After 12 straight starts, Wednesday's off day was much needed for Craig Anderson. It was also much needed for Sens fans.
Whether you're a casual fan, blogger or a diehard, if you tuned in on Tuesday night as the Senators were in Sunrise to battle the Panthers, you might've had a bit of mixed feelings after the game.
Sure, Ottawa won, and no one was unhappy with the result, but the coaching decisions - one in particular that had Mark Borowiecki replacing Mike Hoffman on the first line - left some wondering if the team was in good hands. But we all took a breather, gave it a day and met back at the arena on Thursday.
But Shane Prince was still a healthy scratch. And Borowiecki was still a forward.
But we all must soldier on.
To the game!
The Senators absolutely dominated the first period, and by the end of 20 minutes, they were leading 17-5 in the Corsi department. But the first frame didn't end before they would go down one to the Lightning.
With just over a minute left, Chris Wideman and Borowiecki each took minor penalties on the same play, something you don't see very often, but nonetheless, Ottawa was down two for two minutes.
After a great 60 seconds on the penalty kill, Jean-Gabriel Pageau saw a bit of a break and while trying to waste time, lost the puck after holding on for too long. The Lightning raced down on a 4-on-2 and Nikita Kucherov wired a slap shot over the shoulder of a hung-out-to-dry Anderson.
Kucherov goal pic.twitter.com/9EjyEs50PC— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 11, 2015
All the focus was on Pageau after the goal, but not on Borowiecki hanging his head exiting the box and Wideman feeling shame as he stayed put.
In the second period, Craig Anderson was his usual stellar self stopping all 11 shots he faced, many of them dangerous scoring chances. Unfortunately, Anderson's counterpart was even better.
Ottawa benefitted from two power plays in the frame, but despite their best efforts and some phenomenal puck movement, the Senators couldn't get any past 8 foot 9 monster Ben Bishop (please don't check those measurements, just trust me).
So it was up to the Pesky Sens going into the third period. They did not fare well right off the bat.
25 seconds into the third period, Anderson let a big rebound catapult into the slot and Valtteri Filppula banged home his third of the season into a fairly wide open net.
But Anderson's gaff wasn't the worst of the period.
Halfway through the final frame, Jared Cowen skated back for a puck in the Senators' end with Kucherov on his tail. Cowen fumbled the puck and Kucherov took it away with ease as he headed to the net uncontested and would sneak his second goal of the game past the left leg of Anderson.
There would be no shutout for the Senators' former netminder, though.
On a delayed penalty, Mark Stone fed extra-attacker Bobby Ryan who set up Cody Ceci for the Senators' first and only goal of the game. Ceci rifled a snap shot over Bishops' left shoulder and that's as close as Ottawa would get.
It wasn't all doom and gloom, though.
Mark Stone is top-10 in assists.— Ryan Classic (@ryanclassic) December 11, 2015
The Lightning would add an empty netter.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
Stone had his typical great game. He was forcing turnovers everywhere on the ice, creating good scoring chances for himself, but what was most impressive was his ability to set up his teammates. Currently on a line lacking speed with Mika Zibanejad and Zack Smith, Stone was the glue keeping the trio together tonight.
Sens Zero: Dave Cameron (Again)
It's gone on for too long.
This is the second straight game Borowiecki has played as a forward, while Prince has sat in the press box. Let's just examine that to it's bare essentials so we can truly grasp what exactly is going on.
On a team currently without two offensive talents in Milan Michalek and Clarke MacArthur, Shane Prince - a player with obvious top-six talent - is a healthy scratch over arguably the Senators' seventh defenseman.
I want to make it brutally clear what is going on.
Maybe the worst defenseman on the Senators is taking over for an offensively gifted player, not bumping him down a line, but completely erasing him from the lineup. In turn, this also has Zack Smith on the second line and making a mockery of Ottawa's depth chart.
As far as I'm concerned, this loss is not on the players. You know who it's on.