The Sens just couldn’t do it, ultimately falling to a red-hot goalie and his just-good-enough team. Taking place on the same day as the Maple Leafs/Red Wings Centennial Classic outdoor game, very few NHL fans even knew this game was going on. However, most Senators fans knew it was a chance to build up a slightly bigger lead for second in the division with many pretty good teams close behind. The loss instead put Ottawa on a three-game losing streak, making their fans just a little more nervous.
Unfortunately, I was on the road when this game started, so I had to catch up using Gamecentre Live. All this to say, forgive me if I missed something huge. The first period was a pretty even affair from what I saw, with the Sens actually looking better but the Capitals holding them to the same number of shots on goal. The best opportunity of the period came with Kyle Turris ringing it off the post.
Turris would make up for it in the second. After winning a faceoff in the zone, Marc Methot held it in at the point. Matt Niskanen missed it in the corner, allowing Ryan Dzingel to make an easy pass to a wide-open Turris in the crease who easily put it home. But with just 20 seconds left in the period, the Caps would get it back. Justin Williams would get a breakaway as a Caps penalty expired, but Mike Condon stopped it. However, the puck would stay loose, and would get sent back to Karl Alzner who ripped home his first of the year.
The third period was where it was at, at least action-wise. It didn’t start great for the Sens. Taylor Chorney fired home his first in 10 months through a Curtis Lazar + Casey Bailey screen. But from there, the Sens got several glorious chances. First, Mike Hoffman hit the post after blowing around Niskanen to create a semi-breakaway. Then Hoffman had another chance, but Braden Holtby skated almost to the blueline to beat him to the puck and take away the opportunity. Bobby Ryan would then give Ottawa a great opportunity by knocking Brooks Oprik to his feet, which led to Orpik taking a retaliation penalty against Ryan 20 seconds later. On the delayed call, Evgeny Kuznetsov decided to slash Turris, giving Ottawa two full minutes of 5-on-3. Unfortunately, the 5-on-3 yielded very little. The Sens had a lot of trouble getting set up, and Hoffman got the only real chances, missing the net once and shanking his shot the other time.
Ottawa would keep pressing, but simply pressing isn’t enough against a goalie as good as Holtby. Ottawa was even outshot in the third period despite needing the goal. When you can’t score on two minutes of 5-on-3, you probably don’t deserve to win the game. And Ottawa didn’t. Final score: Caps 2, Sens 1.
Honourable Mentions: Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel
These three used their speed and smarts to create a number of great opportunities. You knew that if Ottawa managed to get a tying goal, it would be thanks to at least one of these guys.
Sens Zero: Powerplay
They went 0/4 on the night, including the length 5-on-3 I keep ragging on. But more importantly, it didn’t look good. Maybe the Caps played a more aggressive three-man PK than the Sens were used to, but they couldn’t connect on a pass. The team seems to have gone back to a “funnel everything through Karlsson and hope it works” system, and tonight it didn’t.
Sens Killer: Braden Holtby
The only goal he let in he had no chance on. Other than that, he was very alert at breaking up plays, and very adept at stopping chances.
Maybe by 2018