Written by Jared Crozier
The Senators returned home from a night at the fights (AKA a game against the Flyers), to face the well-rested Montreal Canadiens and their all-star goaltender, Carey Price. Coach Clouston made a change in goal, giving Mike Brodeur his first start of the season. The return of Alex Kovalev and Peter Regin to the line-up will hopefully add some spark as Jarko Ruutu and Matt Carkner take a seat against a divisional rival. The question of the night is whether or not Mike Brodeur can do something that Brian Elliott could not….win a game in 2011.
The game did not start out very well, as the Senators continued the recent tradition of digging themselves a hole early, falling behind 2-0 by the time most fans butts hit their seats following the national anthem. Benoit Pouliot opened the scoring at the 1:53 mark and Tomas Plekanec made it 2-0 less than two minutes later. Ottawa seemed to wake up somewhat after the sluggish start and actually took a majority of the play to the Habs. They were rewarded about halfway through the period when a nice passing play from Zack Smith to Chris Campoli to Chris Kelly resulted in an Ottawa goal, cutting the lead in half. The Senators finished the period with some confidence, despite trailing by a goal, 2-1.
The optimism that was built in the latter stages of the first was quickly snuffed out in the early moments of the second, as Brian Gionta restored the two goal lead 1:12 into the period. Cue the cameras to Brian Elliott on the bench! The coach was then forced to use his hook for the second game in a row as the Habs blew it open 5:33 in when Max Pacioretty ended Brodeur’s night, allowing his 4th goal on 15 shots. Elliott managed to save the first shot he faced, but Plekanec put one past him on a breakaway to make it a 5-1 drubbing just past the mid-way point of the period. The play was largely neutral until a burst of pressure by the Senators resulted in a pair of Montreal penalties, which allowed Ottawa to open the third period with a 70 second two-man advantage, but still trailing by four goals.
Any hopes the Senators had of staging a tremendous comeback were snuffed early as they wasted the two man advantage, and followed that up by allowing an Andrei Kostitsyn goal just over two minutes into the period. PK Subban rounded out the scoring with a power play goal at the 12:43 mark to make the final score 7-1.
THE UP SIDE
Early on, Chris Campoli showed some flashes of offense, and his heads up play to jump into the rush on the Kelly goal is what is expected of him more often. Perhaps the two game benching did him some good.
Bobby Butler played a very consistent game, played 15 plus minutes and had a team high six shots on goal. It is only a matter of time until he registers his first NHL point.
THE DOWN SIDE
The goaltending is quite simply not working right now. Clouston called out Elliott and his lack of providing a save, and this is what he is rewarded with. It must be tough entering each game knowing you are already trailing 2-0 and you aren’t going to score.
Not giving much help to the goaltenders was a defense corps that looked like the Keystone Cops. They just have no defensive zone awareness right now, and it seems like every read they make is the wrong one.
THE THREE STARS
3rd Star – Carey Price, Montreal – Perhaps surprising in a 7-1 game, but his performance in the first period kept the Senators from gaining confidence and allowed the Habs to run up the score as they did.
2nd Star – James Wisnewski, Montreal – Played a team high 23:45, had a pair of assists and has quickly become the anchor of the Habs’ defensive unit.
1st Star – Tomas Plekanec, Montreal – His first period goal put the Senators in a deep hole and his second period marker was the nail in the coffin.
The Senators are in quicksand right now. The harder they try, the worse it gets. I was looking for players who weren’t putting in an effort, and had quit, but the list was small (see Kovalev). They are trying, and the frustration on their faces is hard to look at. They haven’t given up, it just isn’t working right now. I don’t have the answer, and I doubt Clouston or Murray do. This slump is a runaway train going downhill right now and it must feel like there is no end in sight.
Hopefully they can get through the Buffalo game on Tuesday without anyone getting killed, and then use the six days off at the All-Star break to get away from the rink and not think about hockey at all for a while. Then maybe the hockey Gods will forgive whatever sin the Senators committed and release them from this purgatory they are in right now. ‘Til next time, GO SENS GO!!!!!
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