Chris Neil‘s 100th career goal with just 2:18 remaining tied the score and earned the Senators a point that early on it didn’t look like they would escape with, but the Senators went on to lose in the shootout by a score of 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Craig Anderson made 35 saves on 38 shots, but for my money it continues to be the saves he doesn’t make that plague the club. More on that later.
The Senators came out very flat in this one, as Tampa had them hemmed in their own zone for long stretches early on. Ottawa looked to try to change that momentum in the back half of the frame, getting a power play opportunity. However, the strategy of playing a forward on the point with the man advantage hurt them as Bobby Ryan looked uncomfortable trying to hold the puck in at the blue line and it skipped past him, leading to a 2 on 1 for the Lightning. While Erik Karlsson took away the pass, Tyler Johnson kept the puck and roofed a shot over Anderson’s short side shoulder. Again, as has been the trend in a lot of games lately, Anderson allows a goal that he probably should have saved. Ottawa didn’t waste time tying the score, however, as Erik Karlsson picked up a rebound of Jason Spezza‘s shot from the boards and put it past Ben Bishop on the same power play. Despite being outshot 17-12 and outplayed, the Senators ended the frame tied at 1.
Tampa took the lead early on in the second, with Victor Hedman‘s shot from the top of the circle deflected off B.J. Crombeen‘s skate at the top of the crease past Anderson. That lead held for most of the period until another Ottawa power play, this time Ryan keeping the puck in at the line, with a short pass to Spezza, who found MacArthur across the ice. MacArthur skated in alone and put the puck through Bishop for the tying goal. Once again they ended the period tied, with 20 minutes left.
Tampa took the lead for the third time, with Martin St. Louis finding Ondrej Palat across the ice for the quick tap in, aided by the fact Cody Ceci didn’t have a stick. Ottawa took the play to the Lightning in an effort to get the equalizer, firing shot after shot on Bishop, but the former Senator stood tall against his former team. However, as time was ticking down, Neil jumped on a loose puck and put a quick wrister past Bishop.
Overtime solved nothing, even though Tampa was awarded a power play that Ottawa successfully killed off, and almost scored shorthanded themselves.
Nikita Kucherov scored on the first shot of the shootout with a quick release that beat Anderson. Spezza, Mika Zibanejad and Kyle Turris all missed on their attempts and Tampa left with the two points.
SENSHOT’S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Karlsson played almost 35 minutes, scoring a goal and an assist, 5 shots on goal and two hits. He is back to the level at both ends of the ice that made him a Norris Trophy winner two seasons ago.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- You can’t say that having Marc Methot in the lineup would not have helped win that game. As I said yesterday, there would be questions for the coaching staff if the Senators didn’t win, and I for one certainly do.
- Jared Cowen played 28 minutes, and that workload really showed late in the game and in OT, but apparently MacLean doesn’t trust Partick Wiercioch or Eric Gryba enough to play them more than 13 or 14 minutes. Hence Methot’s usefulness as a minute eater.
- Milan Michalek played well, especially early on, but had nothing to show for his three quality scoring chances.
Ottawa plays Carolina on Saturday afternoon, the game that was rescheduled, originally set for Friday night. Another dreaded afternoon game.