Sharks drop Sens 6-3 but lots to build on! Give Gustavsson the crease now!
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The Ottawa Senators dropped another road game after leading 3-2 late in the second period, only to fall 6-3 in San Jose. The Sharks added two empty-net goals after scoring the go-ahead goal with under nine minutes to go that broke the 3-3 tie. The Sens have yet to win a game this season when tied or trailing going into the 3rd period. But there were many positives to draw from after a tough loss for Ottawa.
The experiment with Tim Stutzle at center tonight was one of DJ Smith's better coaching moves in his 2.5 years in Ottawa as Stutzle was outstanding! He was noticeable on every shift, his speed through the neutral zone really pinned the Sharks blueline on its ears as he created numerous scoring chances for the Sens. He was engaged physically too, and he was the Sens best forward tonight.
As many Sens fans stated when they heard about Stutzle getting a shot at center, everyone hopes he gets a long look to see if it's something that might work long-term. This team has no expectations for the season now, so why not find out where all the prospects fit going into next season. When Drake Batherson returns, I would like to see him paired with Stutzle to give those top two lines more balance.
The blueline had one of their better games, as outside of Thomas Chabot the TOI was pretty even and it provided balance as the team played in 5 man units for the most part, which was nice to see. Chabot had one of his better games and was a huge factor in generating offense for the Sens while finishing with two assists. Let's hope DJ sticks with these defense pairings in Anaheim. Having Zaitsev and Mete on the 3rd pairing got these two away from the Shark's top two lines and it limited their mistakes. Mind you, most fans will ask why Mete was on the ice with 90 seconds to go and the goalie pulled trying to tie it up? Mete dropped the puck blindly behind on the wall when nobody was on the point, which led to the first empty netter. DJ looked quite angry with Capuano on the bench as he runs the defense, so I'm sure he wondered too why Mete would be out there in a key situation.
DJ rolled 4 lines tonight, more than he has all season and I thought it provided a lot of balance which resulted in fresher legs come the third period, rather than taxing the top two lines.
When it comes to Matt Murray, he allowed 4 goals on 29 shots but on at least two of them, he got caught deep in his net again. I don't understand how the Sens goalie coach hasn't corrected this all year. This team needs a goalie to steal them a game and Murray definitely didn't come through for his team when they needed him most. Murray is still winless this year! I thought it was telling to hear DJ saying the Sharks got the goaltending and "we" didn't! With Filip Gustavsson not even dressing as the backup in SJ, you have to think he will be the starting goalie in Anaheim on Friday. Keep in mind the start time is a 4 pm EST start in Anaheim on TSN5.
I never like to talk about the men in stripes but it was hard to see the number of non-calls on the Sharks. The Austen Watson boarding call in the 3rd period was a clean shoulder to shoulder body check. But moving on, I won't dwell on the refs.
Sens fans, thoughts on the defense pairings. Would you keep it status quo next game?
Would you like to see Gustavsson start the next two games to end the road trip, to get some consistency in goal?
Thanks for reading.