Well, hopefully Santa Claus brings some consistency to the Ottawa Senators for Christmas, because as the midway point of the season approaches it appears as though that will be the only way they get some. After a solid performance against one of the league’s powerhouses on Monday, the Senators laid an egg against the middling New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, dropping a 5-2 decision.
In the process they missed a great opportunity to move within a point of the Maple Leafs for the last playoff spot, and with a win at home against the Panthers, could have even been in a playoff position before the weekend.
Ottawa got an early power play, but it was New Jersey that took advantage as Joe Corvo tried to keep the play inside the Jersey blue line and it bounced past him sending Adam Henrique and Stephen Gionta on a 2 on 1. It was poorly played by Erik Karlsson, who allowed the pass across and Gionta buried it past a diving Robin Lehner, who was playing the shot from Henrique. That goal came just over 2 minutes into the game. Ten minutes later it was 2-0 as Reid Boucher scored his first NHL goal, picking up a rebound off the back boards and shoveling it home. That came moments after Corvo was tripped up at the Devils blue line, taking him out of any attempt to backcheck on the play that resulted in the goal.
Jaromir Jagr got in behind the Ottawa defense on the power play, and notched what would prove to be the game winner early in the second, with a nifty deke past Lehner. Colin Greening got one back with a nice tip-in of Mika Zibanejad‘s shot over the shoulder of Martin Brodeur on a power play. The Senators played better in the second, but didn’t get much to show for it either on the shot clock or the scoreboard. Then just as the period was winding down, Damien Brunner knocked the stick out of Jared Cowen‘s hands, stole the puck and went in alone on Lehner and tucked it past the big Swede to make it 4-1 and send the Sens to the locker room dejected and questioning the officiating once again.
In the third, out of the “where did that come from” file, Milan Michalek made a great move to split the defense and going backhand-shelf on Brodeur. It was the type of burst that we haven’t seen from Michalek this season and makes you wonder why we haven’t seen it more often, since he is obviously still capable of turning on the jets. That gave the Senators some life for a potential comeback for the last 10 minutes, but that was very short-lived as Eric Gelinas stepped in unchecked from the point and took a pass from behind the net and put a quick 1-timer past Lehner. That was the final goal of the game and resulted in a 5-2 New Jersey win.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
It is tough to pick someone from this game, because for every positive that you could point out, that player had some negatives as well. So instead of not awarding one, I will give it to the healthy scratch, Marc Methot. Methot’s absence was felt, and although it might not have changed the result, his effect in the lineup would have had players playing in different situations.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- While Erik Karlsson continues to dominate with the puck, at least 2 of the goals were a direct result of his poor defensive play. The opening goal Karlsson was playing the 2-on-1 nicely until he inexplicably changed the position of his stick and allowed the pass across. Lehner was playing shot all the way, as he should, and couldn’t get across in time to save the shot. While much was made about the decision by Corvo to try and hold the blue line, if the 2 on 1 had been played properly, it wouldn’t have likely mattered. The second error came on Jagr’s game winner. Cowen took his man along the boards, but for some reason Karlsson drifted right across the ice, creating a lane for Jagr to go to the net. EK was far out of position and had no backup, giving one of the greatest scorers of all time a free pass to the net.
- With the holiday roster freeze in effect, I haven’t heard that Cody Ceci had been sent down before the midnight deadline, so it looks like he will be with the Senators for at least another week. Expect Methot to be back in on Thursday with either Patrick Wiercioch or Joe Corvo to come out, maybe both with Eric Gryba also possibly drawing in.
- While Lehner allowed 5 goals, you could hardly put the blame on him. He was hung out to dry on many occasions, and there wasn’t much he could have done to chance the outcome.
- I hate blaming the officials, but the lack of consistency in calls made on the ice is staggering. Not that the Senators would have won the game with a couple of calls going their way, but when you are struggling and have to battle the stripes as well, its not a great situation.
Ottawa returns home for the second half of a back-to-back. facing the Florida Panthers who were no doubt resting in Ottawa watching the game.