. Again. However, on that power play, Paul MacLean decided to put Mika Zibanejad on the point. He pounded the puck and Milan Michalek put in the rebound!
However, with a minute and a half left, the Sens let Mikko Koivu walk in, and he beat Craig Anderson high. It would stand as the game winner.
Sens Hero: Kyrke MacTurris: Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris have been the two most consistent forwards (most consistent players) for the Ottawa Senators this year. Tonight was no different. Their ability to always have the puck, to play with speed, gives Sens fans something to cheer for. Tonight they hooked up for arguably the goal of the year so far.
Sens Hero: Mika Zibanejad: We'd all like to see him get more ice time, and tonight he earned his third period ice time for sure. Goal, assist, was all over the ice. Was picked to be the extra attacker by the coach, and that's saying something.
Sens Zero: Craig Anderson: The team played much better tonight. Outchancing, outshooting their opponent, and yet... this game was a loss because Craig Anderson let in two really ugly goals. On the heels of Robin Lehner's struggles last night, an organizational strength has looked weak two days in a row.
Sens Killer: The Ghost of Dany Heatley Past: Goal, Assist for the
Allstar Wild's 4th liner. Sure, his goal should never have happened, but it did, and since the Wild only won by one goal...
Sens Killer: Themselves. Finding new ways to lose.
At least we'll always have the Clarke MacArthur pass, right? Right?