After losing in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes yesterday, Guy Boucher spoke about the need to forget about the past and focus on the present. He won’t be pleased with tonight’s 20 shot effort.
The first period featured a ton of action, as the Sens decided to step on the gas early and draw two penalties: one on Brendan Smith for slashing Mark Stone’s wrist (he was fine) and the other on Kevin Shattenkirk for delay of game. On the ensuing powerplays, the Sens top unit continued to struggle. They appear to get into the zone alright, but have a gameplan that’s easy to plan for: wring the puck around the boards and get your forwards on the half-wall to get the puck to Karlsson at the point. By discarding control of the puck, penalty killers are able to engage the offence in puck battles, and when you have quick forwards like the Rangers do, it’s easy to win some despite being a player down. Really, the only chance on these two powerplays came from Rick Nash, who nearly finished a 2-on-1 shorthanded chance.
The good news? The Sens played pretty well at 5-on-5. The Rangers only had two shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the period, and the best chances went to the Sens, with Mark Stone almost connecting off a back-pass from Ryan Dzingel and Mike Hoffman — who had four of the team’s seven shots this period — hitting another post after Chris DiDomenico gained the offensive zone and fed the puck to Hoffman for the one-timer on the right side.
The Rangers had a powerplay of their own after Johnny Oduya set a pick on Mats Zuccarello in the offensive zone, but the Sens penalty killers — especially Alex Burrows and Mark Borowiecki — did a wonderful job preventing the third-ranked Rangers PP from entering the zone. Again, the best chance seemed to come from the team on the PK, with Hoffman almost tapping in a cross-ice pass from Derick Brassard right after the penalty expired.
Outside of a Boo (!) Nieves net-front shot in the middle of the period, the Rangers best chance came in the final seconds when Chris Kreider picked Bobby Ryan’s pocket behind the Sens goal and fed the puck to Mika Zibanejad, who almost put a wraparound try past Anderson. After one, the shots were 10-7 Rangers, with both teams getting 18 attempts each.
The first half of the second period was terrible for the Sens. The Rangers powerplay got two more chances to run thanks to penalties by Ryan and Brassard, and although the Sens PKers were a lot sloppier defending, they managed to keep New York off the board. This time, however, their luck changed at 5-on-5, with Kevin Hayes getting the game’s first goal five minutes in after Mike Hoffman missed his check.
I took the time to illustrate this because it’s an example of how seemingly innocent plays (a dump-in) can go wrong quick. Claesson, who put up a 36% CF% tonight, was weak on the puck, and although Mike Hoffman could’ve been helped by DiDomenico being more active, an unlucky bounce highlights his missed check and ends up in the back of the Sens net. It was that kind of night.
The Rangers press hard after their goal, but Cody Ceci helps the Sens withstand the pressure with an active stick in the defensive zone. I harp on Ceci a lot, especially when he’s paired with Phaneuf, but the two were >60% CF% tonight to lead all Sens D.
Although the Sens push back in the final 10 minutes and end up outshooting the Rangers 8-7, they don’t generate any real sustained pressure against Lundqvist.
In the third, the Sens end up out-attempting the Rangers to the tune of 24-17, but have 14 of those attempts blocked and only five hit the net. Unfortunately for Ottawa, almost all of their good chances were either blocked by the Rangers or missed the net. Mark Stone had the team’s best opportunity two minutes into the period: he accepted a nice pass in transition from Ceci (!) that fools Ryan McDonagh, but the Rags captain is able to recover in time to put pressure on Stone, who misses the net. Right after, Rick Nash streaked through the offensive zone and through Erik Karlsson, but hit the post.
Later on in the period, Lundqvist stops Derick Brassard with a left-pad save as the ex-Ranger tried to pot a Mark Borowiecki rebound. Unfortunately, the Sens — in full-court press mode — never recovered from sending three players low as the Rangers come back through the neutral zone and the Sens all collapse in front of the net. As Nate Thompson and Borowiecki get crossed-up in coverage, Marc Staal is open to receive a pass from Zuccarello and fires it on net. It’s tipped by Michael Grabner in the high slot and past Craig Anderson, who had no chance on the play and honestly, played really well tonight with a .923 sv%.
Borowiecki, potentially trying to redeem himself, goes in on the forecheck on his next shift and is hit awkwardly by Brendan Smith without the puck and slams his head on the boards hard. After the game, we find out that Borowiecki was unconscious as he lay on the ice, and although he was able to stand up and was helped off the ice, he was diagnosed with a concussion. Smith was given five-and-a-game for interference.
On the ensuing powerplay, the Sens are finally able to set up in the Rangers zone, but only generate one shot on goal and no real high-quality opportunities. By my eye, Boucher never loaded up the top-unit with Brassard, Stone, Hoffman, Duchene, Karlsson and potentially suffered for it.
With three minutes left, Boucher went with an early goalie pull (generally a good move) but it backfires when Dion Phaneuf gets his shot blocked and the Rangers turn the puck over. From his own zone, ex-Sen Mika Zibanejad pots the empty netter to give the Rangers a 3-0 victory.
Although the Sens still have six defenders on the roster with Ben Harpur healthy scratched, expect them to call up another player before Wednesday’s game against the Capitals.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick
Heat Map via Natural Stat Trick