The Senators flew into Raleigh, NC for their final game before Christmas, hoping to enter the break riding a four game win streak. Their most recent match-up was just last night at Scotiabank Place where the Sens overcome the Florida Panthers in OT. The Senators who were predicted by many to be last in the East currently hold a playoff spot and look to solidify their position tonight while Carolina holds onto that 15th place spot. Carolina’s most recent game was Wednesday versus the Phoenix Coyotes in which a third period collapse saw them lose both their lead and the game. Here’s how the game versus the Hurricanes went:
The Senators didn’t seem to be part of the game during this first period, lacking jump in their step. The shots were an atrocious 19 to 6 in favour of Carolina. The Hurricanes had control for the majority of the period and took the lead less than three minutes in with a goal from Andreas Nodl. A glorious chance then came for them to increase it as Erik Condra was sent to the box only 9 seconds after the call on Zack Smith giving the Hurricanes nearly 2 minutes of 5-3 time. Thanks to the work of Craig Anderson and the penalty killers, Kuba in particular, the Senators kept it within one. With just over two minutes left in the opening period, the Sens tied the game. Filip Kuba who stood along the boards just inside the blue line just fired it on net and despite the horrible angle the puck somehow made its way past Cam Ward. Kyle Turris picked up an assists, his third in three games as a Senator. Overall the Senators were lucky to be tied in this game after a very lack-luster period.
Compared to the first period, the Sens came out a lot stronger though that doesn’t really say much. It was an improvement sure but they still needed to be better. The Senators struggled to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, and another penalty kill upcoming would not help the cause. This time it was Jared Cowen going off on what seemed like a clean play but was deemed interference by the refs, sending Carolina on their third power play of the game. Again, it was the Senators’ penalty killers keeping the team in the game. The Sens were outshot again this period but by a much smaller margin of 10-8.
After killing three straight penalties in the first 40 minutes, including an elongated 5 on 3, the Senators were ready to try their hand at the man advantage. Jaroslav Spacek went off with a tripping minor however the team couldn’t take advantage of the power play and the score remained tied. The Senators play was still mediocre at best in this final frame and they had mainly their goalie to thank for even being in the game at all at this point. Another scoreless period would send this game to overtime, Carolina out-shooting the Sens 36-21.
The Sens had their best start to any period as they came out strong firing a few shots on Ward in the first minute of extra time. A lesser fate awaited the team though as it was Carolina who scored first to steal the extra point away from the Sens and win the game 2-1. After the way the team played the rest of the game however it was probably lucky they left with any points at all.
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***Senshot’s Three Stars***
*1st star: Filip Kuba - Along with Anderson, Kuba led the penalty kill by both blocking shots and clearling rebounds time after time. He then went on to score the game tying goal that elongated the game, gaining Ottawa a very important point.
**2nd star: Craig Anderson - Was perhaps the biggest reason the Senators got at least one point in this game, making 36 saves and being the back force on the penalty kill unit that was 3/3 on the night.
***3rd star: Tuomo Ruutu - Had the highest plus/minus rating of any player from either team at plus-2, and scored the game winner to secure the two points for the Hurricanes.
Playing in the second night of back-to-backs I’m sure a somewhat slow beginning was expected however the Senators never really elevated their game as time went on. The Sens looked tired and uninspired as they skated. Jason Spezza went virtually unnoticed for the majority of the game which is something that can’t be happening with a player who is so important in the team’s success. Mike Hoffman who made his NHL debut had an average game in his 9 minutes of ice time. His best moment came in the third period as he rushed into the Carolina end and fired a wrister off the crossbar. At the end of the day, the effort and play of the Senators was just not good enough. The score might even give them more credit than they deserve because in quality the game was not all that close for the two teams. The Sens should focus on the positive of having gained points in each of their last 4 games before Christmas. The team now has three days to relax for the holidays before coming back from the break for their first matchup of the Season against the dreaded Habs.
Happy Holidays, Sens fans!
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