The Ottawa Senators bounced back from their blowout loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday with a spirited defeat to the St. Louis Blues on Monday (Jan. 16). The Sens, who now sit nine points out of a wild-card spot, outshot their hosts but saw their efforts thwarted by an in-form Jordan Binnington.
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The Blues took the lead just 5:30 into the first period, with Jake Neighbours driving the net and poking Calle Rosen’s pass past Cam Talbot. Noel Acciari scored the eventual game-winner at 15:06 of the first, capitalizing on a pair of defensive errors to secure the win for St. Louis.
The Senators’ Tim Stützle reduced the deficit in the middle frame, but it was the only time Binnington would be beaten. Ottawa’s record for the season is now 19-21-3. Here are The Hockey Writers’ three takeaways from last night’s loss.
Individual Errors Continue to Haunt the Senators
Talbot has been relatively solid for the Senators since he arrived from the Minnesota Wild, but it will take him a while to move on from the botched play that allowed Acciari to score the Blues’ second of the night.
“I was excited,” the Blues forward said of Talbot’s error. “[It was] good play in the [defensive] zone by Josh Leivo, getting a good chip out and making it a 50-50 puck. I was able to get a stick on it, [Talbot] fumbled it, and I cashed in. [I was] very fortunate there.”
Talbot’s play is the latest example of the Senators shooting themselves in the foot. The team outshot the Blues in the first period but found themselves down by two after a preventable mistake. While Talbot has never been particularly enthusiastic about handling the puck, he simply cannot afford to make that kind of mistake at a critical moment in the season.
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“They did a heck of a job tonight,” Talbot said when asked about his squad’s performance. “Personally, it stings that my one cough-up with the puck cost us the game and two points. Ultimately, it’s a good bounce-back game, and we probably deserved a better outcome tonight.”
Tim Stützle Breaks Four-Game Pointless Streak
Stützle was a positive versus the Blues, snapping his four-game pointless streak. The 21-year-old finished the night with one goal, six shots, and 20:08 of ice time, marking a significant improvement from his performance against the Avalanche.
“I think we played pretty well,” Stützle told reporters in St. Louis. “I think we could have deserved to win tonight, but in the end, that’s how it goes sometimes. I felt like we stuck with it. We played really good in the third as well, had so many opportunities to score. But, in the end, if we keep playing the right way, I think there will be a lot of wins.”
Stützle took his chance with aplomb, beating Binnington with a wicked one-timer from the slot. It is the kind of opportunity he needs to convert regularly if he wants to live up to his potential.
Hopefully, Stützle, who tends to produce points in bunches, can carry this momentum into the next game, which could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Senators Face Crucial Stretch to Finish January
The Senators face a crucial stretch to end the month:
- Jan. 18 .vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
- Jan. 20 @ Pittsburgh Penguins
- Jan. 21 .vs. Winnipeg Jets
- Jan. 25 .vs. New York Islanders
- Jan. 27 @ Toronto Maple Leafs
- Jan. 28 .vs. Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa is nine points out of a wild-card spot and only two points ahead of the tanking Montreal Canadiens. They are scheduled to finish the month with a stream of difficult games, including must-win contests versus teams above them in the Eastern Conference.
Unless the Senators can begin a winning streak, they will soon reach the dreaded point of no return. With the trade deadline on the horizon and the postseason out of reach, the franchise is a few weeks away from pulling the chute on this season – which is why the loss to St. Louis was so damaging.
“The effort was there,” said a deflated D.J. Smith. “Right now, the puck isn’t going in for us. Going forward, we’re going to have to score some more goals.”
Captain Brady Tkachuk added: “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but everyone left it out there tonight.”
Unfortunately, the Senators are rapidly running out of time to be valiant losers. They need to start winning now, or else this season will be considered another wasted effort from the Canadian Tire Centre club. The clock is ticking.
Luke is an award-winning freelance sports journalist from London, England. In addition to his work on the Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators for THW, he covers the Elite Ice Hockey League for British Ice Hockey and world soccer for numerous publications, including on Substack. To stay up to date with his content, follow @LukeJames_32 on Twitter.