The All-Star break doesn’t seem to have done the Senators any favours as they lost their second game in as many days, falling 2-0 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Despite heavily out-shooting the Red Wings 35-21, two quick goals just 39 seconds apart by Danny DeKeyser and Darren Helm midway through the first were all Detroit needed to seal the win. Johnathan Bernier shut the door for the Red Wings the rest of the way, turning aside all 35 shots he faced as he led the team to their first shutout of the season.
Despite the loss, Senators head coach Guy Boucher was impressed with his team’s effort.
“Guys are giving everything they’ve got,” says Boucher. “You can see them pushing. You look at the second period, it would have been easy to fold.”
The Senators found themselves in penalty trouble throughout the first half of the second. Brady Tkachuk took a four-minute double minor for high sticking just two minutes into the period. Then, with just 30 seconds left in that penalty, Zack Smith found himself in the box for tripping. The Senators penalty kill was a bright spot in this game, killing off both penalties and 30 seconds of a two-man advantage.
However, the other end of the ice was a different story. Despite garnering two powerplays of their own, the Senators couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities. Detroit succeeded in preventing Ottawa from setting up in the zone, and as a result scoring chances were few and far between.
Boucher was quick to give credit to Detroit for a game well played, and their dedication to playing self-sacrificing hockey.
“They did a terrific job of blocking the shot lanes,” says Boucher. “We did get 35 shots but we would have gotten more with the way we were creating opportunities. Their players were willing to pay the price to block shots.”
The loss was a disappointing one for the Senators, but Boucher was also encouraged by what he saw on the defensive end.
“We’ve asked players to be better defensively today, to give (up) under 30 shots,” says Boucher. “When you say under 30 shots, we’re thinking 28 and 29. But 21, you can’t ask for much more than that defensively. That might be one of (our) best efforts defensively all year.
The Senators will have three days off before getting a chance to bounce back in Toronto against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs are currently second in the Atlantic Division and will be a tough test for the Senators, who sit 22 points back of their provincial rivals.