It doesn’t happen very often that you double an opponent in shots and they quadruple you in goals, but that’s exactly what happened tonight. Roberto Luongo was at his best, earning the Panthers a 4-1 win over the Senators despite a 40-23 shot advantage for the Sens.
It looked like the Sens weren’t quite on time for the game start. It took just 25 seconds for the Panthers to open the scoring. Aleksander Barkov caught Mark Stone flat-footed at the Sens’ blue-line and deked around him, Dion Phaneuf was suddenly defending a two-on-one, Barkov made the proper pass to Jaromir Jagr, and a back-rushing Derick Brassard tipped Jagr’s shot past Craig Anderson. It seemed a pretty uncharacteristic start for the Sens, and as pointed out on the broadcast, it was the 13th time in 18 games the Sens allowed the first goal.
From there, the Sens seemed to take over. The Sens got a bunch of shots, and drew the game’s first penalty when Ryan Dzingel accepted a gorgeous aerial pass from Marc Methot, and used his speed to race in on a partial breakaway. Despite a serious hook from Jakub Kindl, he still managed to hit the crossbar, but the lack of goal led to the penalty call. Ottawa dominated the powerplay, and then the next shift after the powerplay when they kept cycling and shooting but couldn’t score. The powerplay also featured Erik Karlsson going to the front of the net, then staying there for a good 20 seconds while the rest of the unit worked the perimeter.
From there, the game started to feel like when I play NHL Legacy, because just the third shot of the game for the Panthers went in too, a wrister from Jussi Jokinen. Somehow in a game the Sens were dominating, they were down 2-0. Ottawa would continue to run the balance of play in the first period, though Florida got some chances, but with Ottawa outshooting them 15-8.
The second period was more of the same. The Sens outshot the Cats 12-8, but Florida got the only goal of the period. Roberto Luongo made two more grade-A chances. First, Jean-Gabriel Pageau received a cross-crease pass on the powerplay and fired it on net, but somehow Bobby Lu did the splits to cover the goal line and batted it out of the air with his blocker. Second, Dzingel got a clear cut breakaway, but Luongo stayed with him the whole way and made a key save. Jonathan Marchesseault continued his hot start to the year, firing home his ninth goal. He showed all the signs of a player on fire, shooting home a one-timer just above the ice surface into the top corner after the puck fell from about 20 feet and bounced on the ice.
The Sens finally found their way on the board in the third, with Pageau firing the puck in from behind the goal line, off Luongo’s shoulder and into the net. It seemed fitting that the only way to beat him was from a shot that should never go in. The two-goal deficit would be short-lived though. Curtis Lazar hustled back to intercept the pass on what would’ve been a two-on-one, but then whiffed on his attempt to knock the puck away after blocking it. Derek MacKenzie fired the stationary puck on net, and Andy half-saved, but it fell through his five-hold, and Lazar stopped the puck a couple inches past the goal line and swept it out. It was a tough break for Lazar in his first NHL game of the year.
After two-and-a-half periods of pouring it on, that goal seemed to deflate the team. They just couldn’t find the same hustle, and seemed resigned to suffer back-to-back losses for just the second time this season. (Of course, a couple quick whistles in Luongo’s favour may have also had a deflating effect.) And lose they did, by a final score of 4-1.
Sens Hero: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau got the long goal on a fluke chance, but also had a couple other chances that would’ve been goals on most nights. Importantly, he had six shots on goal, and was looking like the dangerous offensive threat the Sens need him to be.
Honourable Mention: Derick Brassard
After scoring last game, he fired another seven shots on goal (and a few others just wide), and looked like a man determined to not go on another lengthy goal drought. If Hoffman and/or Ryan are out long term, the Sens will need that from him.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
I realized I almost never point him out in recaps anymore, mostly because he’s always great. But just to point things out tonight - he played six minutes more than any other Sens player (27:50), was great defensively, wasn’t on for a goal allowed, and kept the puck in the offensive zone for what felt like minutes at a time. He truly is a great player that makes the Sens look dangerous every time he steps on the ice.
Sens Killers: The grizzled veterans
The Panthers have three players born in the 70s, and two of them dominated play tonight. Luongo allowed one fluke goal on 40 shots, and Jagr scored three points. Shawn Thornton? He had a decent scoring chance at one point, too.