What a day. Erik Karlsson played his first game in 71 days and it seemed as if the entire fan base was awash with excitement. Världens bästa Karlsson certainly did not disappoint the fans.
Karlsson got his first shift 32 seconds into the game and he got his first shot on goal 44 seconds into the game. The Capitals had the better chances in a rather uneventful first period. The closest either team came to scoring was Alex Ovechkin being set up for a one timer that Jakob Silfverberg broke up just in time. Shots on goal were 10-7 in favour of the capitals.
The Senators got on the board midway through the second period on Silfverberg's 10th goal of the season, deflecting Karlsson's (!!!) point shot into the net. To be quite honest, if it wasn't for Karlsson's return, the first two periods were quite dreadful. There wasn't a whole lot going on with Washington having little to play for. Shots were 9-6 in Ottawa's favour in the second and 16-16 in total.
In the third period, the Senators simply took over and the Capitals began to self destruct. First Ovechkin took a slashing penalty on Colin Greening and soon after that ended, John Erskine would get two minutes for roughing. The Senators power play was looking much better, no longer simply content to put a man in front of the net and hope for the best. With Karlsson back, Ottawa was able to move the puck around and Silfverberg found himself wide open in the slot but was stopped by Michal Neuvirth.
The Senators were outshooting the Capitals 14-0 in the first 8:25 of the third period but then Ovechkin happened. Marcus Johansson flipped the puck by Eric Gryba towards Ovechkin on the right side. Chris Phillips was caught flat footed and Ovechkin blew by him. Craig Anderson for his part did not play it too well, bit too hard and left Ovechkin an empty net.
Fortunately for Ottawa, the Capitals would continue to be undisciplined and with five minutes left in the game, Mike Ribeiro was called for hooking. Ottawa wouldn't score on that, but Ribeiro decided to give the Senators another chance with a minute left by deciding to give Kyle Turris a mugging for no apparent reason. Ottawa wouldn't score in regulation, but with the power play converting to a 4-on-3 in overtime, Sergei Gonchar's slapshot (from a Karlsson pass) would send the Senators to the playoffs.
The Senators outshot the Capitals 23-4 in the third period and 2-0 in the overtime. Final shots were 41-20.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Karlsson was 71 days removed from his last NHL game and exactly 10 weeks to the day he had surgery for a 70% cut on his achilles tendon. Was he eased into the lineup? Not exactly. He played 27:11 in total, but that included 9:16 of power play time. He had two assists, eight shots on goal, and another four shots that were blocked. Ottawa was +15 in Corsi and so was Karlsson, meaning today was exactly with Karlsson off the ice. Despite the 27 minutes, it was a pretty well managed start. Of the 17:55 in even strength ice time, Karlsson saw 9 offensive zone face-offs and 5 in the defensive zone. His skating isn't exactly like it was before the injury, but he had more than one smooth rush up the ice. It was beautiful to see.
Sens Hero: Sergei Gonchar
Gonchar scored the goal that sent the Senators into the playoffs. Got to be a hero for that right?
Sens Hero: Jakob Silfverberg
Silfverberg scored the game's opening goal, had another goal that was correctly disallowed, saved an Ovechkin goal in the first period, and had numerous chances on the power play.
- The Senators currently sit in sixth place and can clinch sixth place with three points in their final two games. They can clinch 7th at the worst (and avoid Pittsburgh) if they beat Philadelphia before a shootout on Saturday.
- Ottawa can still finish fifth with two wins and a Toronto regulation loss against Montreal.
- The Senators swept the season series with Washington winning all three games. As of right now, there is a 47% chance that the two clubs will meet in the first round.
- Ovechkin has scored 22 goals in 20 games now. That's a quarter of a regular sized season.
- Kyle Turris hit the post once more. Poor guy.
- Gonchar is tied with Turris for the team lead with 26 points (not counting Conacher). The 26 points in 43 games for Gonchar translate to 50 points over 82 games.