The Ottawa Senators aren’t exactly scraping the bottom yet, but they are definitely struggling to put a complete game together. This time around, it was the New York Islanders who overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the Senators 5-4 in a shootout.
While Paul MacLean put the lines and defensive pairs through a blender prior to the game, it didn’t really help matters where it was needed most – in their own end. The Senators allowed 57 shots against Robin Lehner, a fact that really has to concern the Senators. The offense was quality, as the Sens got the first of his Ottawa career from Clarke MacArthur, as well as the first of the season from Erik Condra in addition to goals from Bobby Ryan and Mika Zibanejad.
It was Lehner who earned the struggling Senators a point, making 53 saves including great saves off Michal Grabner and Tomas Vanek breakaways in the third period and OT respectively.
Ottawa jumped out to a 2-0 lead late in the first on goals from Condra and Zibanejad, both being of the fortunate nature. The first goal proved costly as Condra injured himself on the play, and did not return after his wrist shot banked in off the far post while he collided with an Islanders defender. Zibanejad wired a high slap shot that went off Evgeni Nabokov‘s glove and in.
The Islanders fired 25 shots at Lehner in the second, and quickly evened up the game with 2 quick strikes from John Tavares and Matt Martin 27 seconds apart just before the midway mark. The Senators answered back, first with Ryan putting the rebound from a Patrick Wiercioch point shot past Nabokov, then MacArthur tucking a wraparound past the Isles goalie to restore the 2 goal Senators lead. Pierre-Marc Bouchard got away from Zibanejad in the Senators end and found himself alone to put his own rebound past Lehner with the teams playing 4 on 4.
Frans Nielsen tied the game again early in the third, when he was wide open coming in on the back door and was found on a cross-ice pass by Thomas Hickey. Lehner kept the Senators in the game and they couldn’t find the winner, sending the game to extra time. The Senators got a point they probably didn’t deserve, and Neilsen scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Islanders the win.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- The defensive woes continue, as 3 of the 4 Islanders goals came as a direct result of the Islanders forward shedding their check and being wide open for tap-ins. And it wasn’t solely the responsibility of the blueliners, because 2 of them were as a result of the forward losing their man, first Zibanejad on the Bouchard goal and then Milan Michalek on the Nielsen goal.
- The newly assembled line of Zack Smith, Mika Zibanejad and Milan Michalek was dreadful, going -2. Hopefully it was just a message from Paul MacLean to Jason Spezza and Michalek and the duo will be re-united before the Dallas game on Sunday afternoon.
- The defensive zone awareness is something that should easily be fixed with effort, and for whatever reason in continues to be the Senators’ Achilles’ heel. You can’t point the finger at a player or two, because it is everyone who has the blame for that.