After a much-needed week off in their schedule, the Ottawa Senators returned home to play the Washington Capitals once again in a game that was essentially a must-win after three straight losses. However, everyone knew it was not going to be easy against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Although the first few shifts looked pretty good for Ottawa, it was Washington who struck first. TJ Oshie’s lightning quick shot easily beat Mike Condon on a 3-on-2 rush; taking the excitement out of the building.
Round number accomplishment alert: Nicklas Backstrom registers his 500th career assist on TJ Oshie goal pic.twitter.com/L3Nd2VXBZz— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 8, 2017
The rest of the period was uneventful, with the Senators not being able to score on the only power play in the 1st. The Capitals had some good chances, although surprisingly the Senators had more attempts at 21-13.
The 2nd period saw Ottawa doing everything they could to respond. Early on, Erik Karlsson nailed a shot off the cross-bar that somehow stayed out, and the play was constantly in Washington’s zone.
On their second power play of the night, they had the best puck movement in the offensive zone that I have seen in a while. Despite their best efforts through 40 minutes, they could not tie it up thanks in large part to the terrific play of Braden Holtby, and some bad luck from Ottawa’s perspective.
After two periods, the attempts were 45-31 for Ottawa, and it was beginning to feel like one of those nights where nothing they try works. It was not for a lack of effort; it’s just that sometimes things don’t always go your way, as the game against the New York Rangers a few weeks ago showed.
With 20 minutes to go, Ottawa was faced with some real adversity.
It seemed inevitable that at some point the Senators would tie it up. The only thing is, when Braden Holtby is on his game, he’s one of the best in the league.
The 3rd period was not Ottawa’s best of the night, but they still deserved to get a goal somehow. When Karl Alzner got a cross-checking penalty on Mark Stone with under nine minutes to play, it looked like the Senators had their golden opportunity.
Instead, they never really got a great chance, and the Capitals killed off their final penalty of the night.
In the dying minutes of the game, Ottawa threw everything they had at Holtby. Once again though, none of their chances were can’t miss plays, so Washington deserves some credit for keeping the shots to the outside.
At the same time, it felt like one of their shots would eventually go in. Karlsson, Stone, Hoffman, Dzingel, and others all had chances, but luck was not on their side. The Capitals could not put the game away with an empty-netter, so the game was there for the taking until the bitter end, but the Senators ended up catching no breaks.
The final score, Washington 1, Ottawa 0.
It was another frustrating night that puts Ottawa on a four-game losing streak at a time during the season where every game begins to have serious playoff implications.
If you’re looking for a silver lining though, the Senators were the better team tonight. In all four of their losses, they have had more attempts on net than their opponent, so it seems like their play is trending upwards, even if the results are not always there.
I think it’s safe to say that tomorrow’s game vs. Edmonton is another must-win, as this losing streak cannot get any bigger.
Can’t really give this to anyone when nobody scored. However...
Honourable Mention: Sens Best Players
I can give out plenty of honourable mentions, though. I can’t single out one player, but Ottawa’s top guys were dominant tonight, even though the goals did not come. Mark Stone (+29 in corsi), Derick Brassard (+20), Mike Hoffman (+19) and Erik Karlsson (+19) were in the Capitals zone almost the entire night, and that’s encouraging to see.
The depth players were not quite as successful as usual, but at least there were 11 players above 50% in possession, and seven above 60%. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the small victories.
Sens Killer: Braden Holtby
There’s only one answer for this, and it’s Braden Holtby. He didn’t have many spectacular saves, but you have to give him credit for not making a single mistake through 60 minutes. 30 saves on 30 shots is impressive, and he was the reason why the Capitals walked out of the game with two points.
Sens Zero: Puck Luck
Come on, seriously? Just give us one break, that’s all we needed.