Ottawa's playoff chances should've realistically been over entering this game. The Senators were six points out of the playoffs with two games out of hand (not in hand?) and didn't hold the tie-breaker with anyone ahead of them. And yet, the Red Wings in the final wild card spot were falling, and the Sens were taking on the Hurricanes, one of the key teams they were chasing. Coupled with Cory Schneider's injury, it wasn't hard to see how the Sens could just maybe squeak into the playoffs. Where would we be without the Sens giving us a faint sense of hope at this point in the season?
The game opened strongly for the Sens. Each of Mike Hoffman, Bobby Ryan, and Zack Smith got breakaway-type chances, but Cam Ward turned them all aside. A strong forecheck by by the new Senators Scott Gomez got the Sens on the board first. He forced a turnover behind the Canes' net, and passed the puck to Mark Stone who snuck it in short side. It was Gomez's first point as a member of the Sens. In the dying seconds of the period, another good forecheck by Gomez forced another turnover. Ryan Bobby got the puck to Ryan Dzingel who flipped it over Ward. Stone was pretty pumped.
over enthusiastic, or properly enthusiastic, Mark Stone? pic.twitter.com/I8LhujNkTZ— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 9, 2016
The first may have been the Sens' period, but the second started all Carolina. Jeff Skinner got them back within one after a series of broken plays in the Sens' zone. Andrew Hammond made a bunch of desperation saves before finally he was enough out of position that Skinner could tuck it home. Jay McClement would then tie it up by powering around Mika Zibanejad shorthanded and then beating Hammond with a shot that he would probably like back.
Late in the period, Carolina would get the chance to take their first lead of the game when Hoffman went off for a puck over the glass penalty. But Zack Smith would continue his season of wonder, scoring his 19th shorthanded by racing into the zone and beating Ward five-hole. The Sens looked relieved escaping the period with a lead.
The Sens' third period looked a lot like this:
The Sens really did spend the whole period essentially turtling in their own zone. The Canes would pull Ward with two minutes left, and Stone and Hoffman each took a turn missing the empty net from centre. With time running out, a series of unfortunate events led to the game being tied. Dion Phaneuf failed to clear the zone, Erik Karlsson failed to pin the puck in the corner, Hoffman missed a block on Skinner, and Skinner buried it off the far post with 0.2 seconds left on the clock. I couldn't feel awful though having witnessed the Sens do the same thing to the Blues just a week ago.
It felt like the Sens got the bulk of the scoring chances in OT, but nobody scored. The game went to a shootout, where Mika Zibanejad managed to score off both posts. Unfortunately for the Sens, both Riley Nash and Jaccob Slavin scored, giving the Canes their first shootout win of the season.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
Nobody really gets a hero nod from such a disappointing outcome, but Stone at least looked good. At this point, giving Stone an up is kind of like crediting oxygen as part of your life or giving Karlsson the Norris: it's obvious. He's just been that good recently.
Dishonourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
We expect the guy to do so much, and so it's disappointing when he doesn't. He really didn't look himself tonight. Just further proves how this team rises and falls with their captain.
I Want To Like Him: Scott Gomez
He had some effective forechecking tonight, and one play led directly to a goal. The problem is that the couple of good plays stick out because I'd say he hasn't been very good most of the time. I guess as long as the Gomez experiment ends in April, I'll be fine.