Stop me if you've heard this one before: The Ottawa Senators outplayed their opponents, but made a few mistakes and found themselves on the losing end of the box score.
Martin St. Louis scored two goals on similar plays, both on feeds from behind the net while he simply skated away from defensive coverage--once by Bobby Ryan and once by Chris Phillips.Valtteri Filppula added an insurance goal off of a missed connection between Jason Spezza and Phillips in the Lightning zone. Patrick Wiercioch scored the Senators' lone goal, a turnaround wrist shot that caught Ben Bishop by surprise, and a shot that belied the team's continued ineptness on the power play.
This was a Tampa Bay team devastated by injuries, and, quite frankly, they played like Ottawa did facing the same situation last season: Without firepower, they have reverted to a defense-first mentality. That made this an extremely frustrating game to watch. No Senators player had any open space to work with. There weren't many chances to attack with speed. Defenders were arriving on open men at the same time as the puck did.
And, really, that's all there was to this one. Perhaps the Senators were unprepared for the tenacity of a wounded opponent, but the time for excuses is fading fast.
Sens Heroes: Penalty Killing
The PK team kept the Lightning off of the scoreboard, snuffing out all four opportunities, and not allowing a shot until the fourth one. So, that was encouraging.
Sens Zeroes: Take your pick, really
No one played egregiously bad in this game, which means that blame can fall on whomever you want depending on your preferred narrative. But the truth is that if the Senators were performing the way we all expected them to, we'd write this off as a hiccup against an opponent taken too lightly. Because they're not performing the way we all expected them to, the loss takes on the tone of some kind of harbinger of futility.
But it's not... not really. It's true that this is a team Ottawa should beat, and it's a game they should win. One wonders just how much our anxiety/jubilation alters our perceptions in a loss like this one. I don't know what to make of this team. I'm glad I'm not the coach that has to figure out this mess.
Highlights (like there are any!)
Okay, maybe later. The folks at NHL.com must be scouring the minutes of sticks in lanes and bodies on bodies to find any excitement.