After a couple of blowout losses, the Senators decided to try something new tonight. Unfortunately, that was carrying a lead into the third period but losing for the first time this season. They limited the Stars to just 24 shots on goal, but Anton Forsberg put up a .792 save percentage, the Sens went 0-for-3 on the powerplay while allowing a shorthanded goal, and they lost both Rourke Chartier and Mathieu Joseph during the game, after Vladimir Tarasenko was already a game-time scratch due to a family matter.
If I'd told you before the game that after the first period Anton Forsberg would have a .600 save percentage, you probably would've muttered something about "Not again." Then, if I'd told you that Jake Oettinger had a worse one, you probably would've been surprised. Then, if I'd said Scott Wedgewood had a better one, you'd probably be confused, and then more confused when you saw it was only .750. Somehow, the score was 3–2 Ottawa at the end of the first even though the shots were just 6–5 for the Sens. Ottawa scored on their first two shots of the game, both thanks to heavy screens by the Stars on their own netminder:
Oettinger pulled his groin shortly thereafter, and so finished the game with a .000 save percentage. Scott Wedgewood came in and got hung out to dry during 4-on-4 action, with Giroux allowed to get two whacks and then Josh Norris permitted to tuck in the rebound before a single Stars defender tried to get there.
Funny enough, that also gave Jakob Chychrun three assists in the first period. Of course, the Stars also tallied two of their own. The first was on a horrific defensive breakdown on the penalty kill by the Sens. Play got a little scrambly, and then all four Sens defenders rushed the puck carrier, leaving two Stars wide open in tight. The Stars commentators said it was reminiscent of Atom hockey. Seriously, this is what we mean when we say the team has no defensive structure:
Esa Lindell also scored 10 seconds after the Norris goal. In all, it was a period full of goals and penalties, but with few shots. It was a weird start to a game, but at least Ottawa didn't look totally out of it by the end of the first like the last couple games. In a weird game, we also got one of the weirdest moments I've seen in a long time at the end of the first.
The second period was a little tamer, with each team only scoring one goal. The Sens were first, with Drake Batherson tucking home a rebound, once again when Wedgewood got no defensive support.
The Stars got one back though, shorthanded, on a play where I have no idea what Forsberg was doing. He makes the save, and then opens the five-hole to give Thomas Harley (not to be confused with Joel Hanley, also a Stars player) a chance to score.
So the Sens were still up a goal, and somehow were outshooting a Stars team that looked quite a bit better.
The third period saw Ottawa still outshoot the stars, but Dallas scored the final two goals of the game. First, Miro Heiskanen found a soft spot in the ice to wire home a perfect writers. Then, Matt Duchene put the puck into the crease where Josh Norris tipped it in past his own goalie, with Travis Hamonic on his knees in the crease trying to do the same. In a game in which Ottawa had gotten pretty lucky, they got very unlucky on that play, and it cost them the game. Final score: 5–4 Stars. The third period was deflating, so I don't feel like writing anything more.
- Stützle needs to shoot more. At least four times tonight he elected to make one more pass on the rush, giving up the high-percentage shot in favour of the low-percentage pass (which he succeeded on!) to give a player a worse shot. This reminds me of my frustration with like the 2005–08 Sens, where they kept making another and another and another pass.
- Anton Forsberg should've had two of those goals tonight. You can't win when your goalies don't make saves.
- The Sens can't get set up on the powerplay. It's hard for them to enter the zone, and when they do, they don't know what to do other than force the down-low bumper pass, and if teams block that, they just pass a bit then take an unscreened shot from the point. They tried the same things late with Forsberg pulled. I don't know how they've lost all powerplay instincts from last season.
- If you don't like me ragging on Hamonic, skip to the next bullet point. His problem is that when he makes a mistake, he rushes into making a few more mistakes. One shift, he fell in the offensive zone, and then raced back to straight behind his own net instead of playing defence. #FreeMaxence
- Jakob Chychrun had a questionable moment (shoving Wyatt Johnston in the head), but otherwise looks like he's trying his hardest to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. Thomas Chabot can't return soon enough.
- If Chartier, Joseph, and/or Tarasenko are out even another game, we're gonna see some callups. Maybe we'll see some guys who look better than the bottom six currently does. Maybe it's time to get #CrookedForChristmas? I'd be fine with even just getting Soks.