It had been four days since the Ottawa Senators had last played, and fans were itching to see the new coach, Dave Cameron, in action. Not comforting at all was knowledge of this little tidbit going in:
Dave Cameron will try and change this stat: No Sens head coach has won his debut behind the bench after taking over mid-season.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) December 11, 2014
Allison - 3-1 L vs WPG (11/22/95) Martin - 4-3 L vs PIT (1/24/96) Murray - 3-1 L @ PHI (2/28/08) Clouston - 1-0 L vs LA (2/3/09)— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) December 11, 2014
At the very least, people knew the headline game would be a lot stronger if the Sens lost: "Cameron goes down like the Titanic", or maybe "Worst performance we've seen by a Cameron since Sex Tape". It promised to be a much-talked-about game, regardless of result.
The game started out promising for Cameron and the Sens. He said the team was going to forecheck harder, and that led to some early pressure, culminating in Alex Chiasson drawing a penalty on the third shift of the game. The Sens would continue to apply the pressure, getting eight shots on goal before the Kings even got one on Craig Anderson. Truth be told, the Kings didn't look great in the first period, with only two real moments of sustained pressure to go along with one pretty lacklustre powerplay. Anderson's best moment of the period was definitely rushing out to negate a Kings breakaway.
The Sens came very close to scoring, with Chiasson all alone on the doorstep. Unfortunately, Jonathan Quick pulled out a highlight-reel save, just getting the glove across to keep the puck out.
The Sens had a great first period, outshooting LA 14-5. Too bad they looked pretty boring do it.
Early opinion: is Ottawa more boring with Cameron or just as boring?— Ryan Classic (@ryanclassic) December 12, 2014
Ottawa has had trouble dominating possession for more than a period at a time, so most Sens fans were prepared for a drop in quality of play entering the second. The period started pretty badly for Ottawa. Matt Greene would take a point shot that appeared to deflect off Eric Gryba, over Anderson, and into the net. After this, Jared Cowen would clip Dwight King's head while throwing a hit. The puck would scoot around behind the net, and get recovered by Ottawa, who started to rush the other way. However, King took exception to this hit, and picked a fight with Cowen. Cowen simply jerseyed King to win the fight and prove his point. Somehow, the refs decided Cowen deserved a separate interference penalty for the play, but King didn't deserve an instigator. I'm just gonna say, this is my least-favourite type of call in all of sports. Neither ref indicated a penalty after the hit, the play was not whistled dead when Ottawa recovered possession, but King though there should have been a penalty, and the refs decided to listen to him after the fact. If King had decided to backcheck hard, there would've been no call. Essentially, the refs are telling the players they can make their own calls. I hate these a lot more than make-up calls.
Ottawa would kill the penalty, but things would only get worse. Erik Karlsson would step up at his own blue line to try to intercept a pass, but miss. Justin Williams collected the pass, and skated in. He took a shot that Karlsson got a stick on, deflecting the puck through Anderson's five-hole. The Sens were in a two-goal hole on two deflections by their own defencemen.
All appeared lost after Quick shut the door on a Sens' powerplay, but then Bobby Ryan decided to do this:
Our vote for goal of the year from Bobby Ryan. Whoa.— LA Kings (@LAKings) December 12, 2014
It was a beautiful goal, the type Sens fans have been wanting to see from Ryan pretty much since he arrived in the capital. Colin Greening had a great chance to tie the game shortly afterward, but Quick continued his stellar play but taking up as much of the net as possible and preventing the goal. The period ended with the Sens down by 1, and having been outshot 15-11 in the period.
The third had a great start for the Sens. On a Kings powerplay, Mark Stone would clear the puck and then chase Drew Doughty hard all the way to the Kings' zone. David Legwand would intercept Doughty's pass out of the zone, shooting it right back on net. Stone took the rebound, kicked it to his skate, and snapped it past Quick. The Sens had tied the game on a shorthanded goal.
That burst of momentum was short-lived, since only 36 seconds later, Anze Kopitar would be left wide open in front of the net. I'm gonna try to channel my inner-Ary here and look at a still right before the goal was scored:
Normally on a penalty kill, you try to make a diamond or a box. I think the Sens' formation above was an isoceles triangle? Chiasson had been covering Kopitar, but then when Kopitar went in deep, Chiasson turned back around to cover high (his job as a forward on the PK). Cody Ceci should probably have picked up Kopitar, but instead was covering nobody the middle of the ice. Chris Phillips appeared to be skating backwards to cover nobody at the bottom of the circle. A defensive breakdown allowed Kopitar to get open enough to be able to dance around Anderson and tuck the puck into an empty net.
Not long after, Chris Phillips would fall, and Eric Gryba would put his stick in the way and his body behind the net in an attempt to block a 2-on-1, but Tyler Toffoli easily got the puck past the sprawling stick to Trevor Lewis who outwaited Anderson to score. With a minute and a half left, Cameron would pull the goalie, and with the extra attacker Jared Cowen ripped home a wrist-shot from the point. The next time the Sens got the puck in the zone, they pulled the goalie again, but this time, the Kings recovered possession and Tanner Pearson would score from centre. Final score 5-3 for the Kings, with the shots 36-35 for the Kings.
Sens Hero: Bobby Freakin' Ryan
Did you see that goal? Hero mention.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
His whole line was flying, but he got the goal, so he gets the hero mention. Hustled hard all night, and probably could've got more points on a night where Quick wasn't in net.
Honourable Mention: Jared Cowen
He had two points on the night, and also had awesome hair during his fight.
Mention: Craig Anderson
He didn't play a bad game, but he didn't really have a great game either. A timely save sure would've been nice tonight.
Poor Chris Phillips
Does something wrong and everyone gets upset. Does something right... well, I can't remember what people did back in 2008. But seriously, he just looks old and slow and bad at hockey most of the time.
Sens Killer: Jake Muzzin
The guy had three assists on the night, but I think even that doesn't do it justice. Doughty seemed to take a few ill-advised risks, and Muzzin covered every time, even shutting down a 2-on-1. I couldn't help but think that if that's how good he looks next to Doughty, how much better he'd be next to Karlsson.
The "Right Honourable David Cameron" watch:
Overall, not a bad night for the coach. The Sens' more aggressive forecheck appeared to hem the Kings in their zone a lot. He pulled the goalie way earlier than MacLean would've and the Sens got rewarded with a goal, with 1:21 still available in which to tie up the game. Most importantly, the least total time-on-ice belonged to Colin Greening (9:13), Zack Smith (9:14), and David Legwand (10:13). We can only assume Chris Neil would've been in the same category, only at 2:49 before being injured. That lines up with the allotment most of us would like to see.
Beautiful game flow chart:
B_T shot donut: