The Ottawa Senators continued their road trip, and just like the previous game in LA, ill-timed and unnecessary penalties proved to be their undoing as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Sharks.
Robin Lehner made 47 saves in his season debut, doing what he could to keep his team in the game.
The Sharks opened up spending a lot of time in the Ottawa end, and eventually a San Jose cycle led to a rebound goal from Tomas Hertl in the first minute. Chris Neil tried to give his team a lift by scrapping with the much larger Matt Pelech, a fight that you would have to give the decision to Neil, who made the big Shark just try to hang on and tie up Neil’s arms before Neil scored the takedown. whether or not that fight is was a turning point, the Sentors took control of the latter stages of the first period. Zack Smith got the Senators on the board with less than 5 minutes leftin the frame, picking up a rebound of a Chris Phillips shot off the back boards in the slot and putting it past Niemi. Ottawa took the lead 3 minutes later on the power play, with Jason Spezza on the half boards finding Bobby Ryan walking into the slot and firing a wrist shot past the San Jose goalie to give the Sens a 2-1 lead through 20 minutes.
There are penalties that are necessry, and then there are dumb penalties. Milan Michalek committed the latter along the boards behind the San Jose net when he hauled down Logan Couture to give the Sharks a power play late in the second. That penalty proved costly as Patrick Marleau picked up a loose puck that came out of a goal-mouth scramble and hoisted it over Lehner, who was seated on his backside. The Senators went to the room after 40 minutes tied at 2, not a bad situation for a road team playing one of the best teams in the league right now.
The third period was a different story, as the Senators found out why the Sharks are in the position they are in. After getting hemmed in by the Sharks’ 4th line, Jason Spezza took a (rather weak) roughing call for a light punch to the back of the head of Tommy Wingels. Maybe a weak call, but an unnecessary play that gave the Sharks, who already had started to gain momentum more of a stranglehold. Sure enough, just after the Spezza penalty expired but before he could get back in the play, Brent Burns got free on the doorstep and Joe Thornton found him from below the goal line and Burns one-timed a shot from about 2feet away that Lehner had absolutely no shot at stopping, with just under 13 minutes left. San Jose protected the lead by taking the philosophy of keeping the puck as far away from their own net as possible, and ended up firing 24 shots on Lehner in the period and allowing Ottawa only 5 in keeping the lead. Lehenr hurt his own cause and helped prevent an Ottawa comeback by taking a high-sticking penalty on Brent Burns. It was incidental, and Lehner didn’t see him coming from the blind-side, but his stick was up nonetheless. With that, killing off 4 minutes of the last 10, a comeback was not in the cards and the Senators dropped their first game in regulation 3-2.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Robin Lehner tied a career high facing 50 shots, including 9 on the double-minor that he created and gave his team all the opportunity in the world to stay in the game and maybe find the equalizer. After sitting around for almost 2 full weeks, it was an impressive start for the young Swede in his season debut.
There is no rest for the weary as this western trip wouldn’t be complete without a back-to-back, and it is the Bobby Ryan return to Anaheim as they go back to Southern California to face the Ducks. The fortunate thing is that it is a 5pm start in Anaheim, meaning the game starts at 8 pm Eastern, not the traditional 10 or 10:30 puck drop.