The Carolina Hurricanes escaped with two points against the Ottawa Senators on a Sunday matinee matchup, where goaltending ultimately made the difference.

After 60 minutes, the Senators outshot the Hurricanes 31-29. Although they never led in the scoring department, they did manage to tie the game 4-4 in a magical second period rally.

In the end, it was not enough, as Justin Williams scored the lone third period goal on the power play to give the visiting team a 5-4 regulation victory at Canadian Tire Centre.

With the loss, Ottawa has now dropped eight straight games. Their record sinks to 15-23-5, while they remain at 35 points and last in the NHL. Meanwhile, Carolina improves to 19-17-5 and 43 points. They sit fifth in the Metropolitan Division and 20th in the league, seven points out of a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Canes Take Early Lead

Consistency has been a constant struggle for the rebuilding Senators this season. Their performance in the opening five minutes of this game compared to their last game was a prime example.

Against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, Ottawa outshot and outscored their opponents in the first frame. On Sunday, it was the exact opposite. Ottawa was outshot and outscored by their opponents. After just five minutes of play, the score was already 2-0 in favour of the Hurricanes.

Carolina received scoring support from defenseman Justin Faulk on the power play, just 1:12 into the game. Ottawa’s Zack Smith was in the penalty box for tripping only 41 seconds after the first puck drop of the game.

Less than three minutes later, the Canes struck again. This time, it was a short handed tally by Brock McGinn. The 24-year-old intercepted an errant Mark Stone pass in his zone, and sped down the ice on a breakaway, before sneaking the puck between the pads of Ottawa goalie Marcus Hogberg.

Weak Goaltending

Rookie Senators’ goaltender Hogberg was yanked by head coach Guy Boucher in the second period after allowing three goals on 16 shots. The 24-year-old finished the game with 6.87 goals against average and .813 save percentage..

In relief, Boucher called on Anders Nilsson, who started Saturday against the Wild and suffered a 4-3 loss in his Senators debut. The 28-year-old was acquired earlier last week in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Swedish native did not fair much better in relief, allowing two goals against on 13 shots, and finishing the game with a 3.68 goals against average and a .813 save per cent. To his credit, he kept the Senators competitive in the third period. He made a big pad save early in the final frame, in addition to a huge glove save on a streaking Williams from in close.

It is these back-to-back one-goal losses against the Wild and the Hurricanes where subpar goaltending has been the difference between a win and a loss for Ottawa. Despite the offensive support being present, one or two more saves is the difference between 0, or 1, or 2 points in the bank. Instead, the Senators go 0-2-0 this weekend at home, and miss out on four important points in winnable match-ups.

It’s time like these where the Sens really miss their starter, Craig Anderson, who is recovering from a concussion.

Second Period Outburst

Although the Senators never carried a lead against the Hurricanes in this match, they did manage a magical comeback in the second period to tie the game 4-4. This period saw an explosion of six goals between the teams, including two from Carolina and four from Ottawa to light the lamp behind Canes’ goaltender Petr Mrazek.

Senators’ assistant captain Matt Duchene opened the scoring for the home team. He notched his third goal in as many games, after one-timing a pass he received from Bobby Ryan. Ottawa defenseman Dylan DeMelo ignited the offensive rush off a bank pass to Ryan Dzingel, who gained zone entry into the Canes end. After showing offensive flash in the first period, it was only a matter of time before the line of Duchene, Ryan, and Dzingel cashed in.

After Jaccob Slavin scored to pull the Canes up by two, this line struck again, when Dzingel capitalized on the power play. The momentum did not last, however, as Dougie Hamilton responded for the Canes with his sixth keeping the Carolina lead safe by two.

In the final minute of play, the home team appeared touched by magic. This is when two Senators scored a pair of firsts.

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At 19:12, a line of ex-San Jose Sharks connected. This resulted in Rudolfs Balcers scoring the first goal of his NHL career assisted by Chris Tierney and Mikkel Boedker. Then, just eight seconds later, fan favourite Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his first of the campaign in his season debut. Pageau suffered a torn Achilles injury on the first day of training camp.

The goals matched the franchise record for fastest two goals scored in history. The record was established on Oct. 8, 2011, when Jason Spezza and former captain Daniel Alfredsson scored eight seconds apart in a 6-5 road loss visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Williams With The Winner

Despite that magical rally, the Senators offense hit a wall in the third period. After trailing and responding to the visiting team all afternoon, Ottawa had run out of gas. Even when given the chance with a late-game power play, they lacked urgency and squandered the opportunity.

Instead, Carolina’s Williams scored the only third period goal, which eventually became game winner. At the sound of the final horn, Carolina secured a determined road win, defeating the Senators 5-4.

Snap Shots

  • Ottawa received a big boost with the return of Pageau to their line-up. The local Ottawa native is known for his responsible two-way play, and registered 29 points (14G, 15A) in 78 games last season.
  • With Pageau’s return, Boucher opted to go with 12 forwards and six defensemcean, leaving Ben Harpur as the odd man out. The head coach opted to keep Christian Wolanin in the line-up. The 23-year-old recorded an assist, and is now riding a three game point streak (1G, 2A).
  • Ryan was in agonizing pain after blocking a shot with his hand in the third period. The forward has an extensive history of hand and finger injuries. Any injury to Ryan is a cause of concern for the already undermanned Senators. The 31-year-old is currently riding a four game point streak, including seven points in his last eight games. On the season, he has 25 (7G, 18A) points in 40 games.

Official 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Teuvo Teravainen, Carolina (2A)
  2. Justin Faulk, Carolina (1G, 1A, 3 Shots, 5 Hits)
  3. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ottawa (1G, 3 Shots, 2 Hits)

Up Next

The Sens take off for their annual California three-game road trip this week with visits in Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Their first stop is in Anaheim on Wednesday, Jan. 9 to take on the Ducks at 10pm EST.

Anaheim is 19-16-7 with 45 points, and hold the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. They sit fourth in the Pacific Division and 17th overall in the NHL. This will be Ottawa’s first match of two against them this season. The Ducks will make their visit to Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Scoring Summary

Justin Faulk (3)Teuvo Teravainen (23)
Sebastian Aho (28)
Brock McGinn (3)Unassisted

Matt Duchene (18)Bobby Ryan (18)
Christian Wolanin (2)
Jaccob Slavin (4)Victor Rask (2)
Ryan Dzingel (17)Chris Tierney (21)
Dougie Hamilton (6)Sebastian Aho (29)
Brock McGinn (8)
Rudolfs Balcers (1)Chris Tierney (22)
Mikkel Boedker (20)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1)Mark Stone (27)
Dylan DeMelo (8)
Justin Williams (9)Teuvo Teravainen (24)
Justin Faulk (12)

Cover Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.

Billy Morrison

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