The Ottawa Senators’ five-game trip got off to a rocky start in more ways than one.
The Senators, who had won five games in a row to pull within three points of the Eastern Conference’s second and final wild-card playoff position, opened their Western Conference trek with a 5-0 loss Monday at Chicago, which has the second-worst record in the NHL.
Ottawa will look to get back on track Thursday night against the host Seattle Kraken.
“Right from the get-go, just attention to detail, odd-man rushes that we gave up … it was everything that we hadn’t done in the previous five games, we did (Monday),” Senators coach D.J. Smith said.
“It’s tough to explain how well we’ve played to come out and do this. But you’ve got to turn the page quickly.
“We were feeling so good playing at home, and then to come out here — just no rhythm, no feel, team wasn’t prepared. That’s on me. My job is to get them prepared and to push them every day, and we weren’t ready to play today.”
Goaltender Mads Sogaard made 16 saves for the Senators while taking his first regulation loss in seven appearances this season. The rookie started in place of Cam Talbot, who was a late scratch because of a lower-body injury.
The Senators announced Wednesday that Talbot is expected to miss three weeks. The 35-year-old veteran missed a month with a lower-body injury before returning Feb. 24. He won three of four starts before sustaining his latest injury.
“It (stinks) to hear what’s happening with Cam,” Sogaard said. “He’s a huge part of this hockey team and a guy that I lean on a lot, for sure, for help and all that. To not have him is definitely a hit, for sure. I’m just going to do my best to help the team win and put them in a situation to win hockey games. That’s all we can do, as goaltenders.”
Kevin Mandolese was recalled from Belleville of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis to back up Sogaard.
“It’s our toughest month, we’ve talked about it,” Smith said. “We’re 2-1 (so far). No game can be bigger than another one. At the time, they seem bigger, but you’ve got to be over .500 in March to give yourself a chance.”
The Senators will have to be much better against a Seattle team that has won five consecutive games and is just two points out of first place in the Pacific Division.
After sweeping a four-game trip, the Kraken returned home and defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Tuesday.
Jared McCann scored his team-leading 31st goal of the season and had an assist while rookie Matty Beniers had two helpers for Seattle.
“We’re in a race of our own right now,” McCann said. “We’re trying to stay ahead of (Edmonton), we’re trying to get in a better position for (the) playoffs. We need to be focused every single night. We’re going to have to play well every single night.”
This will be the second matchup between the teams this season. The Kraken won 8-4 at Ottawa on Jan. 7 despite a hat trick by the Senators’ Tim Stutzle.
–Field Level Media