Andy’s back and there’s gonna be trouble, oh la, oh la, Andy’s back! I promise I won’t sing to you again, I’m just very happy to see Craig Anderson back between the pipes. Alright, I can’t promise that I won’t sing, but I’ll try to try. This is must win territory for the Senators after dropping their last 3 (in regulation no less) the Boys and the Sens Army behind them were really pushing for another notch in the W column. Unfortunately, the Senators faced off against Scott Clemmensen who decided he wanted to showcase all the head stands he has been working on.
The first period started exactly how the struggling Senators needed it too. The Panthers are coming off a bad loss to the Capitals in the second of a back to back, and they looked sluggish to start. Ottawa took advantage of this with finally some great defensive exits, quick and dirty passes out of the zone and some great offensive zone possession. This exact type of zone possession led to what we’ve all been waiting for since the Trade Deadline. Getting deep into the zone, Mika Zibanejad pulled some defenders behind the net, clearing up a wide open Jakob Silfverberg who quick touches a cross crease pass to a wide open Cory Conacher. Tic, Tac, Toe, Tap in, and the teeny tiny Conacher has his first goal as a Senator.
And the badness set in. Have you seen the Senators powerplay? Because the Powerplay they got in the first was probably one of the worst ones I’ve ever seen. That penalty kill for the Panthers lit a fire under them and it seemed like odd man rush central after that. The Panther seemed to have a multitude of 3-2, 2-1 opportunities. For the Sens they had two things going for them. The Panthers kept looking for THE perfect pass (which they never found) and….AND…ANDY’S BACK! It feels good to watch him pop out of the net and cut down the angles on the incoming shooters.
The second period got off to exactly the opposite start that Ottawa was looking for. Once again, a 2-1 from the Panthers led to deep offensive zone time. Tomas Fleischman on a deep around fought of Sergei Gonchar and threw the puck on net to an awaiting Marcel Goc. A little tip in and the game is knotted at one. Through the first 5 minutes that 1 shot and goal, was the only shot on net from either team, in what was a rocky start. Luckily, the most choreographed fight in existence between George Parros and Matt Kassian led to a great momentum shift for the Senators. The ice visibly titled in Ottawa’s favour as the shot started pouring in on the net. If only they could hit the net with some consistency, but that’s another topic entirely. I love the Paul MacLean mentality of “SHOOT THE PUCK” a missed shot has a far better chance of creating an opportunity than a giveaway because a player holds on too long.
This pressure eventually leads to Guillaume Latendresse behind the net with a beautiful feed out to a cold Kyle Turris who was flat out denied by Scott Clemmensen. A desperation toe save with the puck half over the line keeps this game tied at 1. Some late pressure and a high stick to Cory Conacher (who is everywhere on the ice, always) means the Senators get to start the third period with a minute and a half remaning on a Powerplay. Which only having 30 seconds to showcase it at the end of the second period, was exponentially better than their first chance.
The third period started as the Boys wanted, minus any pucks going into the net. The opening 5+ of the game was pure zone possession for the Senators. Coming off a Powerplay, some great zone pressure by the fourth line drew another penalty, and kept Florida hemmed into their zone. Clemmensen was standing on his head for the opening minutes, as he had been doing all game. Eventually that head standing pays off, as a Gonchar penalty gives the Panthers a powerplay. A lucky break and a bad missed call keeps Erik Condra on the ice and the Senators at 5-4 instead of 5-3. As tends to happen when the ice dramatically shifts back, a Dmitry Kulikov blast from the point finds its way passed Craig Anderson, and the Panthers are up 2-1 with under 10 remaining. At this point, this wind comes completely out of the sails as a fan watching the game. A game the Senators have dominated in every way other than special teams, and now they find themselves down 2-1 in the back half of the game. The ineffective powerplay was given another chance with under a minute remaining, but the Sens couldn’t pull anything together and fear is beginning to creep into the hearts of the fan base. For a team that earlier in the year couldn’t lose in anything but extra time, hasn’t been able to snag any extra points as this marks the teams 4th straight loss. The Sens are resting in 6th place, but things haven gotten extremely uncomfortable.
- The Rookie line of Jakob Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad, and Cory Conacher are a shining light right now. Great spear, hands and playmaking. It’s great to see these guys instantly click and start putting up some points.
- Special Teams. Our penalty kill is typically a thing of beauty. Tonight despite the fact we went 0/1 was still really good. However, our Powerplay is bordering on atrocious right now. We fire the puck from every angle at even strength, but as soon as the team hits a man advantage they pucks stay on the sticks just a little too long and never find their way on net.
- Scott Clemmensen. I don’t think I really need to say more here. The man simply stood on his head and robbed the Senators of the W today. It was a game they all but dominated the Panthers in, yet there was no silver lining for them tonight.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
- I want to say “NO ONE” and just be grumpy about the loss. Instead of going to incite some an rage. Peter Regin takes home my player of the game tonight. The guy had some very impressive forechecking work in this game, and despite not putting anything in the net, played extremely well. That play was rewarded by Paul MacLean having Regin on the ice toward the end of the game. Tonight was a tough loss for the boys, but there were some shining lights on the ice.
CLARKE’S PLAY OF THE GAME
- I’m originally a Saint John boy, and as such has a loyalty to players that have come up through the Saint John Sea Dogs organization. So watching games when the HOO-BA-DOOOO (Jonathan Huberdeau for the non-believers) plays are a treat, even if they’re against the Senators. The game winning goal by Kulikov was set up by a patient beyond his years pass from the (yes, the ‘the’ is intentional) HOO-BA-DOOOO and despite the fact it is what downed the Sens, it was the play of the game. There was also the hilarious jump the shark on the Paros-Kassian fight, and the amazing kick save form Clemmensen.
Ottawa continues to take in the beautiful Florida weather with a stop down in Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop will be out and ready to show the team around his digs. Knowing the difficult situation Ottawa has found themselves in in the goals column and how well Bishop has played all year, this is going to be a real test for the team. Heart may be the one thing to pull them through, time for the PeskySens to kick it up a gear.