In a playoff race like the Ottawa Senators find themselves in right now, there are certain games against certain opponents that you simply need to win. Tuesday’s game in Edmonton was one of them, and the fact they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Oilers might have just closed the casket lid on the Sens’ playoff hopes.
The Senators actually got off to a great start, dominating the first 10 minutes and not allowing Edmonton a shot on goal until almost the 12 minute mark. Jason Spezza opened the scoring just over 5 minutes in, taking a feed from behind the net courtesy Milan Michalek and one-timing it past Ben Scrivens. Then, with Cody Ceci off for hauling down Ales Hemsky, it was Hemsky who made them pay as he burst down the wing a la Glenn Anderson and cut hard to the net after getting around Chris Phillips and stuffing it around Craig Anderson.
Hemsky scored his second of the game in the second period to give the Oilers the lead, taking a drop pass from Sam Gagner and putting a shot through traffic that eluded Anderson.
Jordan Eberle created the third Oilers goal, and also finished it after he created a turnover in his own end and precipitated the breakout. It ended up being a 3 on 2 with Boyd Gordon‘s pass trickling through to Eberle on the doorstep and he tucked it home, putting the Oilers up by 2 less than 5 minutes into the third. Erik Karlsson got one back, basically going coast to coast and wristing a laser under Scrivens’ arm. A penalty to Eric Gryba that put the Senators shorthanded for most of the last 2 and a half minutes took much of the momentum away, and even a late power play wasn’t enough to get the Senators back to even terms.
NOTES & OBSERVATIONS
- All 3 goals against were the result of poor defensive plays. The first Hemsky goal was a great play, but you would like Phillips to get the edge quicker and not allow him to drive the net. The second Hemsky goal was bad backchecking from Michalek, who let Hemsky set up in the slot and didn’t take him soon enough on an even man rush. On the third, Patrick Wiercioch got all turned around trying to find the right man to take and ended up looking like a pretzel by the time Eberle tapped it home.
- If this was closing the lid on the Senators season, a similar effort Wednesday in Calgary would be the nail in the coffin. The Red Wings also lost, which is some measure of relief, but Columbus’ win puts them 4 points back with 4 teams to jump to get in. A large task with 20 games left.
The Senators have no time to drown their sorrows, as they get right back at it after the trade deadline, with a stop in Calgary on Wednesday night.