Ottawa Senators Lose 7-2 to Florida Panthers Despite 58-30 Shot Advantage

Please god let Anton Forsberg be healthy next season.

There's no analysis necessary for this game, beyond marveling at the goaltending (or lack thereof depending on which team you cheer for) on display. That's the only reason the Ottawa Senators fell to the Florida Panthers by a 7-2 score tonight. Given the state of both clubs, you'd assume the Panthers were the team to get 58 shots but you'd be wrong. A very strange game, all in all.

Claude Giroux and Ridly Greig scored the goals for Ottawa, while the Panthers' top performers were Aleksander Barkov and Brandon Montour, both of whom had two-goal performances.

The beginner's luck ran out for Leevi Merilainen in his second NHL start, as the 20-year-old netminder allowed 3 goals on just 12 shots, putting the Sens down 3-0 early in the second period. Mads Søgaard didn't do much better in relief, as he saw 4 pucks go past him on the 18 shots he faced.

Meanwhile, Florida goalie Alex Lyon made several quality stops, frustrating the Sens at every turn, be it on the power-play or even-strength.

With this regulation loss, the Senators fall to 37-35-7, and with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders winning tonight, Ottawa's playoff odds have dropped to absolute zero. Though I personally felt the loss to Vancouver a few weeks back was realistically when their hopes were dashed.  

Player of the Game:

When the top players aren't up to the task of putting pucks in the net, it makes it much easier to give a depth guy some credit. Mark Kastelic won the game's first two faceoffs, made a couple of strong defensive plays, and stood up for Artem Zub in a third-period fight, which got the former ejected. He also fought Givani Smith in one of the funniest tilts I've ever seen. Being a bigger guy Kastelic wants to throw Smith around before landing a few good punches, but the momentum from the initial struggle throws them into the spin cycle.

Notable Performances:

  • All 3 goals allowed by Merilainen were poor. A couple of pucks squeaked through him, and he was pretty much a stationary obstacle on Barkov's 2-0 marker on the power-play:
  • Always beware of small sample sizes when evaluating goaltenders. Expecting consistent goaltending from Søgaard and Merilainen is unfair to the two of them due to their age. Both are eligible to play in Belleville for at least two more years without being placed on waivers.
  • Oddly enough, it's hard to call out any member of the defense corps for having a bad game, as the team didn't give up many chances with any of them on the ice. Jacob Bernard-Docker and Tyler Kleven have been steady, and Kleven came close to his first NHL goal twice. He rang a slapshot off the post in the third period, and just before Giroux's tally, he made an impressive rush to the front of the net, just barely losing the puck in the end.
  • Ridly Greig's production has been good to see. His goal tonight brings him up to 9 points in 20 games, which is a good sign he'll be able to be a strong contributor on a third line next season.


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Up Next:

  • Next up is the Tampa Bay Lightning, thankfully at home, on Saturday, April 8th at 7:00 pm EST.

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