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.
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:
“If he doesn’t see that from 5 feet yet he calls penalties from 200 feet?” – Vrbata on quick whistle in third
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) December 8, 2014
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.
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:
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 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.