Despite icing a lineup that should closely resemble their roster for opening night, the Ottawa Senators failed to click in the second game in as many nights against the Florida Panthers and lost by a final score of 2-1. Ottawa's lone goal was a powerplay marker, with Chris Phillips putting in a rebound with assists to Jonathan Cheechoo and Mike Fisher. Florida goals came from Jordan Leopold and Dmitry Kulikov. Goaltenders Brian Elliott and Mike Brodeur split time in the Ottawa net, each allowing one of Florida's goals.
On an individual level, players demonstrated good play, but the team couldn't seem to gel together. It's probably to be expected after the changes brought this off-season, but it's one of the main challenges for Cory Clouston this season. Alex Kovalev looked simply awesome; he led Ottawa forwards in ice time and showed a lot more gumption that I was expecting. This is probably the kind of game that gets fans salivating, and gets them frustrated when Kovalev seems disinterested.
Otherwise, Erik Karlsson looked really fleet on the ice. I didn't particularly notice his size becoming an issue, but he looked good in over 20 minutes on the night--including 7:33 on the powerplay. Speaking of the powerplay, you've got to wonder how it could go a measly 1-for-6 with players like Kovalev, Cheechoo, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Filip Kuba. I guess it's something else we can chalk up to the learning curve, but Ottawa's going to have to take advantage of their PP opportunities this season, because they're not going to dominate at even-strength.
The main event was a first-period bout between Jeremy Yablonski and Adam Keefe. Keefe started the fight (and took the extra two for roughing to prove it), but Yabo ended it in convincing fashion, jerseying Keefe quickly and getting some good shots in on him.
Not a pretty game, I'm glad I had a live Yahoo! fantasy draft to keep me occupied while watching it. Still, it's exciting to see these new faces, and we're all hoping they're going to develop some chemistry in time for when the games start meaning something.
I don't have too much to add that hasn't already been said. Ilya Zubov had a far better game than I expected, and was very strong on a puck - it's just unfortunate that he didn't have very offensively gifted linemates to help him in the Panthers' end. Another thing to note is that the speed of some players was pretty great, notably Mike Fisher, Spezza, Karlsson, and Kuba. And, as Peter said, Kovalev was a beast out there. He was hitting, creating chances, and backchecking in ways that I didn't expect.
However, those positives don't change the fact that this was a very disappointing showing from the Sens, who need to build up some chemistry before the regular season starts.
Edit: Somehow, both of us forgot to mention that the Senators scored with about 30 seconds left to tie it, yet it was waved off by a ref who was standing right there. Everyone in the arena, including the Florida Panthers, knew it was a goal, but apparently preseason games don't feature video review. Who knew?
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