The Senators have played more games than any other team in the NHL and the last couple times out you can see signs of fatigue starting to creep into their game. Mental lapses, lack of finish and questionable in-zone coverage were an issue in Anaheim and again tonight. A lot of that may also have to do with the lengthy road trip the team has been on.
The All Star Game and a few days off is coming at a perfect time for this hockey club.
It is becoming standard practice for the Ottawa Senators but for the 6th straight game, they allowed the opposition to strike first. A point shot by Willie Mitchell found a way past Craig Anderson and gave the Kings a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes.
A sloppy second period line change and some dreadful coverage around Craig Anderson and the Sens found themselves in a 2-0 hole. A 5 on 3 goal from Jack Johnson made it three and the Kings were in complete control.
Alfredsson scored his 16th of the season from Karlsson and Gonchar, cutting the lead to three, but that would be it for the Senators. I really hesitate to go on a rant about the referees when the Sens didn't play well enough to win but tonight was a unique circumstance.
After a loss to the Ducks on Saturday afternoon, Sens Head Coach Paul MacLean mentioned that official Dan O'Rourke had called Sens defenceman "a diver" and used that as justification to not make a call late in the third. Tonight in LA the Sens had the privilege of having that same referee, along with Tim Peel, call their game. In the first period alone, the Sens found themselves on the wrong end of four calls or non-calls. In the second period, Foligno was called for slashing on a play that looked an awful lot like something Dustin Brown did in the first.
The Kings scored on the 5 on 3 after a weak call on Zack Smith and then late in the second, a penalty shot was awarded in what appeared to be the most obvious of many "mistakes" made by tonight's officials. In the third, Neil took a cross check to the face from Kyle Clifford that also went uncalled.
Now I'm not suggesting O'Rourke held a grudge or perhaps that his ego took a hit when MacLean revealed something that made O'Rourke look extremely unprofessional but considering what transpired over the weekend, does it really make sense to have the same guy officiating the Senators a couple nights later? MacLean had at least one conversation with the officials during the game and was clearly unhappy with the treatment his team received.
The Sens will look to head into the break on a positive note tomorrow night in Phoenix. It will be the first time Kyle Turris has returned to Phoenix since the mid-season trade to the Senators.