For the third time this season the Ottawa Senators blew a 4-2 lead and lost. Also for the third time this season the Senators gave up over 50 shots. Some have used the supposedly tough schedule for the club's October struggles, but after two days off and a home game against the New York Islanders, the Senators allowed a club record 57 shots.
The Senators started strongly and had some good zone time at the start of the game. That didn't last long and Ottawa would be on its heels for the remainder with some strong Robin Lehner play keeping the score at 0-0. Towards the end of the game, Ottawa would be the beneficiary of some weak goaltending by Evgeni Nabokov allowing Erik Condra and Mika Zibanejad to both score. Ottawa took an undeserved 2-0 lead into the intermission despite being outshot 18-9.
The Islanders scored two quick goals of their own in the second period from John Tavares and Matt Martin to tie the game. However, a few minutes Bobby Ryan scored on a loose puck at the side of the net and soon after that Clarke MacArthur finally scored his first goal as a Senators. There was a bit of a delay to check whether the puck had fully crossed the line but it did. The Islanders pulled to within a goal late in the second thanks to a goal from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and ended the period on a 5-on-3. Shots were incredibly 43-18 for the Islanders at this point.
Ottawa killed off the two man disadvantage at the start of the third period but couldn't hold the lead much longer after the Islanders leading goal Frans Nielsen was left alone. The Senators actually managed to play relatively close with the Islanders after that and the shots were 10-9 for the Islanders in the third and 4-4 in overtime. Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Bobby Ryan all missed on their shootout attempts, while Nielsen scored on his, giving the Islanders a well deserved victory.
Sens Hero: Robin Lehner
He allowed four goals but he also managed to save 93% of the shots. For whatever reason this team becomes incredibly awful when Lehner is playing. He was faced 174 shots in 239 minutes of hockey or 44 shots on average per 60 minutes. Lehner is not just facing a lot of shots but a lot more difficult shots than the ones faced by Craig Anderson. Lehner has faced 46 shots while shorthanded and saved an incredible 45 of them. Anderson in far more games has faced only 48 shorthanded shots and saved 40 of them.
Lehner wasn't without his good fortune with the Islanders twice hitting the post, with the second one hitting the post onto Lehner but staying out of the net. Still, he made an absurd amount of saves to steal the team a point.
Honourable mention: Kyle Turris
5-on-5 shot attempts were 68-42 for the Islanders. They were 22-20 for the Islanders when Kyle Turris was on the ice and 46-22 when he wasn't on the ice. In terms of shots on net, they were 15-13 for the Islanders with Turris on the ice and 26-10 with Turris off. He also had a team high five shots and his line with Ryan and MacArthur was some what decent, which is high praise for tonight.
Sens Zero: Everyone else
It was such an unbelievably bad performance. 57 shots allowed. 57. That's after slowing them down in the third period.
Sens Zero: Paul MacLean
It's one thing to try strange things in practice. But to try them in the game and see them blow up that badly in your face and to wait a full two periods before changing it? I don't know what that is. Is it stubbornness? Not wanting to admit he made a bad decision? Jason Spezza's line with Chris Neil and Cory Conacher didn't have an attempted shot in the first two periods during 5-on-5 play. Almost everything he changed was a disaster.
The defence was all pretty bad but Jared Cowen in particular was bad. And yet Cowen played the second most even strength ice time of any defenceman, just four seconds behind Chris Phillips.
Look at the ice times tonight and there were some real head scratchers. Chris Neil had the seventh most ice time by Senators forwards. Colin Greening actually had a pretty decent game for once and played only 11:19.
Everyone knows there are a ton of things wrong right now, so let's try to look at some positives:
- There are 69 games left. We are 5 points out of a playoff spot.
- The Senators are averaging three goals a game and getting plenty of shots most nights.
- Erik Karlsson is having a few struggles, but he is also a point per game now and is tied for the NHL lead in points by a defenceman with 13.
- Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris are both at 12 points in 13 games and playing very well together.
- Clarke MacArthur finally scored a goal.
- Jason Spezza is also at 12 points despite some awful linemates this season. He has struggled defensively but there is hope.
- Craig Anderson isn't currently at his best, but Robin Lehner has been lights out this season.
- There aren't a lot of positive signs to look for defensively, but the club does have some assets (goaltending, forwards) they can trade for defensive help if Bryan Murray deems it necessary.
- If Murray does not want to make a trade, or is unable to make one due to financial limitations, then it is possible that Cowen and the others improve with experience. Young players are the most likely to benefit from more games.
- There are 69 games left.