FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
-Too little, too late. The Ottawa Senators mounted a furious third period rally but in the end, fell a couple goals short.? The Florida Panthers were in control of this game most of the way but the Sens found another gear in the final frame and managed to make a game of it.? In fact, if not for two or three open nets that were missed in the final five minutes of this game, the Senators would have come away with at least a point. Perhaps the Panthers were guilty of sitting back a bit in the 3rd but give the young Senators credit for fighting their way back on a night where it looked like they were going to be run out of the rink.? Their defence was atrocious and their goaltending below average but the offence continues to keep them in games. At least they are fun to watch, right?
-Safe to say that Matt Duchene is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now. Another three point effort last night. In fact, he has put up three points in three of his last five games.? Just a ridiculous stretch for the pending unrestricted free agent.? He now sits tied for 5th in league scoring with 27 points through just 21 games.? Duchene was already at the top of his game but the addition of Drake Batherson to his wing has him looking pretty much unstoppable. Speaking of which, Batherson is going to be sticking around for a little while. Two more points last night giving him five through his first three games in the show.
-It’s hard to remember a first period as strange as the one that unfolded at the CTC last night. The Senators came out flying and looked poised to take control of the game only to see the Panthers reel off three quick ones. That was followed by a scary scene in the 100 level as a fan suffered what the team called a medical emergency that required the attention of paramedics and the team’s medical staff. The man was unresponsive when he arrived at the hospital. After an early intermission, the teams returned to the ice only to see Panthers forward Vincent Trochek go down with an awful looking leg injury. Probably goes without saying but hats off to the medical personnel at the rink, including the Sens Team Doctor Don Chow, for reacting quickly to a couple scary incidents.
-There was a lot of talk about the reception Mike Hoffman would get in his return to Ottawa and in the end, it was mostly positive.? While there were some audible boos the first couple times Hoffman touched the puck, there was a nice round of applause following a well-timed video tribute in the second period. While his departure came under less than ideal circumstances, Hoffman was a damn good player for this organization and for the most part anyway, a guy who was well-liked during his time here. The drama, which remains mostly a mystery, that led to his exit from the organization really didn’t have anything to do with Hoffman’s on or off-ice role with the organization so a polite welcome-back makes sense. Perhaps we made him a little bit too comfortable as he looked right at home scoring that game-clinching 7th goal.
-Despite the disappointing result against the Panthers last night, the Senators wrap up this three game home-stand with four of a possible six points.? There are no easy games for this team right now so coming away with a couple wins is a respectable outcome. And they’ll need those points in hand if they want to keep pace in a ridiculously close Eastern Conference. The Senators are four points back of the second Wild Card spot but just six clear of last place.? Ottawa now hits the road for the next four, including stops in Minnesota, Dallas, New York and Philadelphia.? Four games in six days including a back to back to close out the trip. Safe to assume they go back to Craig Anderson on Wednesday against the Wild.