Canucks Army Postgame: A Sens-ational Loss

Vancouver entered Ottawa looking to make up for last night’s 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs with a fast start and a better offensive showing. Well, that part went according to plan, as they took a 3-0 lead less than half way into the game. Unfortunately, thanks to penalties and some sloppy play, the road weary Canucks coughed up that lead to an also-road-weary Senators team to lose 4-3 in overtime.

Read past the jump for a recap of what was probably the worst defensive showing of the season from Vancouver.

The Rundown

For a time, it looked as if this game was going to be the reverse of the Leafs game last night. Vancouver came out strong and pushed the play against the Senators, and even put two quick ones past Craig Anderson to give the visitors a 2-0 lead in the first period, the first of which was one of the nicest goals anyone has scored this season:

Ryan Stanton sent a long bomb pass to Radim Vrbata, who peeled off to wait for support instead of trying to beat Chris Phillips to the net. Vrbata kept the puck and faked both Phillips and Craig Anderson to the ice before stickhandling around the Sens sprawling goalie and tucking the puck in to the newly vacated cage, and opening the scoring for the visitors.

Just over a minute later, after a good sequence of sustained pressure from the Sedins, Vrbata teed up Kevin Bieksa for a point shot that found its way through Anderson to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead:

Vancouver finished the first period outshooting Ottawa 14-7, and they even had a few more scoring chances that were thwarted by Anderson, including partial breakaways from Alex Burrows and Nicklas Jensen. After killing off a 5-on-3 to start the 2nd period, Brad Richardson jumped on a Chris Phillips turnover and beat Anderson blocker side to give Vancouver a 3-0 lead:

Things were definitely going well for Vancouver at this point. They were controlling play, generating chances, and receiving very strong goaltending from Eddie Lack. Contrary to what Willie Desjardins said after the game, Vancouver was in control of the game at this point and were full value for their lead. But then, things went terribly, terribly wrong.

While killing off a Radim Vrbata interference penalty, a point shot deflected off of Chris Tanev and entered the stands. For some reason, it was ruled that Tanev had supplied the force to propel the puck out of play and not the guy taking the shot, but that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that the Sens were able to capitalize on their second 5-on-3 chance of the period, as David Legwand hammered home a rebound top-shelf past Eddie Lack.

This goal seemed to turn the game completely around, as it was all Senators from there. After picking up the pace, Mika Zibanejad circled the Canucks net after a rush and blindly threw the puck towards the slot from below the goal line. The puck deflected off of Yannick Weber’s skate and into the open side to pull the Senators to within one goal.

Then, with just over a minute to go in the frame, a point shot deflected off of Chris Tanev’s leg and landed right on the stick of Zibanejad. Zibanejad made a nice move on Eddie Lack, and tucked the puck home on his backhand to tie the game at 3-3. This would encourage the Senators to keep pressing into the 3rd period, as Erik Karlsson would hit the post on a rush and Eddie Lack would rob Mike Hoffman on a one-time scoring chance as well.

The best scoring chance of the third actually came from the Canucks though, as Radim Vrbata poked a loose puck through Craig Anderson and in to the Senators net, however the referee had blown play dead as he had lost sight of the puck. Vrbata was really not happy about the call:

Lack held the Canucks in the game until overtime, but he couldn’t fend off one last Erik Karlsson chance in the final frame. I normally don’t include non-Canuck goals in this space because I’m a horribly biased homer, but Erik Karlsson had a monster night:

Sens come all the way back from 0-3 to take it 4-3 in overtime.

The Numbers

G28 v Ottawa

Courtesy of NaturalStatTrick.com

First thing’s first, let’s take a look at the massive effect that Ottawa’s seven powerplays had on this game. Above is the ES Corsi chart. It shows a fairly back-and-forth affair with the home side taking over near the very end of the game. Here’s what powerplays do:

G28 v Ottawa2

Ottawa goes from a +10 Corsi (+53/-43) at EV to a staggering +41 Corsi overall (+89/-48). It was a pretty brutal night in terms of workload for Eddie Lack, and probably Vancouver’s worst defensive performance of the year, considering the offensive futility of their opponents. Coming into tonight, the Sens had a middling powerplay, ranked 28th in the NHL in 5v5 GoalsFor/60, and 27th in 5v5 ShotsFor/60.

Erik Karlsson was a monster for the home side though, as he had twenty-three shot attempts all by himself, which is the most a defenseman has ever registered in one game in the analytics era. He did this while playing 28:01 with a 64.3% Corsi (+27/-15), crushed the Canucks top two lines, and scored the overtime game winner. Mika Zibanejad may have been the first star, but Karlsson was the best player on the ice tonight.

