On the heels of a solid effort against the Florida Panthers, the Senators were hoping to do something they haven’t done in almost a month and string a couple wins together.
Consistency has been a huge issue for the Senators through the first 29 games of the season and the whole win one/lose one routine is not going to be enough to close the gap in the Eastern Conference. The win against the Panthers was nice but only really mattered if they could follow that up with another solid performance in Tampa Bay. Instead, Martin St. Louis scored twice, leading the Lightning to a 3-1 win over the Senators.
It was another disappointing loss for Paul MacLean’s team. Despite holding a pretty big advantage in shots, there really didn’t seem to be much in the way of quality chances. Every time it looks like this team is about to turn a corner, they come out with another effort like the one we saw tonight. As a fan, I don’t even know where to begin in suggesting things that could help turn this season around. What I do know is even though we’re in early December, they are quickly running out of race track to start making a move.
Despite holding Tampa Bay to just one shot on goal over the first 11 minutes of the game, it was the home side that opened the scoring in this one. Martin St. Louis was left alone out front as the pairing of Cowen and Wiercioch got caught running around in their own end. Despite holding Tampa to just five shots in the first, the Senators found themselves trailing 1-0 after twenty minutes.
The game opened up a little bit in the middle frame, with both teams trading chances early in the period. The Senators finally got one passed Ben Bishop, as a quick turnaround shot by Patrick Wiercioch tied the game at 1-1. It was the first goal of the season for Wiercioch who has been in and out of the line up all year. Despite taking advantage of that second period power play, there were some head scratching moments from Paul MacLean as he continued to send out strange combinations on the power play. At one point in the 2nd, immediately following a TV timeout, MacLean sent out Greening-Smith-Neil-Wiercioch and Phillips. It’s a fine line between sending a message to your best/skill players and decreasing your chance of winning a hockey game. MacLean is walking that line sometimes lately.
With just under seven minutes to go in the period, it was St. Louis again outworking the five Ottawa guys on the ice, and getting open out front to put his second of the game past Lehner. Despite the Senators holding a 26-12 edge on the shot clock, Tampa took a 2-1 lead into the third.
In what really should have been one of the most important periods of the season for the Senators, they really didn’t show up. Robin Lehner made a couple big saves to keep the game close but eventually a miscue between Spezza and Phillips allowed Filppula to walk in and bury an insurance goal for the home side. The Senators could only muster up eight shots over the final twenty minutes and made life pretty easy for Ben Bishop.
The Senators now return home to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are coming off an overtime win over the Dallas Stars and now sit seven points clear of the Senators in the Eastern Conference standings.