Some games feel like they’re over in the first 10 minutes, and tonight was one of those nights. The Senators were outworked, outshot 12-1, and outscored 2-0 by halfway through the first period. They looked sluggish and slow and not on the same page at all. They did manage to clean things up a bit and make it an interesting game down the stretch, but they couldn’t overcome that start, losing 4-0 in the end to the Hurricanes.
Only one time was ready to start on time, and it wasn’t the Sens. Each team got a shot on goal early. From there, Carolina got another 11 before the Sens got their second. The first goal shouldn’t have been goal because Seth Jarvis was taking up the whole net, and the “push” by Alex DeBrincat was nothing:
DeBrincat did not push Jarvis in any way. Worst allowed goal I've seen. pic.twitter.com/SWWZtEjKqO— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) February 25, 2023
Even if he was pushed in, Jarvis made no effort to get up, so Cam Talbot had no chance on the Brent Burns shot. I think DJ made the right choice in not challenging, because a) the play wasn’t blown dead when the refs could see what was happening, so it was unlikely they’d change their minds, and b) he lost the challenge on a similar play a week ago where his goalie tore both MCLs. It was a sign of things to come, in that the refs missed a board on Ridly Greig by Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and then later Artem Zub got called for the softest cross-check I’ve seen in a while.
That being said, the refs weren’t the Sens’ biggest problem. They couldn’t break out, couldn’t complete a pass, couldn’t get any kind of pressure on Antti Raanta. The second goal for the Hurricanes saw Seth Jarvis walk Travis Hamonic and Cam Talbot to tuck it in after dancing through the whole crease. Talbot didn’t look comfortable to me, struggling to track the puck, and looking stuff coming out of the butterfly. That being said, he did make 16 saves in the period, so credit to him for doing about all the could be asked of him. Other than Julien Gauthier turning on the jets and creating a breakaway chance for himself, the Sens got nothing going. The first period mercifully came to an end, with the Sens actually getting a late powerplay that carried over into the second.
While the first period saw the Sens come out flat-footed, the second saw them struggle. Their powerplay became a 5-on-3 where they couldn’t connect on passes. They then got the next powerplay, and DJ sent a message by starting the second unit, but this one also went without much chance, and again with several bobbled pucks. The Sens were gift-wrapped a chance for their top-notch powerplay to get them back into the game, and they threw it away. The Hurricanes actually had the better of the chances on the Sens’ powerplays, because they couldn’t thread three good passes together in a row. The teams then traded powerplays, but again, Ottawa’s got nothing going.
The best chance of the period came for Alex DeBrincat, who got a breakaway, but Raanta got just enough with his shoulder to put it off the post. There was also a scary moment when Mathieu Joseph got hit with a Burns follow-through and stayed down, but it did seem part of the problem was that he lost a contact lens. He was helped off by a trainer, but came back before the end of the period. It was a decent pushback from the Sens, outshooting the Canes 13-7 in the period, but without a goal, and with just 9.2%* of their passes connecting, it was feeling desperate.
The third period saw the Sens with more chances, including Claude Giroux who somehow beat the puck out of mid-air behind Raanta and all the way across the net without going in. It boggled the mind how that possibly stayed out. The Sens pushed and pushed, and even got a powerplay for their struggles, but failed to score on it. This powerplay at least had some passes connect, so there were chances, but it all came to naught. Just over halfway through the period, Martin Necas put the nail in the coffin with his 23rd (!!) of the season. The Sens would pull the goalie with 5 minutes left, but it was Brady Skjei and the Hurricanes who would get the next goal, and the Sens lost 4-0. The final shot count was actually 32-30 for the Sens, but in the end it still seemed like the lost it in the first 10 minutes.
- Claude Giroux was all over this game, and also seemed agitated. He was advocating for penalties and against penalties, and seemed very frustrated with his misses. I think there’s a fine line between your emotions firing you up and your emotions throwing you off your game, and usually he’s the former. I wonder if he pushed himself into the latter this game. What “hockey men” (TM) call clutching your stick too tight that kind of thing.
- On the one hand, Talbot looked uncomfortable. On the other hand, he held the Sens in a game they had no business being in after the first period. If he looks uncomfortable but does his job, I don’t think I can criticize.
- I noticed significant physicality from our #ShortKings tonight, with both Erik Brännström and Alex DeBrincat using their bodies to take guys off the puck. DeBrincat in particular always impresses me with how he’s able to leverage his smaller frame into takeaways.
- I’m so used to crisp, clean, fast passing on the powerplay, it stuck out tonight just how many times the Sens miscommunicated on passes or had the puck jump over their sticks. For the second time in as many games, the Sens had a lengthy 5-on-3 and didn’t get anything close to a chance. That’s unacceptable. I’d advocate for Giroux to go back on unit one, except he was out there for the 5-on-3, so who knows.
- I’m happy in a way that the opening goal didn’t matter, because it would’ve been real bitter for that to have played a key part in the loss. I’m not sure what the refs want Talbot to do there, but advocating for a goalie getting to his feet when he has sharp blades strapped to them and a guy lying underneath him seems really dangerous. From a player safety perspective alone, that play needs to be blown dead./