As for the Canucks, their fourth line outplayed Ottawa’s and the Sedins owned the puck against everyone other than Karlsson, but it was an otherwise forgettable night. The middle-6 was torched at even strength by the Sens, and Bieksa and Sbisa had their second regrettable outing in a row. It’s nothing to worry about in the short term since this group has been a large part of Vancouver’s success this season, but it’s still disheartening against an opponent that has struggled like Ottawa has.

The Conclusion

The longest road trip of the year comes to an end this Tuesday as Vancouver battles the Montreal Canadiens in the Habs first game at home since the passing and funeral of Jean Beliveau. The Habs will surely honour one of their all time greats, and it’s guaranteed to be an emotional night in Montreal.

But, two points are on the line all the same, and Vancouver will be determined to come home from this road swing with an above .500 record.

  • Fred-65

    Arraghaaraw!

    That was me venting. Thank you.

    It was like we Edmonton Oiler’d once that game hit the midway point – bad turnovers, bad clearance attempts, bad powerplays, bad penalty kills.

    The point tally is actually fair though, we get 1 point for winning the first half of the game, they get 1 point for winning the second half of the game and they get a bonus point for scoring in overtime. Time to forget about this one now….

  • Fred-65

    A point on the road is generally a good thing, but that was a bad loss!

    After the fast start the Canucks went back into old habits. Once the third goal goal went in, I could literally feel the team sit back and try and run the clock out. The quick whistle on Vrbata’s potentially winning goal was a set back but the Canucks deserved to lose that game.

    They better get focused for MTL another bad game and all of a sudden the I told you so’s will start. If Lack would have played a little better I would have given him the start, but he wasn’t that special so why not Miller. Terrible beginning in TO terrible end in Ott. How about a complete game

  • Vancouver certainly didn’t play their best in the second half of this game, but that was also some of the most questionable reffing I’ve seen in a long time.

    Eddie Lack and Radim Vrbata were both great though. Hopefully Desjardins starts giving Eddie some more starts – he’s earned them.

    • Fred-65

      Eddie totally helped us weather the storm. Just no gas left for the rest of the team to repay his effort. That broken Warrior in the blog picture is kind of symbolic in my eyes. I agree, he’s earned some starts when the team is crisper. Had we any gas in the tank we probably would have pulled that one out for him.

      Back end needs help, even if it’s for a couple of games to relieve some guys of some minutes, they are starting to show some mileage. It was pretty evident in Toronto as well. Too many in-between plays and half blocks.

  • We’re still near top in the league, and our own conference. While the standings are tight there’s no need to lose our minds over two bad losses in a row.

    I trust Willie to use these games as a learning lesson for the team. Need a more disciplined game vs Sens as penalties and a half game effort caught us.

  • Over the course of a season a good offence can usually overcome a bad defense and inconsistent goaltending. At 5v5 the Canucks are still generating fenwick events (FF/60) and getting actual rubber on net (SF/60) at an elite rate and their shooting percentage is holding at a very sustainable 7.85%. So as long as the offence keeps chugging along they should win more games than they lose moving forward.

    They are still an elite team (including goaltending) with the score tied and a borderline elite team in close game situations at 5v5.

    There isn’t much to worry about moving forward. A little bump in shot suppression and a little more consistent goaltending sure wouldn’t hurt though.

  • Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes, when the home team appears to be getting blown out of the building, the refs kinda take it upon themselves to throw the home team a bone or two? I think they call it “game management”. The Tanev call was definitely game management, and the Sens got game managed back into this one.

    That said, the Canucks in the past couple of games have been turning pucks over left and right in the defensive zone. Willie’s got to get on that.

  • Fred-65

    I can’t recall watching a more tired team than the Canucks on Sunday in Ottawa. players wanted off the ice and if they went down to block a shot were slow to get back up. Penalties are usually a good indicator and the two back to back 5-3’s really did a number on them. The problems is for the future, you don’t recover ( physically or mentally from that number of games ) If I was a betting man I’d plonk some money down on a NYR win when Vcr returns home

  • Fred-65

    Eddie deserves more starts, but I think Miller will benefit with rest and competition. Benning always says what a competitor he is…. Alright then prove it!

    The Canucks did drop back into one of their old habits of coasting when the game seemed out of reach. Combine that with a couple of questionable refs calls and??

    Fact is last night the Oil broke their streak against a Sharks team that is much better. It is the NHL and if you don’t play to win every night your butt will get handed to you. Hopefullyy they show what they are made of against the Habs