Consistency eludes Sens in 4-1 loss to 'Canes
The game started out great. Jason Spezza scored an early goal based on some hard work from Mika Zibanejad. The Senators carried the play for much of the period and Robin Lehner, deservedly earning the start with an outstanding performance last night, played big. The Carolina Hurricanes were also coming off a game the previous night, and mired in a losing streak, were an ideal candidate to pounce on.
Early into the second period, Jordan Staal dug a puck out of the corner, and fed Patrick Dwyer, who beat Robin Lehner over his far shoulder to tie the game at one apiece. After that, things slowly started to turn. Canes goalie Cam Ward hadn't played much this year, and hadn't played great in his starts, so you just knew that was going to turn around when the Senators rolled into down. It did, and Ward didn't allow another goal for the rest of the game.
The Canes, however, would score three more. Their second of the night was the result of a missed shot by Erik Karlsson. Karlsson's shot came with enough force to turn it into a breakout pass-for the Canes. It's one of those things that make you love Karlsson--the shot was pure wickedness. It sucks that it didn't hit the net, and it's unfortunate that it careened around the boards, so the miss is not a criticism of Karlsson's play. Anyway, thinly-veiled Sens Killer Eric Staal scooped up the puck and charged up the ice. He found a streaking Tuomo Ruutu, who had beaten Milan Michalek. Ruutu was able to beat Lehner cleanly. It was essentially a one-on-one matchup, and Lehner lost. Perhaps he was caught off-guard by how quickly the play developed, but it was a stoppable goal.
The third goal of the period came on a power play, with Chris Phillips off in the box for cross-checking. Eric Staal was given all kinds of space for his zone entry until Jared Cowen finally walled him off and forced him around the back of the net. However, on the other side of the ice, Staal would get a cycle going, and Elias Lindholm would pick up the puck, walk in, and rip a wrist shot over Lehner's right shoulder. That would make it the third goal scored over Lehner's right shoulder in the period. Lehner's right shoulder is currently the worst player on the team.
Staal would add an empty net goal, but this game was lost in the second period. It's especially disappointing because at the start of the game it looked like the Senators would carry over their impressive play from last night. But this team seems determined to find the hard way of doing things this season, and tonight was no exception. The game wasn't lost in any big moments, it slipped away in a series that the team just couldn't quite get a handle on.
Sens Zero: Coaching Staff
Much like the game, the staff doesn't get this dubious distinction for any one play. I'm not one to sit here from my soft leather throne and second guess a guy who's been recognized as one of the best coaches in the league for two years in a row. But at some point, you have to look at the results, and the way this one just kind of slipped away from an ideal road start has to fall at the feet of the coaching staff. To me, that's a reflection of preparation. This was a tired team facing a tired team. The Senators should have been able to suck the life out of the game and grind out two points. They didn't, and in a game like this, I look to the staff before I look to the players.
Dishonorable mention: Robin Lehner
That said, it really would have been great if Lehner played like he did last night.
Sens Killer: Cam Ward
Or if Lehner played like Cam Ward.
Sens Killer: Eric Staal
I hate Eric Staal. I hate all of the Staals.
Extra Dishonorable Mention: Kevin Westgarh
Checked Mark Boroweicki from behind when he was already down. Boarding is never a fun penalty, but this hit was totally uncalled for. It won't get any discipline, but it should. Borowiecki missed the rest of the game and might miss more time. His current status is unknown. It's a good thing the Senators have a deep defensive corps that can withstand the loss of one of its more consistent players... right?
Highlights (oh man)