On Saturday, the Ottawa Senators were simply outclassed by a superior New Jersey Devils team that has now won 13 games in a row. Although Ottawa then headed out west for a four-game road trip, and their matchup against the San Jose Sharks represented a great opportunity to not get into another losing streak. The Sharks came into tonight with the 31st points percentage in the NHL, one of only two teams below the Senators. What’s amazing is they have still been that bad despite Erik Karlsson looking like vintage Karlsson with 30 points in 21 games.
The Senators got off to a fantastic start, as they were outshooting the Sharks 5-0 just a few minutes in. Things seemed to be pointing in the right direction, and then...San Jose scored immediately after. It was a completely disjointed play that began with a Noah Gregor breakaway that hit the crossbar. Shortly after, a Luke Kunin floater was knocked down by Gregor again and he was able to fire it over a fallen-down Travis Hamonic in the slot.
Ottawa didn’t let that get to them though, as they continued to control the play in the first period. They were getting some chances on Kaapo Kahkonen, but it wasn’t until 6:46 left in the period that they would tie the score at one. Brady Tkachuk was able to take advantage of a turnover behind the net, and his pass to Tim Stützle was just enough time for him to score far side:
Not long after that, Alex DeBrincat was able to break through for a 2-on-0 with Derick Brassard. Brassard was a little more ahead than DeBrincat though, and DeBrincat probably thought he wasn’t going to get a proper shot off. Brassard couldn’t bury the play on what would’ve been a quick two goals. Artem Zub and Kevin Labanc traded tripping penalties near the end of the period, but nothing else would come of those powerplays or anything else in the final few minutes. However, Brady Tkachuk, Claude Giroux, and Erik Brännström had some glorious chances.
Despite Ottawa controlling the play, San Jose would retake the lead on a weak goal by Timo Meier on Cam Talbot. Talbot made a few nice saves to begin with, but he cheated a little bit on a second shot from Meier, and the puck barely squeaked past him to make it 2-1 just 1:18 into the second period. It’s not as if the Senators were giving up this early, as Stützle and Tkachuk both had two more phenomenal chances to score and at least one of them should have tied the game on the same shift.
Then not long after almost tying the game, it was Matt Nieto who extended the Sharks lead to 3-1. It was another awkward play where Talbot got sort of spun around by Nick Holden and Nieto tipped a point shot from Matt Benning. Talbot was then pulled from the game in favour of Anton Forsberg not even halfway through the game. It was the second straight game they had pulled their starter, with Forsberg getting pulled on Saturday:
Nieto scores on the redirect 🙌 pic.twitter.com/fdb6jHkvs2— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) November 22, 2022
The hurt would continue, as the second period was a trainwreck. Travis Hamonic took an offensive zone tripping penalty, and the Sharks took advantage with 4:04 left in the period. Artem Zub had an easy lane to ice the puck but elected to try to make a pass, but it got intercepted instead. Ottawa had plenty of chances to get it out, but Tomas Hertl was able to make them pay by tipping a Logan Couture shot from the point. The Senators look dejected during a pathetic period and it was 4-1 after forty minutes.
What’s disheartening is that there was no jump from Ottawa in the third period, either. Three goals are not an insurmountable lead, but they made it seem like it was. Once again, they were able to get some chances late in the game, but you just knew that nothing was going to come of it. Nothing very eventful happened in the final frame except for a last-minute empty-netter courtesy of Couture. It was Ottawa's second straight 5-1 loss...and a new low for them with a 6-11-1 record. I’m very curious to see what changes could occur after this road trip.
- For the second straight game, there are essentially no positive standouts. The first period was quite dominant for Ottawa, and then they just seemed to give up even with the game tied at 1. They produced lots of chances in the first half of the game, but it’s getting tiresome watching them fail to actually produce results. The team identity is simply not there, and I don’t know how they can go on like this without doing anything.
- I can’t remember watching a team where they are this bad at scoring when they need to. Some of it is luck, but we’re 18 games into the season, and the luck excuse isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
- Who to trust: Talbot or Forsberg? Both goalies have been hot and cold, with Talbot sitting at a .909 SV% and Forsberg at a .904 SV%. Both need to be more consistent.
- Karlsson looked incredible once again, and it’s fun to dream about him coming back to Ottawa someday. He had two assists on the night, putting him third in the entire NHL in points (30).
- I need to point out this incredible foot pass by Artem Zub if you haven’t seen it already, because it was one of the few bright spots:/
- Mark Kastelic had a great fan club in attendance to see his fight tonight.
- I hope to see Mathieu Joseph back in the lineup next game because there are plenty of passengers in the bottom-six right now.
- Ottawa’s next game is in Vegas against the Golden Knights—another late start at 10:30 EST./
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