Yikes. Dave Cameron isn't going to like that game very much.
You'd think after going through the same thing against New Jersey earlier in the week, the Senators would know that you have to play 60 full minutes of tight hockey to win in this league. Instead, we saw the same script unfold: a great performance for 55 minutes, a little bit of bad luck, and a full defensive breakdown for five minutes. Again, that's all it takes to lose in this league.
Now, the Senators did have a depleted lineup going into the game, with two top-six forwards and one top-four defenseman out. Mike Hoffman (lower-body injury) joined Clarke MacArthur and late-scratch Marc Methot in the stands for a lineup that, according to our friend SensChirp, looked like a glorified preseason one:
These forward combinations look like something you'd see in preseason. Losing MacArthur and Hoffman really hurts. pic.twitter.com/S8YMEqNQw7— SensChirp (@SensChirp) October 24, 2015
There were also some rumblings that some other Senators may be facing some bumps and bruises, though both stayed in the lineup. Former Sen Antionne Vermette joined new addition Stefan Elliott in the pressbox, ending his ridiculously long 482 game ironman streak.
The first period started off pretty well for the Senators, as Bobby Ryan was tripped up by Connor Murphy and the league's 10th ranked powerplay went to work. You could tell Ryan was going to have a strong night as I counted 2-3 scoring chances for him within the first five minutes, including on the powerplay. Dave Cameron seemed to notice, putting him with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone despite Curtis Lazar appearing there in the warmups. There was a bit of back-and-forth in the period though, as alluded to in the even-strength shot chart below. One sequence of note included Kyle Turris sprung in alone before being turned aside by Anders Lindback, followed by a fourth line shift where the Senators were stuck in their own end, leaving Chris Neil to give Cody Ceci his stick and dive in front of a shot to block it.
Late in the period, the Yotes struck first on a goal that Erik Karlsson is probably going to want back. Mikkel Boedker used all of his tools to shake n' bake Karlsson, getting him to fake left before striding through the middle of the ice untouched and tucking the puck by Craig Anderson to take a late 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The goal, however, likely wasn't the worst part of the period for the Senators. On his final shift of the period, Curtis Lazar looked to be hit from behind by Zbynek Michalek near the corner boards on an innocent looking play, but didn't play a shift for the rest of the game. The team announced over Twitter that Lazar left the game due to an upper-body injury; here's hoping it isn't a concussion.
Lazar's injury meant that Ryan played left-wing with Turris and Stone for most of the game afterwards, and Stone ended up being double-shifted with the Zibanejad line, hence the high ice-times for both players. The Senators top lines drew two more powerplays, leading to some pressure, but none of their nine shot attempts on the night were able to get by Lindback. The Senators did start to really control the game at even-strength though, with all four lines generating consistent offensive zone pressure, and Bobby Ryan generating 7 shots on net through two periods. Late in the period, the Senators top line cashed in. Bobby Ryan decided that shooting wasn't working, and threaded a cross-ice backhand pass perfectly onto the stick of Cody Ceci, who sniped it past Lindback for his first goal of the season.
Ceci's last goal Feb 16, the night of chaos vs Carolina. Last point March 11, 17 games.— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) October 25, 2015
2nd period has been #Sens best - outscoring opponents 12-6, shots 91-68.— Murray Pam (@Pammerhockey) October 25, 2015
The Senators started off the third period with much of the same, roaring out to a 29-15 lead in shots on net. Things started to stagnate a bit when Jared Cowen went in for a big hit, missed, and ended up being called for roughing. Although the Yotes didn't score on their powerplay, they had a number of scoring chances against Anderson and the Sens offensive zone rhythm didn't really seem to recover after that.
With 5:29 left in the third, the Senators defensive zone structure got a little out of whack and Klas Dahlbeck was able to put a shot right on Anderson, who bobbled it enough for Brad Richardson to escape the check of Zack Smith and pot the go-ahead goal. The HNiC broadcasting crew did a pretty good job of breaking down how this goal happened in the highlight video below:
1:08 later and it's 3-1 due to a couple of bad decisions: the first by Anderson, taking too long and being too casual while playing the puck behind the net, and the second by Cowen, who tries to make a confusing backhand pass to Kyle Turris in the slot but hits his skate. Unfortunately, Erik Karlsson had assumed that Cowen would've made a simple pass (silly Karlsson) and ended up next to Turris, leaving Boedker the entire front of the net to deke Anderson and pot his second of the night.
Dave Cameron decided to be aggressive and pulled his goalie with around 3 minutes remaining, but a defensive zone pass was picked off by Boedker who potted the empty netter to complete his hat-trick.
Again, all it took was a couple of defensive miscues to give the Senators the loss despite winning 60% of the shot attempts. Not ONE Senator player was below 50% tonight, which means it isn't all doom and gloom, especially given the depleted lineup, but it's also interesting to note that the injuries led to Dave Cameron playing his better players more (Stone, Turris both above 19 minutes of ice-time). Due to poor defensive depth and the willingness to keep Patrick Wiercioch with Cody Ceci, the Senators rotated Jared Cowen and Mark Borowiecki with Erik Karlsson tonight and the results were terrifying. In particular, Cowen was on the ice for 18 of the Yotes 38 shot attempts on the night.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
The better Stone brother belonged to the Senators tonight (duh) as Mark was his usual self: ton of scoring chances, some great defensive zone plays, and the distributor of many slick passing plays. He probably plays better defense than most of the team's actual defensemen. 68% CF% led both teams tonight.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan had 9 shots in his last three games. He had 8 tonight. Extremely active alongside Kyle Turris all night, Ryan also picked up a beautiful assist on the Senators lone goal of the night while playing nearly 19 minutes - the most I've ever remembered him playing in a Senators uniform. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
Honourable Mention: Cody Ceci
When the Senators had the strong second period, I often found Cody Ceci at the source of it all. His defensive game looks better and better, and he was able to use his skating to make himself an active part of the rush tonight, none more so than on his first goal of the season.
Sens Killer: Anders Lindback
Lindback played the Senators with the Stars AND Sabres last season, so maybe he just knows the team well. He was sharp all night as the surprising Yotes continue to get contributions all over the lineup to bolster their record at the start of the season.
Game flow (EV) from Natural Stat Trick