On a snowy night in Ottawa, the Senators looked to provide the fans that weathered the storm just a tiny bit of warmth.
For about 28mins, they looked well on their way to doing so. Their forecheck was relentless, Anders Nilsson looked unbeatable, and a good Carolina Hurricanes team appeared tired and frustrated.
Then, in a span of ten minutes, everything fell apart. The Senators took sloppy penalties, and their shorthanded play was atrocious, allowing Carolina to score four goals and take the contest 4-1.
Ottawa was outshot 15-5 in the third, and Curtis McElhinney cruised to his 14th win of the season.
The game began in a quieter, emptier CTC than usual, due to the massive snowstorm currently blasting the Ottawa area. The Senators, appropriately decked out in their white jerseys for some reason, had a good chance early. Colin White’s shot was saved by Curtis McElhinney, and the rebound was almost jammed home by Brady Tkachuk, but the puck just failed to squeak under the Carolina netminder.
The Hurricanes had a solid opportunity of their own just two minutes later, when Nino Niedereitter took the puck off of Mark Borowiecki to the left of Anders Nilsson, and made a beautiful centring pass to Justin Williams. Nilsson stood tall, though, keeping his team from falling behind early.
The Canes began to establish possession, as they so often do. Most of the game from this point on, for the next 10mins or so, was played between the Ottawa net and the red line. Carolina wasn’t necessarily generating high-percentage chances, but they controlled the flow of play and the Sens struggled to build up offensive momentum.
That changed 12:09 in, when Ottawa finally gained the Carolina zone. Cody Ceci’s point shot was deflected by Mark Stone, and McElhinney made the save, but he bounced the puck up in the air. Stone made a phenomenal play to bat the rebound into the Canes’ net, and open the scoring for the Senators.
The sensational display of hand-eye coordination was Stone’s fourth goal in the last three games, and made it 1-0 Ottawa.
The Sens had a golden opportunity to expand on the lead when Niedereitter took a penalty, but couldn’t generate anything on an anemic powerplay. Everyone in the NHL, AHL, CHL, ECHL, NFL, ACL, and probably ADL have figured out that stupid drop pass play, and it simply doesn’t work. At some point, there has to be a coaching adjustment.
The first period came to a conclusion with the Sens being outshot 12-7, but leading 1-0.
The Hurricanes had a couple quick chances to begin the second frame. Andrei Svechnikov made a great feed to Jordan Martinook, who was in all alone on Nilsson, but the Ottawa goaltender stood tall and made a huge save.
After that, the Senators took control. There was a wild scramble at the Carolina net, and it somehow found its way back to the point. Dylan DeMelo’s shot went off the skate of Jean-Gabriel Pageau and in, but Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour challenged the play. Upon further review, it was revealed that there was a distinct kicking motion, and just like that, the score went back to 1-0.
Despite the tough break, the Sens kept their foot on the gas. Six minutes into the period, Tkachuk made an unreal diving play to direct a Thomas Chabot cross-ice pass to the net, but McElhinney came up big with a massive save.
The next little while was fairly pedestrian. Neither team generated any big-time chances, but both had their opportunities while not generating much in the way of time on attack.
Perhaps the best chance of the game came on a Hurricanes powerplay, generated by a 10/10 dive by Svechnikov. Teuvo Teravainen had all day at the side of the goal, but Anders Nilsson came across the crease to make what may have been the save of the game.
The Senators took their 1-0 lead to the third, now only down 22-21 in the SOG column.
The effort that had put them in control of the game was nowhere to be found for Ottawa to begin the third. Just 16 seconds into the frame, horrible defensive play landed the puck on the stick of Michael Ferland in front of the goal. With Christian Jaros and Mark Borowiecki inexplicably nowhere to be found, Ferland had all kinds of time to bury his 15th of the year and tie the game.
This one was just ugly.
The Hurricanes didn’t let up, as they began to take control of the game with eight shot attempts in rapid succession. The pressure put on the Sens would come to fruition, as Thomas Chabot was called for another trip that was, again, glaringly embellished.
The Senator penalty kill, shocking as it may be, only served to send them further downhill. Cody Ceci made a strange, wild stick swing that caught Nino Neidereitter on the chin, sending #5 to box with a double-minor, and putting the Sens down 5on3.
Overwhelmed, and outgunned, it was only a matter of time before Justin Williams rifled a beautiful shot bar down on Nilsson to give Carolina the lead.
The Captain gets it done pic.twitter.com/g25rmFQk1Z— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) February 13, 2019
Why Harpur and Boro were the tandem killing the penalty is anyone’s guess, but either way, 2-1 Canes.
The bleeding didn’t stop there either. With Ottawa still shorthanded, Ferland found Teravainen alone in front of the goal (are you sensing a theme here?), and he made no mistake on his 35th of the year to put the Hurricanes up by two.
Three goals in 8:47, and things have completely unravelled.
Ottawa almost got back into the game a few minutes later, but Ryan Dzingel couldn’t beat McElhinney after a great pass from Matt Duchene, and the score remained 3-1.
Teravainen would put the finishing touches on this one, after Ferland picked off a terrible pass from Mark Stone, and set him up for his second-straight goal.
After 40mins of solid play and promise, the Senators had completely collapsed, and they ultimately fell to Carolina 4-1.
Defensive gaffes, and horrible special teams gave way to a four-goal third period for Carolina, and Ottawa gave away a game that was well in hand.
The Sens will head on the road for the next four games, taking on the Red Wings in Motown on Thursday night.
- Despite the awful turnover on the fourth goal, Mark Stone was again Ottawa’s best player. He was all over the ice, hunting down pucks like a dog on a bone, and he deserved better tonight.
- Anders Nilsson deserved better too. Sure, a four-goal third period doesn’t look great on any goaltender’s resume, but Nilsson was a rock all game until his team hung him out to dry. It’s hard to play goalie shorthanded, especially when two of the three guys in front of you are Ben Harpur and Mark Borowiecki.
- Ryan Dzingel quietly had a good night. No points, but he used his speed effectively to generate chances, and him and Matt Duchene have some obvious chemistry. It’s going to be rough if we don’t get to see those two together anymore.
- This team’s blue-line is bad. Like, really bad. Wolanin needs to get healthy and be called up, because they need all the help they can get.