Another Blown Lead in Arizona Leads to 5th Straight Loss for Ottawa

The Jacques Martin era starts with a blown 3-0 lead against the Coyotes, giving Ottawa five straight losses

Another Blown Lead in Arizona Leads to 5th Straight Loss for Ottawa
Photo by Dylan Ferreira / Unsplash

Tonight marked the first game for the Ottawa Senators in the Jacques Martin era – or, perhaps more correctly, another Jacques Martin era. After what was an awkward goodbye yesterday, the Senators played their first game without DJ Smith for the since April 2019. They were in Arizona for their fourth of five road games, and with four losses in a row and an 11-15-o record, even just a "dead cat bounce" would have been more than welcome.

Ottawa started well, with rookie Angus Crookshank getting his first career goal. Artem Zub's shot from the point was deflected in front by Crookshank, and you could tell how excited he was to get #1:

Not long after, the Coyotes had some very close chances including a Matt Dumba breakaway, but they weren't able to take advantage. The Senators pounced on their next few opportunities though, as Alex Kerfoot's holding penalty proved costly. Josh Norris made it goals in three straight games with a goal as he whipped a one-timer from the right side, a classic Norris powerplay tally:

Then, just 1:13 later, Dominik Kubalik made it 3-0 on a similar goal to Crookshank's, as he tipped a point shot from Erik Brännström:

The second period somewhat felt like a typical Senators one, although not quite as bad as previous games. Ottawa had some chances to make it 4-0, but it's understandable that a team down 3-0 would be controlling more of the play. Parker Kelly took a holding penalty with 8 minutes left, and although the Coyotes couldn't convert on the powerplay, they scored just 10 seconds after it expired. Jack McBain made it 3-1 on a good passing play at the front of the net, getting them back into the game. But one goal against in the period wasn't the worst thing in the world.

Unfortunately, Ottawa seemed content with sitting back and just hoping the clock would run out in the 3rd period. Mid-way through the final frame, the Coyotes scored back-to-back goals in just 33 seconds thanks to JJ Moser and Clayton Keller. The first one had Ottawa scrambling in the defensive zone, and Moser was wide open on a big rebound at the side of the net. The second one was sad because it was a softie on Joonas Korpisalo that he was not expecting. However, by this point the netminder had kept the Senators in the game up until that point, with Arizona outshooting Ottawa by a wide margin at that point. It was yet another blown lead.

Somehow after all that, the Senators didn't seem to feel like they needed to up the ante, and in fact, they still sat back. It was only a matter of time until the Coyotes took the lead, and that's what they did with 3:33 left. It was an incredibly lucky bounce off Travis Hamonic's skate, but it was a deserved goal for Arizona considering how many chances they had:

Ottawa gave somewhat of a push with Korpisalo pulled, but it was not nearly enough, and they lost yet another game—their fifth in a row. The final score was 4-3 thanks to a subpar effort to hold their 3-0 lead. Not exactly the start Martin was hoping for, and it's back to the drawing board.

Game Notes:

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: it is mind-blowing how mentally fragile this team appears to me. Whenever games get difficult, they seem to implode and can't get out of it. There is no way you should be getting 0 points in a game with a 3-1 lead with 10:46 left. That is just inexcusable.
  • Ottawa is somehow 9-9-0 when they score first. First. It's impressive to be that mediocre with a one-goal lead spotted to you.
  • If there's a silver lining, it's that the players haven't had a chance to practice with Martin yet, so I'm hoping some of his systems and ideas will be more noticeable shortly.
  • Although Korpisalo allowed the ugly third goal, none of the others were his fault at all, and he was stealing the game for them until the last 10 minutes. I've criticized poor performances in other games, but this was not one of them.
  • Crookshank has looked impressive in his first two games. He got his first career goal and also had a team-high four shots, five attempts, three hits, and a 48.39 CF% (fourth on the team) in 11:45 of ice time. I don't care that he's only 5'10, he should be staying in the NHL.
  • I mentioned this on Twitter, and this might be unpopular, but I think Tkachuk really needs to rein it in and not fight or take penalties so much. He's now up to a league-leading 74 PIMs, which is on pace for a whopping 225 PIMs–that would be the most in a single season since Steve Downie in 2014-15. He's a first-line player, and they need him as an offensive threat more than as a tough guy. The occasional fight is fine, but there has to be a balance.

Game Flow:

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