New York Islanders Continue the Ottawa Senators' Woes, Beat Them 5-2
A recap of the January 22 game between the Sens and Isles.
Anything was going to be better than last night. After allowing five goals in the first period en route to a loss against the Devils, Senators fans were hoping for a better showing tonight against the Islanders. They got one, but in a way it was almost demoralizing. The Sens were actually in the game for two periods, only to drop off in the third period.
Mark Borowiecki started the game going for the team with a lively fight against Matt Martin. I'm not a huge fan of staged fights, but I think this one served as an emotional release for the team after their flattest game of the year. Ottawa actually started off pretty well, but an early holding call against Erik Karlsson sent the Isles to the game's first powerplay. Nick Leddy rifled one home from the point to give them the early lead. The rest of the period was pretty even, but the Isles took the lead into the first intermission.
The second period was a great one for Ottawa, outshooting the Isles 18-10. Martin took a tripping penalty three seconds into the period (have you ever seen that happen?), and though the Sens couldn't score on the powerplay, they scored two seconds after it expired. Bobby Ryan fired home his sixteenth of the season. That gives Ryan five points in his last four games, a mini-hot streak just with the all-star break approaching. Not long after, Erik Karlsson fired home his tenth of the season, giving him five-straight seasons with double-digit goal totals. That also gave Karlsson six points in his last four games. It was Ottawa's first lead in what felt like weeks, but they actually held the lead entering the third period against the Sharks two games ago. It was very short-lived though, as off the ensuing face-off the Isles dumped it in. Max McCormick threw the puck straight up the slot, and the Islanders crashed the net. Cal Clutterbuck eventually ended up shovelling home the puck, stopping the Sens' lead at 19 seconds.
In the third period, the Sens looked like a team that was gassed from the night before. The final shot count for the period was 14-4 for the Islanders, but I can't even remember four shots by the Sens. It took just three minutes for Travis Hamonic, newly returned from injury, to shoot the Isles into the lead. Four minutes later, John Tavares potted a goal that essentially put the game away. Mark Stone pulled a fantastic series of moves to nearly bring the Sens back within one, but Jaroslav Halak reached back and caught the puck just before the goal-line. By the time the puck hit Kyle Okposo in front and fell into the net to extend the lead to three, the game felt like it had been over for a long time.
The Sens now have earned eight points in ten games in 2016. They have one regulation win in that span. This team just doesn't look very good, and if Kyle Turris is out for much longer, things could get much worse. Here's hoping the team can at least split their last two games before the all-star break, and can take advantage of some much-needed rest to heal up for a stretch run.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
A goal and an assist puts him firmly back in the Eastern Conference lead, three ahead of Evgeny Kuznetsov. He seemed to be trying to get things done tonight, even if not much worked for the team.
Dishonourable Mention: The fourth line
Shane Prince, Max McCormick, and Chris Neil did not have a good game. On the ice for two goals against, worst possession numbers on the team, and just looked out of sync. I didn't think Zack Smith was that much of a key player on that line, but you could make the argument. Almost nobody had a good game tonight, so there are no clear zeroes, but the fourth line had a noticeably bad night.
Sens Killer: Travis Hamonic
Of course he would return against the Sens and then put up two points, upping his totals for the season by 25%.