Senators lose again despite good effort

Considering the depth to which they had sunk in their 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals was like redemption for the Ottawa Senators — without the salvation of anything tangible to show for their effort, however.

Senators lose again despite good effort
General Manager Bryan Murray is deep in thought as the Ottawa Senators practice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, March 19, 2014, . (Photo by Wayne Cuddington/ Ottawa Citizen)

WASHINGTON — Considering the depth to which they had sunk in their 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals was like redemption for the Ottawa Senators — without the salvation of anything tangible to show for their effort, however.
They came back from a 2-0 deficit to outplay the Capitals in the second and third periods, only to be stoned by goalie Tomas Vokoun.
“We did a lot of great things,” said Daniel Alfredsson, who had a chance in the final minutes to tie the game.
“I think after what happened at home against Colorado, we had to have a bounce-back game. That’s really encouraging and gives us something to build on.”
Peter Regin scored Ottawa’s only goal, while Nicklas Backstrom, on the power play, and Marcus Johansson scored for the Capitals.
Tomas Vokoun faced 34 shots, while Alex Auld, making his first start, faced 26.
There was one casualty. Defenceman Sergei Gonchar left after the first period after getting hit in the foot by a slap shot. The seriousness of the injury isn’t yet known. He’s day-to-day.
Auld said while the effort feels good, it shouldn’t be enough.
“We can’t say it’s good because we almost beat the Capitals,” he said.
“We want to win those games. It feels good that we had a good effort, but we still lost the game.”
The Senators should have had a 1-0 lead just 3:58 into the first period on a goal by Jason Spezza, but it was disallowed because there was incidental contact with Vokoun.
Senators general manager Bryan Murray was livid at the call.
His view was that if there was interference, it was the result of a Washington player pushing his player (Milan Michalek) into Vokoun.
Spezza was upset, too.
“I was pretty surprised because I saw the whole play happen,” he said.
“Human error. The ref makes a mistake every once in a while. It happens. But it would have been nice to get the lead, especially in this building.”
One thing was certain: it was an important turning point.
A goal would have given the Senators, a fragile team after getting hammered 7-1 by the Colorado Avalanche, some well-needed confidence.
Instead, just five minutes later, the Capitals took a 1-0 lead on a power play goal from Backstrom, who completed some nice passes from Mike Knuble and Alexander Semin.
And, about three minutes later, Johansson made it 2-0 with a surprising wraparound goal that never should have happened.
Johansson swept passed Erik Karlsson on the left wing, came around the net, and jammed the puck past Auld on the right post. All a flatfooted Filip Kuba could do was flail uselessly.
Fortunately, the Senators were able to get out of the period with some hope, after Regin scored with just 25.2 seconds left in the period (the goal included an assist by David Rundblad, his first NHL point).

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WHY SENATORS LOST: They got caught napping when Marcus Johansson surprised them with a wraparound goal with eight minutes left in the first period. That proved to be the winner.

STUD: Tomas Vokoun. Without him the Capitals would have been toast in the second period. Made a big save late in the third off Daniel Alfredsson to hold onto the lead.

DUD: Alexander Semin: He picked up an assist on the first goal but he was invisible afterwards and had only one shot. Bu contrast, Alexander Ovechkin led both teams with seven shots.

TURNING POINT: Johansson’s wraparound goal at 12:01 of the first period, which gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead. It looked like the Senators on the ice weren’t expecting something like that to happen – which is exactly why it did.

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