Senators Revert to Being Outshot, Still Lose
A recap of the game between the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks on Remembrance Day, 2014.
Coming into the game, the big story looked like it would be goaltending. The Senators were starting the goalie with the best save percentage in the league in Craig Anderson, while the Canucks countered with the winningest goalie in the league in Ryan Miller.
Also featured before the game were some tributes to the military, including a ceremonial puck drop with three members, and the national anthem performed by a military band. It was a good reminder of the importance of the day, that though there was a hockey game, hockey was far from the most important thing to consider.
Anyway, the game got going, and the Sens started playing the way they always have. They had little possession, and a much smaller share of the shots. In their own end, they looked disorganized, and gave the 'Nucks lots of opportunities to score. In the offensive zone, they looked disorganized, and could hardly get a cycle going. The Sens actually went seven minutes without a shot on goal at one point. The period ended with the shots 12-6 in favour of Vancouver, but I think that even flattered Ottawa's play. Late in the period, Ottawa managed to put the puck in the net, but only because Chris Neil hooked Alex Edler. Unfortunately for Neil, the ref at centre ice noticed and gave him a penalty. The Sens managed to kill the first minute of the powerplay before the period expired.
The second period started very similarly to the first, except that the Sens managed to spend three minutes on the penalty kill. Then, just over six minutes into the period, something happened for the first time in three games: Anderson let in an even-strength goal. Now, I'll fully admit that I don't really know hockey strategy, but I think Andy played that goal wrong. Mark Borowiecki had an awful giveaway, which led to a 2-on-1, and typically the goalie is supposed to cover the shot while the defenceman takes the pass. Erik Karlsson made sure there was no pass opportunity, but for whatever reason, Anderson didn't trust him and was cheating towards the pass. As a result, Shawn Matthias could slide the puck under Anderson's pad and give his team a 1-0 lead. However, the Sens were able to respond (a theme of the night) a few minutes later. Curtis Lazar took a shot from the point, and Mike Hoffman had a beautiful bury on the rebound. Suddenly it was a tie game.
The back-and-forth of the period would continue when a second 2-on-1 led to a second Vancouver goal. Nick Bonino beat Erik Karlsson inside, and this time Anderson played the 2-on-1 right, making sure that Bonino had no shot. However, Chris Phillips for some reason forgot his job, and just kind of stood in the crease while he watched Alex Burrows pocket the goal. It was Burrows' first goal at home since April 2013, and it was Vancouver's second lead of the night. However, a minute and a half later, the Sens were able to respond. Clarke MacArthur tried to toe-drag around Dan Hamhuis deep in the Canucks' zone, and failed. Kyle Turris took the loose puck and rifled it home top-corner far-side. It was a beautiful quick shot, and proved that he may indeed be talented. Maybe all those games between his first and second goals of the year were just unlucky. At this point, the shots were 24-14 for the Canucks, which meant the Sens' second period was better than their first. I'm not sure if Andy was upset about having let in 2 goals, but he was getting feisty at the end of the period, pushing players who were in his crease, and apparently complaining to the refs.
The next Vancouver goal of the night came at 5:36 of the third. Kevin Bieksa scored on a slapshot from the point, and Anderson surely wasn't helped by having both of his defenders trying to box out Jannik Hansen right in front of him. I don't really blame Anderson, but a save would've been nice for the team. However, once again, the Sens were able to erase the deficit. Turris had a shift with Hoffman and Mark Stone, and Stone scored on the rebound after a nice give-and-go with Turris to enter the zone. That was it for the scoring in regulation. Most of the Sens looked like they were simply trying to get the game to overtime. Karlsson was easily the exception, since he was always the second or third Sens player across the Canucks' blue line, and routinely was hovering around the top of the circles when the Sens had the puck in the zone. He seemed intent on ending the game in regulation, even if it meant he had to backcheck hard nearly every shift he played.
I was quite excited for overtime, as I think the Sedins and Karlsson are the most exciting things to have at 4-on-4. Karlsson actually had an impressive takeaway from Henrik in the overtime period. However, he took a nasty spill coming into the zone a bit later, and immediately skated off for a line change. Impressively, Jared Cowen channelled his inner Erik Karlsson, and skated back hard to negate a breakaway. The overtime also had the mind-boggling forward pairing of Hoffman with Milan Michalek. I can't help but think if you're gonna put out two wingers, you should put out the two speedy, possession-beast wingers who nearly always play together. No matter. With just under a minute to go, Henrik found Daniel for a one-timer from the sharpest angle possible, which he naturally scored on. It was a beautiful game-winner in a game which Vancouver definitely deserved to win. Final shots were 37-24 for the Canucks.
Sens Hero: Kyle Turris
It's nice to see Turris get on the scoresheet again. His goal was a thing of beauty, and his play on Stone's goal was almost as nice. If the Sens are going to win more games this year, they need Turris to put up points.
Sens Heroes: Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, and Curtis Lazar
The Kid Line had a pretty great night again tonight, each putting up a point, and having fantastic relative possession numbers. Without their goals, the Sens would've lost tonight. I'd love to see them get a bit more ice time.
Honourable Mention: Jared Cowen and Cody Ceci
The two had impressive possession stats tonight, and had specific plays that stood out. Cowen had a great backcheck in overtime to negate a breakaway, and Ceci faked a couple slapshots so he could side-step the shot block and make a better play. They deserve recognition when they do significantly better than the rest of the corps.
Dishonourable Mention: Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek, and Bobby Ryan
These guys got a lot of minutes tonight, and actually had decent relative Corsi stats. However, they appear to have almost no chemistry. They don't seem to anticipate each other's movements well at all, and seem to misfire on passes a bunch. I've been one of many commenting for a while that Mika should get Stone and Hoffman as wingers, because he clearly needs possession-strong linemates, and Ryan doesn't fulfill that role. I don't want to break up Turris-MacArthur, nor the Kid Line, so I don't know what would spark Zibanejad at this point.
Sens Zero: Chris Neil
He's had some decent games this year, but this wasn't one of them. He negated a goal by taking a stupid penalty in the other team's crease. He was needlessly offside several times on the evening. This is the kind of game that makes most Sens fans question why management keeps him around.
Sens Killers: Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin
They each finished the night with two points and a combined 8 shots. Their combination on the overtime goal was nearly unfair. When you play the Canucks, you have to shut down the twins. The team nearly did tonight, but that's the thing about these guys: even one chance is enough for them to change a game.