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Ottawa Senators' offence continues to sputter in 2-1 loss to Minnesota Wild

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The struggle to score goals is real

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t have much to say about this game. For the second time in as many games, the Senators were facing a backup goalie who hadn’t played in more than two weeks. And for the second time in two games, they had all sorts of trouble solving him. Unfortunately for Ottawa, this time they couldn’t eke out the victory.

The Wild opened the scoring early with an awful shorthanded goal. The Sens lost the offensive zone draw, and then didn’t pressure Ryan Suter at all. Rather than just dump it, he skated it into the Sens’ zone, passed to Eric Staal, and then potted the rebound because nobody had followed his movements, not even Craig Anderson. It was sloppy, sloppy work by a struggling powerplay.

The Wild nearly took a 2-0 lead late in the second period, but Mikko Koivu’s stick, arms, and hockey pants were all above the crossbar when he made contact with the puck. The ref had signalled goal on the ice, but announced that the call on the ice stood and therefore it was no goal.

The third period saw Ottawa tie it up with Kyle Turris shooting one through a Chris Neil screen. I don’t know why Neil was out with Turris, but in this instance, it worked.

Ottawa just felt overwhelmed in overtime, and it ended with Matthew Dumba depositing a winner with just over a minute remaining, and with the Sens’ corps looking exhausted. Minnesota were full marks for the victory, and Ottawa was probably happy to salvage a point after scoring just one goal for the seventh time in 15 games this season.

Thing I don’t get: Line combinations

Turris with Neil aside, there are some things I just don’t get. I know it’s early to be throwing the coach under the bus (I gave Dave Cameron at least 30 games), but I do ask why Smith-Stone-Pageau is an inseparable line when this team is scoring 2.20 goals per game, good enough for 27th in the league. We’ve seen evidence that Hoffman-Turris-Stone is the best scoring line on the team. Dzingel-Brassard-Ryan were dangerous against the Canucks a while ago. Why not try those, rather than diluting offensive talent to the point this team can’t score goals? According to Natural Stat Trick, this team nearly broke even in shot attempts and shots this game, but did worse in terms of scoring chances (43%), and even worse in terms of high-danger chances (35%). It agrees with my eye test - the team is generating shots, but it’s not generating chances. I know I’m not an NHL coach, and I never will be, but I can’t help but think that loading up on offence is a good choice when your team has scored nine total goals in its last seven games.

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