After falling to the New Jersey Devils in overtime last night, Paul MacLean made three lineup changes ahead of his team's game against Chicago: Craig, Anderson, Erik Condra and Colin Greening drew back in, youngsters Robin Lehner, Mark Stone and Curtis Lazar were out. Special teams dominated the first period. Each team went to the box four times in the period, disrupting lines. Ottawa's penalty kill did a good job neutralizing Chicago's big guns with the man-advantage but it was Craig Anderson who impressed most, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the period. The period ended without goals, shots 17-12 in favour of Chicago.
The second period began 4-on-4 and the tie was quickly broken by Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. He scored 20 seconds into the period on a wraparound after both Anderson and Erik Karlsson had committed to one side of the net. A couple of minutes later, Brent Seabrook hit Andrew Shaw with a breakout pass. As Shaw broke through the Ottawa line, Patrick Wiercioch and Chris Phillips hacked at the Chicago winger. Shaw was awarded a penalty shot, but Craig Anderson turned it aside.
The Sens got a break when the ref got in the way of a puck along the boards in the Ottawa zone. Hawks centre Brad Richards was incredibly upset and made little attempt to play the puck or race back and break up the play. Fortunately Sens winger Alex Chiasson seized the opportunity, picked up the loose puck, and led Ottawa on a 3-on-1. Chiasson showed excellent patience waiting out Brent Seabrook and sent a backhand pass to Milan Michalek who buried it for his first of the year. Penalties were on issues for the Senators in the second; consequently, the Hawks had a lot of offensive zone time and notched a second goal, courtesy of Seabrook. Ottawa's tough second periods continued; the Sens were outshot 17-5 in the second. The period ended 2-1 in favour of the Hawks.
Ottawa began the third on an abbreviated power play, but were unable to convert. The Sens did, however, manage to avoid the penalty box during the period (except for one Clarke MacArthur minor) and were able to pressure the Hawks for much of the second half of the period because of that and because Chicago sat back on its lead. Unfortunately, the Senators were unable to get another goal past Chicago-native Scott Darling, who was making his first NHL start. Despite beating the Blackhawks on the shot scoreboard in the third, 16-11, the Sens came up short. Final score: 2-1 in favour of Chicago. Shots: 45-33 in favour of Chicago.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
He didn't look great on Toews' wraparound goal, but Anderson still stopped 43 of 45 shots tonight (95.6 Sv%) and kept his team in the game. If the Sens are going to continue to give up this many shots, he's going to have to keep playing this well.
Honourable Mention: Alex Chiasson
Chiasson showed good hustle to get to the puck after the ref interfered with the play on Ottawa's first goal, but it was his patience and backhand pass to Michalek that showed real skill. He was also robbed by Darling in the first period on the PP.
Honourable Mention: Milan Michalek
He showed some speed when he jumped up into the play and joined Chiasson and Eric Gryba on a 3-on-1. His shorthanded marker was his first of the year.
Sens Zero: The Defense
I could have picked out several Sens blueliners to single out for poor play, but this seemed easier. They were just bad. Something needs to change.
Sens Killer: Scott Darling
The rookie netminder was effective and shut the door on the Sens late-game push. In his NHL debut he stopped 32 of 33 shots (97.0 Sv%). Not bad.
Shot Chart via ESPN:
Natural Stat Trick's Game Flow: