Some of the most frustrating losses come when you outplay an opponent for most of the game. That's what happened last night in Ottawa with the Canes controlling most of last night's game against the Senators. Unfortunately, the team dug themselves into a hole early with a defensive breakdown that led to a goal by Jason Spezza and had to play from behind for most of the game. Even with the assistance of 8 powerplays and 9 scoring chances generated with the man advantage, they ended up taking home their third straight loss. This isn't the best game to judge the powerplay on because while they did generate nine chances, the Canes spent nearly 1/4 of the game 5-on-4 and only scored once. Ottawa's goalie Craig Anderson deserves a lot of credit for his 34 save performance but the team was getting basically one chance per two minute powerplay. Ottawa was able to score on their first powerplay and on the tail-end of their third, so that didn't help either.
Scoring chances & more after the jump
Carolina Hurricanes at Ottawa Senators 11/27/11 Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Carolina's chances are in red, Ottawa's are in white
Carolina was playing from behind and had eight powerplays so it should surprise no one that they ended up outchancing the Senators in this game. They dominated the first period but unfortunately they gave up the first chance of the game which was Jason Spezza's goal. It took seven straight chances for the Canes to finally get through Craig Anderson and they had momentum completely on their side. All that momentum went straight down the drain after a boarding penalty was called on Brett Sutter towards the end of the second period and it led to an Ottawa goal. Now the Canes found themselves trailing again going into the second period and had to claw their way back into it from then on. The powerplay is what drove Carolina for the rest of the game as they didn't do much at even strength (although they didn't spend a lot of time there) and they ended up creating more chances there than they did when playing 5-on-5. I really wish they could have scored more than one goal but the chances were there.
I should also mention how Ottawa was very opportunistic and made the most of their scoring chances in this game. Their first goal came on a defensive breakdown in the neutral zone, their second was on the powerplay late in the first period, the third goal came immediately after a powerplay against a tired PK unit and their fourth goal was a result of a lost faceoff & another defensive breakdown which should have never happened. Bad luck is one thing killing this team but mental errors like what you saw on the Spezza and Smith goals are another.
Individual Scoring Chances
Best EV Forward: Eric Staal +3
Worst EV Forward: Chad LaRose, Jussi Jokinen & Alexei Ponikarovsky -1
Best EV Defenseman: Bryan Allen +3
Worst EV Defenseman: Justin Faulk -1
Eric Staal had another good game and has finally broken 50% in scoring chance percentage on the year. This is a big feat for him when you consider that he was drifting below 40% at the end of October. Happy for him and even happier that he scored a goal in yesterday's game. If he keeps this up then there will be plenty more to come as the season goes on. His line with Skinner and Ruutu seemed to be all the Canes had going for them in this game at even strength, though. They also got a pretty easy matchup against the Senators third line and the Kuba/Karlsson defense pairing so I would keep that in mind. So little of this game was played at even strength so that's one reason why most players numbers look pretty unspectacular there so I'm going to talk about a few notable special teams performances.
Ponikarovsky has been a perfect fit on the second powerplay unit as he scored his third powerplay goal of the week. He's provided a net-front prescence and creates chances the old fashioned way: by going to the net and getting the dirty goals. If we can see more of that from him and a little more production at even strength then signing him for $1.25 mil a year will go down as a bargain. That's if he can be consistent and you never know about that with Ponikarovsky. The entire second line was kept quiet at even strength but were very effective on the powerplay. The only player who even generated a scoring chance was Chad LaRose and that was when he was playing with another line. Poni and Jokinen also got considerably less ice-time at even strength.
How nice is it to have Joni Pitkanen back? He was on ice for six of the powerplay chances and set up Staal's goal. The only problem is that he's still giving up chances and was on ice for two Ottawa goals. He also didn't look good at all on Smith's goal but it's his first game coming back from an injury so I will let it slide. McBain was about the same and you can tell that he looks a lot more comfortable with Pitkanen back in the lineup. I'm a little curious about what Kaberle could have done if he was in the lineup but the defense appeared to be fine without him. Faulk had kind of a rough game, though.
Bryan Allen continues to be a stud with zero chances given up and being matched up with Alfredsson, Karlsson and Spezza for most of the game. Him and Gleason also did not give up a shorthanded chance all game either. Brandon Sutter and Patrick Dwyer both had great games and did a great job of holding the Spezza line at bay.
Head-to-Head at 5-on-5
The Sens de-facto first line didn't do much in this game as the only matchup they could win was against . The line did did the most damage was Greening-Spezza-Filatov as they had one of the Senators even strength goals and managed to win a couple of their matchups. It took a bad bounce for the Smith line to get on the score-sheet and it's fitting because those three were taken out back by the Staal line for most of this game. Ottawa's defense pairings were mixed up for some of this game but for the most part, Kuba and Karlsson were beaten by all of their matchups and so were the young pairing of Rundblad and Cowen.
The fourth had a good performance and I was going to say that Brett Sutter played one of his best games of the season but the boarding penalty he took in the first period led to Ottawa's second goal. Bryan Allen won all of his matchups and notice how well Derek Joslin played when he was with him compared to Justin Faulk.
Overall, this was a good effort from Carolina that was wasted thanks to untimely penalties and mistakes. Story of the season.