Ottawa Senators lose 4-0 to Florida Panthers

Against the current President’s Trophy favorites, the Ottawa Senators’ failure to win their fifth straight game in five years wouldn’t be the most disappointing thing in the world. But after seeing the skill that was on display against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, the flat performance we saw tonight stings a little more than usual.

There were several early indicators that the Sens weren’t going to be the same team we saw against the Devils. Instead, a lack of accountability in all three areas led to a very easy period for Spencer Knight, who only needed to save 7 shots, to the 12 faced by Filip Gustavsson. They couldn’t make even the simplest passes in the offensive zone, and although the defense did a good job in the opening minutes, Florida was left with several good chances in the back half of the frame. A Drake Batherson turnover in his own end led to San Reinhart opening the scoring for Florida at 6:01 of the period, which was the only goal of the first 20 minutes.

Ottawa would face a tough challenge in the second, as penalties from Chris Tierney and Austin Watson gave the Panthers a two-man advantage, but the PK unit did a great job, preventing quality chances and successfully killing the 5 on 3. This served as a change of momentum for the Senators, who after losing 17-9 on shots, cut their deficit to 19-18 at the end of the period, a period that involved a much more effort inspired only during the premiere.

The Panthers unfortunately destroyed Ottawa’s little hope early in the third period. Sam Bennett doubled the lead to just 1:11, taking advantage of a Nick Holden error…

…and just 22 seconds later, Erik Brännström was caught off guard at his own blue line, which created another very dangerous chance for the Panthers, finished by Carter Verhaeghe.

Verhaeghe added a second scorer at 13:08 into the period, and other than a bit of chaos from Parker Kelly and Noel Acciari, nothing of interest happened afterwards. Failing to win five games in a row, they lost 4-0 to the NHL’s best team, while being outshot 30-27.

Game Notes:

  • Although the shots were close, Ottawa’s lack of attention to detail was evident early on – passing was out of place, turnovers were frequent and controlled zone entries were as rare as a FanShot on this site. . Part of it has to do with the Panthers, even without Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, being a very talented team, but I think we can count on the best players in Ottawa who are much better in the average game than they weren’t tonight.
  • The special teams were sort of a positive. The power play didn’t score, but the top unit moved the puck really well and was able to set up Josh Norris for several of his trademark flares from the circle. The penalty kill was perfect 3-on-3, including their stifling of the Panthers’ 5-on-3 opportunity for a minute. Gustavsson, although unable to complete the colossal task of bailing out his team tonight, did an excellent job in goal for 40 minutes.
  • Austin Watson’s best game of the season was that 8-2 win over Florida on Dec. 14, and he was pretty good in this one, too. Even taking into account the misguided Minor penalty he imposed, he was less visible than most of the other team members (that’s a compliment!), and his physique tonight helped the Senators more than he didn’t hurt them, as he led all forwards with a 5-on-5 expected goal share of 58.43%, according to NaturalStatTrick.

Statistics:

Following:

  • The conclusion of Ottawa’s 2021-22 campaign will feature a road tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers, scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST tomorrow, April 29.

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