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Pens down Sens 6-3

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Sens fall in an ultimately meaningless game

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports

You’ll have to take my word for it when I say that this recap originally looked very different than what you see below. Like most of you reading this, I had resigned myself to another disappointing mid-season defeat at the hands of the hated Penguins when a Bruce Garrioch tweet floated across my Twitter feed: Dion Phaneuf hadn’t played a single shift in the back half of the second period.

Things moved quickly from there, and as I’m sure everyone is aware by now the biggest news of the night was that the Sens traded Dion Phaneuf to the Los Angeles Kings.

If it’s hard for the amateur bloggers to write a recap with all the surrounding buzz, I can only imagine the strain on the players themselves. They aren’t robots after all. It wasn’t exactly surprising, then, that the Sens mostly rolled over in the third period of a game that they were already trailing. The final score of 6-3 flattered the home team, Ottawa was the better of the two squads through 40 minutes despite the scoreline, but I don’t think anyone will remember the details of this one. I certainly won’t.

For the curious (or the masochistic): the Pens opened the scoring in the first on the power play following a questionable penalty call on a backchecking Mike Hoffman. Say what you will about his overall defensive acumen, but Hoffman is one of only a couple of Sens forwards with the speed to consistently generate backside pressure and occasionally makes spectacular defensive plays. He didn’t deserve this penalty, and on a different night maybe it would be a bigger point of contention. As it is, Jake Guentzel’s 17th of the year will not garner much by the way of controversy.

Aside from a prolonged stretch when the Sidney Crosby line had the Sens pinned, Ottawa carried play in the first. The shot clock favoured the visitors 11-4 and they were full value for that margin. The Sens looked....good.

The strong play carried over into the second frame and they even equalized on a slapshot by Derrick Brassard:

Mike Hoffman got himself a semi-breakaway right off the ensuing face-off but Matt Murray was up to the task and the game remained tied. Still, for a moment we could hope.

After that, as has happened so many times this season already, the Sens fell apart. This time the primary culprit was Mike Condon, who allowed four goals on nine shots and was particularly at fault on Evegni Malkin and Zach Aston-Reese’s tallies. It feels like beating a dead horse, but if there’s one issue that most pressingly needs to be addressed before next season it’s the goaltending. No team can win with the goalie play Ottawa’s received this year.

Colin White’s second of the year before the end of the frame was a brief bright moment but by that time the full Dion trade watch was on.

The third period was a microcosm of where the Sens currently sit as a franchise: sure there was a game happening on the ice, but the more important events were taking place off of it. I won’t waste any more of your time here recapping what essentially doesn’t matter. The Sens couldn’t find it in themselves to claw back into this one. Given their situation, I almost can’t blame them.

Notable Performances:

  • Mark Stone looked great again tonight. He set up Brassard’s goal and generally created havoc in the offensive end all night. A good reminder of just how valuable he is to this team
  • Phil Kessel and Malkin were flying around the ice, preying on turnovers to spring odd man rushes all night long. Pittsburgh is simply terrifying in transition.
  • Craig Anderson didn’t start, but his play in relief kept the game in reach despite the Sens’ struggles in the third

Game Flow:

Shot Chart: