The Ottawa Senators concluded their three-game Western Canadian road trek Sunday evening in Vancouver, tying the game late in the third period, but eventually suffering a 2-1 overtime loss to the Canucks. Ottawa finishes the road trip picking up five of a possible six points.
Going into Sunday night's game, the Canucks and Senators were both in 11th place in their respective conferences -- something most people would not have predicted before the season started, as many predictions included the Canucks on top of the West and the Senators dead-last in the East.
The first half of the game resembled the kind of action people would expect. The Canucks received the first two power plays of the game and controlled the momentum. Three minutes into the second period, Vancouver took advantage of the spacey defensive zone coverage by the Senators' penalty kill to make a clean entry and after a series of crisp passes, Henrik Sedin netted his team-leading seventh goal of the year.
Vancouver continued to handle the game, as Ottawa, who went 0-for-5 on the power play still had difficulty setting up with the man advantage. However, once the Senators received their third power play of the night, they started to earn more quality chances, and ended up finishing the second period out-chancing the Canucks 10-6.
Following the game-tying goal, the pace evened out and neither team scored again until the 2:18 mark of overtime when Chris Higgins tipped in a Dan Hamhuis slapshot from the point, also obtaining a team-high seventh goal of the season.
Despite the victory, the Canucks continue to struggle to play consistently. It is early on, and as always, the Western Conference is rather tight. But for a team that many had topping their division in a landslide, they appear to only be remnants of the team that appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals this spring.
In the Senators' camp, however, they should be glad to have been able to etch out the result they did tonight. Despite losing in overtime, the Sens posted a 2-0-1 record on their three-game road trip with solid wins over the Flames and Oilers, and earning a point against the Canucks -- supposedly the better of the three teams.
It also helped that backup goaltender Alex Auld was solid, earning the second star of the game. Jason Spezza, although only a small factor tonight, has been a big part of Ottawa's offense all year and keeping him healthy has been a large part of that. Not saying the Sens are playoff candidates, but for a team folks had in last place in the Eastern Conference, they're doing all right, now in eighth place ahead of the vaunted Washington Capitals.
Early-season hockey is so fun, right?