After a terrible and frustrating game against the New Jersey Devils last night, fans were hoping tonight’s outing against the Capitals would yield better results. Both teams were playing the second of back to back games, and a slow start was expected from both sides.
Mike McKenna got the start tonight with rookie Marcus Hogberg serving as the backup on the bench. Things didn’t start the right way with Brett Conolly making it 1-0 Caps on a beautiful deflection less than 2 minutes into the first period. As the period went on, the play started to balance out with the Sens looking more comfortable in both zones. McKenna has become a feel-good story in Ottawa and his performance in the first period just elevated his cause. As the Sens were getting more chances, McKenna was making sure that he was covering up on his part. He made three highlight saves including a beautiful glove save that will surely make the rounds on the highlight reels tonight. The Sens were on the power play for 30 seconds when Colin White took a hooking penalty while trying to keep the play alive. This really became the theme of the game where the Sens just couldn’t finish on any good opportunities. Although the Sens looked like the more energetic team for most of the period, with less than 4 minutes left Niskanen made it 2-0 on another perfect deflection. The period ended with the Senators outshot 14-13 but overall a pretty even period by both teams. There were two things for sure after this first period: a) Mike McKenna was determined to get the win and b) Alex Ovechkin really wanted to score his 30th goal before Christmas. Spoiler alert: neither happened.
The second period was looking promising for the Sens, but with no real dangerous shots on net, they were not getting rewarded. The legendary puck thief Mark Stone was somehow stripped by Jakub Vrana who made no mistake to make it 3-0. This game was already looking like a hopeless cause for the Sens. The Caps speed and transition game was just too much for the Sens to handle especially with their zero luck kind of night. While this was in no way McKenna’s fault, I was wondering if Boucher would put in Hogberg for a little excitement. Things went from bad to ugly when Cody Ceci attempted to block a shot that ended bouncing off his knee into the net. The game was starting to look like it was going to be a home run for Washington and any comeback would probably fall under the miraculous category. The Sens got some good chances and seemed to play with a lot more jump, but nothing was going in for them. The refs couldn’t even get a blatant high stick call on Tkachuk right. A deflating second period ends at 4-0 with the Sens out-shooting the Caps 25-24.
The third period was as frustrating as the previous two periods. The Caps looked content with the 4-0 lead, and at times the Sens looked like they had given up. A few chances here and there did nothing for any potential comeback attempts, and the Caps ran away with their shutout win. The two highlights of the period were a helmetless Tkachuk and solid hit on Wilson by Tkachuk as well. In all fairness, the score didn’t fairly reflect the efforts of the Sens, and while the Sens were guilty of not getting in enough shots right on net, they did not deserve the shutout embarrassment. At least the Sens outshot the Caps?
Mark Stone didn’t have a great game by his standards but he certainly turned up the heat in the third reminding everyone that he is the most valuable asset on the team. There were too many floaters on the Sens tonight including Bobby Ryan, Magnus Pajaarvi and Mikkel Boedker; this team desperately needs some accountability.
- Mike McKenna’s first period: even though he let in 2 goals, he actually played extremely well in that period making around 3-4 spectacular plays. His play in the second wasn’t as stellar, although it would be hard to put much blame on him for the loss.
- Nick Paul: while I’m not as big a fan of Paul as many Sens fans are, other than a few penalties he had a very solid game. It’s becoming very clear that he deserves a roster spot a lot more than Tom Pyatt.
- Colin White: he looked like a man on a mission but unfortunately just like the rest of the team, he couldn’t seem to find the back of the net or really come close to it.
- Thomas Chabot: our young phenom continues to stand out with his skating abilities and calmness, but no finish tonight.
A nice long break filled with cheer and good thoughts until the Sens come along to destroy our souls against the New York Islanders on Friday night.