Sens allow eight goals in ugly home loss to Seattle: ‘We got what we deserved’
OTTAWA — As he wrapped up his media session Saturday night, Senators defenseman Nick Holden had one final question: “What do you tell your goaltenders after a game like that?”
Holden responded with a simple, one-word apology to Anton Forsberg and Cam Talbot: “I’m sorry.”
Holden’s false sense of humor was carried by all his teammates after an 8-4 loss on home ice by the Seattle Kraken. A quick look at the box score would reveal that Forsberg and Talbot allowed those eight goals while facing just 24 shots. It marked just the second time in Senators franchise history that Ottawa scored eight goals while surrendering 25 shots or fewer. The previous occasion came on March 10, 1994, when Craig Billington and Mark LaForest combined to allow eight goals on 25 shots in an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Despite allowing Seattle to score once for every third shot it took Saturday night, the skaters in front of the goaltenders were putting most of the blame on their shoulders.
“These goalies have been our wall all season,” said Tim Stützle. “Just hanging them out to dry like that can’t happen.”
An equally exasperated Brady Tkachuk said: “We’re never going to blame the goaltenders. It is the players in front who gave up these chances. That was definitely disappointing.”
The captain added that his team’s problems were “self-inflicted” on Saturday night, but ironically, the Senators were not in penalty trouble at any point in the contest. Seattle had just one power play opportunity the entire game. Surprisingly, all eight of Seattle’s goals came at even strength, so it’s not like he had a scorching power play on a bloated night on the scoreboard.
The Senators were aware of Seattle’s five-on-five scoring acumen entering this contest. During their three-day break, coach DJ Smith repeatedly pointed out that Seattle was the third-best five-on-five team in the NHL, outscoring opponents 93-67 in that situation.
After Saturday’s offensive outburst, the Kraken are the first NHL team to eclipse the 100-goal plateau with a five-on-five record. By contrast, the Senators have scored just 63 goals at five-on-five – good for 29th in the league. For Senators fans who haven’t stayed up late to watch Seattle games, the Kraken gave a thorough look at why they’re holding a 10.8 five-on-five shooting percentage this season — by far the best mark in the league.
“They are one of the teams with the most five-on-five goals. So they showed us they can score,” Holden said. “I didn’t think we were very good in any of the areas. We gave them a lot of speed and space through the neutral zone. In the D zone, we were letting them shoot from the high-possession zone.”
It was also the third time in franchise history that Ottawa allowed eight straight goals without surrendering a power play score.
8 draws, 0 PP goals against
January 7, 2023 against SEA
Apr 9, 1994 @ WAS
December 17, 1992 @ NYI
When comparable box scores bring up games from the early 1990s Senators, you know that’s a major red flag. And Smith didn’t mince words when he spoke to reporters after Saturday night’s bombings.
“You only win by playing solid defense in this league,” Smith said. “We scored four goals. Four goals should win every time in this league if you look after the ball and control.”
But the goalkeepers share some of the blame for Saturday’s result. It was the first time this season that Smith scored a goal in the first period. After Forsberg allowed a redirected point shot to beat it and give Seattle a 3-1 lead at 15:13 of the opening frame, Smith decided to make a change in goal. The coach motioned to Talbot sitting at the end of the bench as the Kraken players celebrated Justin Schultz’s goal. Forsberg’s night was done as he allowed three goals on just five shots.
Then Talbot came on in relief and promptly surrendered five goals on 19 shots. It was hardly the desired result from the wrinkle swings. At the end of the evening, Talbot stood before reporters and spoke on behalf of the Ottawa netminders.
“It was a difficult night for both of us. We’ll both take the heat in this one. I know I can talk about it. “He’s just as responsible as I am,” Talbot said. “When you score four goals in a hockey game, your goalie has to be able to make the saves to win the rest of the game.”
It was the fifth time this season that Smith has made a goalie change in a game.
The Senators goalie retires this season
GoalieDate/Opponent PerformanceTime of PullGame result
January 7 – VSM
3 goals in 5 shots
15:13 of the first period
Dec. 6 vs. LA
5 goals in 14 shots
12:34 of the second period
November 21st @ SJ
3 goals in 7 shots
4:43 of the second period
November 19 – NJ
3 goals in 18 shots
3:00 of the second period
November 3 against VGK
5 goals in 19 shots
10:14 of the second period
Neither replacement has been the catalyst for a win, but there were some hopeful signs on Saturday. After Smith converted, Ottawa was trailing 3-1 at the first intermission. Stützle then continued his fiery pace, scoring twice in less than two minutes to tie the game in the second half. Stützle’s first goal was the result of a piece of lucky candy, as Brandon Tanev’s clearing effort bounced off Stützle’s right foot and inadvertently beat goalkeeper Martin Jones.
Then, 1:59 after that, Stützle scored a more traditional goal, tapping home a rebound off a Thomas Chabot punt and tying the game at 3-3.
And with the Senators playing in front of a crowd of 19,347 at the Canadian Tire Centre, it suddenly felt like the energy and momentum was completely in Ottawa’s favor. But as public address announcer Jon Trottier was announcing Stützle’s second goal over the sound system, the Kraken broke Ottawa’s momentum with a crushing goal.
Kraken defenseman Will Borgen slid the puck past Jake Sanderson at the Seattle blue line, allowing Daniel Sprong to come down the right wing on a two-on-one rush. With Travis Hamonic dropping the pass option, Sprong opted to simply hook a wrister past Talbot on the short side. Sprong was able to release his shot a split second before a Drake Batherson reached him. Sprong’s shot was laced with such power and precision that it took Talbot and the lineman more than 10 seconds to get the puck out of the Ottawa net because it was so tightly pinned.
Despite Sprong’s brilliance on that play, Talbot said he could have changed the game by making a stop.
“I make a save on that two-on-one and it could have been a completely different game. I should have been better and I wasn’t,” Talbot said. “There is no excuse from my end. I needed to give us a better chance to win and I just didn’t do that.”
“Mostuumi gets away from you right away,” Smith said of Sprong’s goal.
Ottawa left wing Tim Stützle scores one of his three goals Saturday against Seattle. (Marc DesRosiers/USA Today)
From there, the Kraken scored four more goals. Ottawa responded with another score — a third-period marker by Stützle to complete his second career NHL hat trick. Stützle’s first hat-trick occurred during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, when fans were not allowed into NHL venues. So when he returned home from Winnipeg after scoring a hat trick on May 9, 2021, Stützle was serenaded with hats by neighborhood kids.
This time, Stützle had the opportunity to score a hat trick when his team was trailing by three goals. While he appreciated the home fans throwing their hats onto the ice to celebrate the occasion, Stützle was more concerned about his team coming up empty in the scoring column.
“In the end, I would trade any of these goals just to win tonight,” Stützle said.
On so many occasions, Smith has stood at the podium and extolled the virtues of his team’s core numbers after a loss. But even though the Senators once again had the best underlying numbers in this game according to Natural Stat Trick — including holding a 58.94 field goal percentage and 54.21 expected goals for percentage — the coach was in no mood for pretty stats after the humbling loss. .
“We wanted a free-flowing offense and we paid for it,” Smith said. “And we got what we deserved tonight.”
“I just don’t think we deserved it tonight,” Stützle added. “Just too many mistakes.”
(Feature photo of Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg: Justin Tang / The Canadian Press via AP)