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Mendes: 10 games that likely cost Senators a playoff spot

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Ian Mendes
3/17/2014 12:00:11 PM
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Most Senators fans are still reeling from Saturday night's epic collapse against the Montreal Canadiens, when their team became the first in NHL history to lose a game in which they had a three-goal lead in the final five minutes.

The loss was painful on so many levels and seemed to put a definitive nail in the coffin when it came to the Senators' playoff chances. And while it's easy to point to that loss as the one that killed the team's post-season hopes, it was merely the final straw in a season-long string of disappointments.

That collapse against Montreal was spectacular and historic (for the wrong reasons), but it wasn't an anomaly when it comes to the 2013-14 Ottawa Senators. On too many occasions this season, this team squandered opportunities to get two points – either settling for one or being blanked altogether.

Here is a look at the 10 games that will likely cost the Senators a playoff spot this season:

1) October 5th – 5-4 shootout loss at TOR

Just 24 hours after shutting out the Buffalo Sabres in the season opener, the Senators jumped out to a 4-2 lead against the Maple Leafs midway through the second period. But with time running out in that frame, Joffrey Lupul scored a goal to pull the Leafs to within one goal heading into the third period. And in what would become an eerie preview of what to expect defensively throughout the season, the Senators would allow the Leafs to tie the game – and then win it in a shootout.

2) November 1st – 5-4 shootout loss vs NYI

The Senators managed to blow a two-goal lead twice in this game, squandering 2-0 and 4-2 advantages. And knowing what we know about the 2013-14 New York Islanders now, this loss looks even more ridiculous in hindsight. Adding to the lunacy of this night was the fact the Senators surrendered 57 shots on goal to New York. That's not a typo.

3) December 10th – 2-1 shootout loss at BUF

Granted, the Senators played the night before and beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a spirited shootout on home ice. But the Sens looked pretty average against the NHL's worst team the very next night and managed to score only a single goal. The offensive malaise even extended into the shootout, which required 10 rounds before the Sabres eventually won it.

4) December 19th – 4-2 loss vs FLA

This was another costly loss to an Eastern Conference lightweight – only it was more damaging because it occurred in regulation time. The Senators led this game 2-1 after the first period and should have been sparked by a brilliant highlight reel goal from Jason Spezza. Instead, the Panthers scored twice in the final 2:32 of the game to stun the Sens with a 4-2 victory. Ottawa was on the power play with a chance to tie the game in the final 90 seconds, but allowed a 2-on-1 the other way and Tomas Kopecky buried them with a shorthanded goal.

5) December 21st – 4-3 overtime loss vs PHX

Former Senator Antoine Vermette killed the Senators in this matinee game, as he scored a hat trick – which was capped off with the overtime winner. The Senators actually held a 2-0 lead in this game and also had a 3-2 advantage with under three minutes to play in the third period. This game may have been the best microcosm for the Sens penchant for sloppiness in afternoon games.

6) January 8th – 4-3 overtime loss at COL

Once again, the Senators were less than three minutes away from a regulation time victory, only to have disaster strike. Paul Stastny scored the tying goal with just over two minutes left and then Tyson Barrie scored the overtime winner 33 seconds into the extra frame. The Sens allowed two goals in the span of about three minutes with the game on the line. Instead of skating out of Denver with two points, they had to settle for just one.

7) January 16th – 5-4 overtime loss vs MTL

You can actually make a sound argument that the Senators were fortunate to take one point out of this game, considering the Habs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. But Ottawa fought back with four straight goals and appeared to be in complete command of this game – until Jared Cowen accidentally put the puck into his own net after Craig Anderson stopped Tomas Plekanec on a breakaway. PK Subban then scored just 23 seconds into overtime, with a celebration that seemed to irk the Sens. Sadly, this was not the most painful 5-4 overtime loss they would endure against the Habs this season.

8) February 1st – 6-3 loss at TOR

In a case of déjà vu, the Senators once again found themselves with a two-goal lead at the Air Canada Centre – only to watch it evaporate quickly. The Senators had a 2-0 lead, but Toronto tied the game in the second period, thanks in large part to a controversial play. Nazem Kadri drilled Sens defenseman Cody Ceci behind the net with a hit that many felt was illegal, but play went right on and Kadri took the puck and set up Joffrey Lupul for the tying goal. The Sens never seemed to recover from that turn of events and the Leafs scored four times in the third period to beat Ottawa.

9) March 4th – 3-2 loss at EDM

Like every other game on this list, the Senators held the lead – jumping out 1-0 early thanks to a Jason Spezza goal. Fresh off a win at the Heritage Classic in Vancouver two days earlier, the Senators should have had some momentum for this game against the lowly Oilers. Instead – in what turned out to be a damn good audition before the trade deadline – Ales Hemsky scored twice to pace the Oilers to a 3-2 victory.

10) March 15th – 5-4 overtime loss at MTL

It's still a little too soon to talk about this game.

Craig Anderson (Photo: Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Chuck Myers/MCT via Getty Images)
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