Ottawa Senators will have Neal nightmares after shootout loss to Nashville

 

 
 
 
 
Ottawa Senators' Curtis Lazar, left, takes a shot on Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
 
 

Ottawa Senators' Curtis Lazar, left, takes a shot on Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.

Photograph by: Sean Kilpatrick, Ottawa Citizen

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Predators 4, Senators 3 (shootout)

 The James Neal deja-vu act could give Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson and his teammates nightmares for the next few days.

Neal scored the shootout winner in the Nashville Predators’ 4-3 win over the Senators Saturday. He also beat Anderson to the stick side for power-play goals in the first and third periods.

Filip Forsberg also scored for the Predators in the shootout, while Bobby Ryan was the lone Senator to beat Predators goaltender Carter Hutton.

At least the Senators (3-2-1) got a point out of the experience — a game that Senators coach Dave Cameron called his team’s most complete performance of the season.

“That’s the way it goes over the course of 82 games,” said Cameron. “You are going to play games where you think you deserve better, and I thought we deserved better. Give Nashville credit. There are other games where you don’t play so well and you win, so those things balance out.”

The Predators were in position to win in regulation until Mike Hoffman’s second goal of the game, a slap shot from the blue-line with 3:32 remaining, tied the game 3-3.

The goal ignited the crowd of 16,895 at the Canadian Tire Centre. It also allowed the home crowd to receive its first taste of 3-on-3 overtime.

The Senators owned the puck for the bulk of the extra session, but couldn’t find the one prime scoring chance they were looking for against Hutton. The Predators enjoyed a 4-on-3 edge to finish the overtime, following a poor officiating call that landed Ryan in the penalty box for interference. Cameron chose to stay mum on the subject of penalties, no doubt also disturbed by the questionable tripping call Kyle Turris received to set up Neal’s second goal of the game.

It was almost identical to the first. Neal was left untouched to the right of Anderson, deftly tucking the puck into the far corner past the Senators’ goaltender.

“It’s something that we’re working on,” Anderson said. “We’ll address it and try to fix some holes in our game. At the moment, special teams are a big part of this game, and if you usually win the special-teams battle, you usually win the game.”

The Senators are facing a long week of practice before Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, and chief among the concerns is the parade to the penalty box. The Senators came into the game leading the NHL in minor penalties, and they played with fire Saturday by allowing the Predators too many man-advantage opportunities.

While the Senators had been guilty of allowing too many shots and glaring defensive miscues in their opening five games of the season, they were much cleaner and sharper Saturday — at least in even-strength situations — controlling large portions of the game. They outshot the Predators 41-25.

They were on the verge of taking a lead into the third period when a ghastly defensive error wiped out a late second-period lead.

Craig Smith’s goal with 2:03 remaining in the second — Ryan failed to chip Patrick Wiercioch’s clearing attempt out of the zone — tied the game 2-2. The goal put a mustard stain on what had been an outstanding period by the Senators.

A mere 15 seconds into the period, Mark Stone finished off a pretty passing play with Kyle Turris and Hoffman, tying the game 1-1.

The Senators’ No. 1 line then struck again, with Hoffman blasting a slap shot that deflected off the stick of Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis, handcuffing Hutton.

Stone and Turris both picked up assists on the goal, giving them eight points and a temporary spot tied atop the league scoring race.

The Smith goal, however, gave life to a Predators team that was outshot 13-7 and on its heels for most of the second period.

The Senators were dealt a bad break before the game, as top pairing defenceman Marc Methot was a last-minute scratch due to the flu.

Rookie Chris Wideman took his spot, making his NHL debut.

The change resulted in a shuffling of the defence pairings, with Mark Borowiecki jumping up to play alongside Erik Karlsson, while Wideman took Borowiecki’s previous spot beside Jared Cowen.

“I think it was two weeks to the day since I last played, so it was an adjustment, but at the same time I had never played an NHL game, and if you’re not ready for that, then you’ve got bigger problems,” said Wideman, who finished with 14:11 of ice time, including some time during overtime. “I was just so excited, so excited for friends and family watching at home, former teammates, former coaches. It was just a special moment for everyone.”

At the other end, the Senators didn’t have to face Pekka Rinne, the Predators’ all-time winningest goaltender and one of the league’s top netminders. But Hutton, seeing his first action of the season, was sharp throughout.

Neal opened the scoring on the power play at the 9:49 mark, only the second shot against Anderson. Hutton closed the door late in the first. He made two outstanding leg saves off Curtis Lazar in the final seconds. Lazar finally did beat Hutton, but it came a split second after time expired in regulation.

 GAME FILE

 WHY THEY LOST: Fittingly, perhaps, it was James Neal who scored the game-winning shootout goal. Neal also scored two in regulation time.

 CHEERS: Mike Hoffman, Senators: Part of the red-hot first line, Hoffman scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 3:32 left.

 JEERS: Senators penalty killing: Twice Neal was left all alone on the doorstep to score power-play goals.

 

 
 
 
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Ottawa Senators' Curtis Lazar, left, takes a shot on Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
 

Ottawa Senators' Curtis Lazar, left, takes a shot on Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.

Photograph by: Sean Kilpatrick, Ottawa Citizen

 
Ottawa Senators' Curtis Lazar, left, takes a shot on Nashville Predators' goaltender Carter Hutton during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
The Ottawa Senators' Mika Zibanejad and the Nashville Predators' Gabriel Bourque battle for the puck during the first period.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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