The big story coming into the game for the Senators was injuries, since Chris Phillips, Bobby Ryan, and Alex Chiasson were all sitting. The other big story was that Craig Anderson was getting his third start in a row, the first time all season that the coach picked the same goalie for three games in a row.
If you missed this game, I'd have a hard telling you that you missed much. There were bright spots, but large parts of the game were forgettable. Neither team looked like they outright deserved to win it, so a six-round shootout was probably a fair way to decide the outcome.
The game started off quite slowly. Six minutes in, I found myself asking what had happened so far. I was amazed that such low-event hockey could pass so quickly. Eventually, the Senators drew a powerplay. For Bonk's Mullet's Sens Money on the Board (MotB) I had pledged based on every minute Chris Neil got on the powerplay, plus every minute he played in the final five minutes of regulation. Wouldn't you know it, Paul MacLean decided I was in a giving mood, and started Neil on the powerplay. 27 seconds in, Neil picked up a pass from Mika Zibanejad that Mark Stuart had overplayed, and beat Ondrej Pavelec. It was an impressive goal by Neil. Of course, the announcers had to point out that Neil didn't have a powerplay goal since December of 2011, so just in case anyone thought P-Mac was a genius for putting Neil out there, he wasn't. If you try something for long enough, it should eventually work.
Later on in the period, the Jets drew a penalty of their own with Kyle Turris sent off for high-sticking. On the ensuing powerplay, Tobias Enstrom beat Craig Anderson for his first goal allowed in 95:15 by hitting a shot off both posts and in. I guess that's how you beat a guy who's been on fire lately. The period would end 1-1, with the Jets having a 14-7 edge in shots.
Not much seemed to really happen in the second. On the bright side, the Sens managed to outshoot the Jets, 12-10. Unfortunately for pretty much anyone watching, very little that happened in this period. Both goalies were good when called upon. At this point, Coach MacLean was in full line-juggle mode, trying whoever with whoever. I have to admit, I liked the sound of most lines tried, except for the inevitable cringe when Neil's name was mentioned.
The third period was pretty slow to get going as well. It opened with Neil taking a bone-headed penalty, but the Sens went back to their recent ways of killing it off completely. Each team had opportunities with some zone time that helped to liven the game slightly. The Sens got a penalty off a bizarre tripping call on Stuart, but their powerplay failed to do much of anything. The game seemed destined for overtime.
Overtime failed to solve anything, though the Sens carried the play for large parts of it. Patrick Wiercioch, Cody Ceci, and Kyle Turris each got very good chances to end the game, that were thwarted either by missed shots or by good defensive recoveries. Erik Karlsson also seemed to be on the ice for all but ten seconds of overtime, so there's that.
The shootout failed to record a goal through the first five rounds. MacLean followed up some reasonable choices (Zibanejad, Karlsson, Turris, Milan Michalek) with some headscratchers (Colin Greening, and especially David Legwand). Personally, I would've liked to see Clarke MacArthur and Mike Hoffman get chances, with the wildcard being Curtis Lazar. But the shootout's pretty much a coinflip anyway, and the Sens lost when Mathieu Perreault scored in Round 6. Final Score: Jets 2 Sens 1, with the shots 38-37 in favour of Ottawa.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
At what point do we just consider a a .950 save percentage as average for Andy? His only goal against was unstoppable and on the powerplay. With each passing game, his extension is looking better and better.
Sens Hero: Jared Cowen
Don't look now, but Jared Cowen had the highest time on ice of any Sens player tonight. He had 9 hits and 4 takeaways, as well as positive possession stats to go along with a 42% offensive zone start percentage. In short, he was not sheltered, and played well. He also looked way more confident and competent than I've seen him recently, making smart pinches and good defensive plays. I half expected MacLean to put him out in the shootout the way he leaned on him tonight.
Jared Cowen is playing with the most confidence I have seen him with in a long, long time.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) November 9, 2014
Besides, if Ian Mendes says it, it must be true.
Honourable Mention: Mike Hoffman
He had an unreal night possession-wise, and more importantly, he was bumped up to playing with Zibanejad in an attempt to try to spark him. His speed causes problems for other teams, and I love watching him play.
Honourable Mention: Mika Zibanejad
Z-bad recovered nicely from the disaster of last game. He got his first assist of the year on the powerplay with a nice dish to Chris Neil, and he had some other good plays tonight (a 2-on-1 pass to Michalek that bounced over his stick comes to mind). I could get used to seeing more of this.
I don't know what to make of you: Chris Neil
What a night. Scores on the powerplay, pretty much setting us up for many more nights of watching him be useless with the man advantage. Credit where credit is due though, his goal was pretty nice. He also looked awful losing Andrew Ladd while he was supposed to covering for Karlsson who had pinched in. And the penalty he took to start the third was really bad. Neil, you make it hard to like you, even in games where you score.
Sens Killer: Ondrej Pavelec
Seriously, who is this guy? A .974 save percentage is unreal. He didn't make any highlight-reel saves, but he was solid all night, and made sure he wasn't the reason Winnipeg couldn't win. I thought Winnipeg's starter was supposed to be terrible. Ottawa wishes they could go back to playing against emergency call-up third-string goalies.
See-saw game flow diagram: