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Against All Odds, Condra Propels Senators to Victory over Blues

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A recap of the Senators game vs. the Blues on November 25th.

Gryba, shown perfecting his hide-and-seek game
Gryba, shown perfecting his hide-and-seek game
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Condra had a game for the ages, even if the refs conspired to try to take it away from him. The Senators were playing the Blues for the second time in four days. The Sens came in on a two-game losing streak, having played the Blues close on Saturday, and then having hardly played against the Red Wings on Monday. However, score effects are a funny thing, and somehow the Sens only lost by a goal in each game.

The Sens dressed Erik Condra and Colin Greening in place of Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad, whether due to injuries or disappointing play, no one knows. Robin Lehner was starting his third game of the Sens last four, meaning he was the starter for the Sens' in four straight games against the Blues.

The first powerplay of the game went to the Blues, with Patrick Wiercioch off for interference. The Sens managed to outshoot the Blues 3-0 on the penalty kill. Erik Condra also scored his first goal in what seems like forever, except the referees blew the whistle very quickly, just before the puck squeaked through Brian Elliott so Condra could tap it in to the empty net. Lucky break St Louis. The Blues also put the puck in the net on the powerplay, except there was incidental contact with Robin Lehner which he sold magnificently to get the goal disallowed.

Ottawa continued this season's tradition of allowing a St Louis player's first goal of the season by allowing Ian Cole to score, assisted by Ryan Reaves and Maxim Lapierre somehow. I bet Lapierre wishes he could play Ottawa more than twice per season. Cole's point shot deflected in off Erik Karlsson, and the Sens looked sloppy on the play.

Another notable moment of the first period was Karlsson getting elbowed in the face by a linesman. Finally, with two minutes left, Zack Smith and Barret Jackman started pushing each other. Smith dropped his gloves, which should have given him a penalty, but the refs decided that because Lapierre had been pushing Smith from behind, Jackman should get an off-setting minor. The period ended 4-on-4, with shots 9-8 for Ottawa.

The second period started slowly, with the teams trading powerplay chances but nothing happening. After a shot on goal, David Backes decided to jump Kyle Turris, all other players on the ice jumped in, and the teams went back to 4-on-4. On that play, Curtis Lazar showed he's not quite at Vladimir Tarasenko's development level yet. The latter deked around the former, except Lazar's knee stopped Tarasenko from getting completely around, leading to a tripping penalty. This led to a Blues 4-on-3 powerplay goal by Alex Steen.

The Sens got one back later, except the referees decided to take it away (again). Condra was thrown over top of Elliott by Chris Butler, knocking Elliott down. Chris Neil threw the puck under Elliott, which Butler kicked into the net. The whistle clearly went after the puck entered the net. However, the refs went to video review, and then decided incidental contact had taken place, even though I don't think that's even reviewable. And it's very hard to see a player being thrown into a goalie by the opposing defenceman as "incidental". Aaron Ward at the intermission was adamant it should've been an Ottawa goal. Condra was the victim of poor refereeing taking away a goal for the second time in as many periods. Elliott was injured on the play and Jake Allen had to come in.

Late in the period, Eric Gryba was shoving Lapierre, but Lapierre refused to drop the gloves, so instead Reaves fought Gryba and won handily. A minute later, Kevin Shattenkirk threw a huge legal check on Smith, and Greening felt the need to cross-check Shattenkirk in the back. #Greenership. Greening went to the box, but thankfully the Sens killed that one. A period that started slowly finished with a lot of bad blood, setting up for what would likely be a nasty third period. The Sens were outshot in the period, but only 10-7, so after last night, we'll say that's good.

Turris took a penalty 30 seconds into the third, and it was a completely unnecessary holding penalty at centre ice. Luckily, the penalty kill was very organized and gave the Blues nothing. Then Steve Ott showed that Turris isn't the only one who can take dumb penalties, grabbing David Legwand's stick for several seconds after a face-off. Ottawa's best chance on the powerplay came right at the end, when MacArthur got a Cody Ceci rebound in too close to get a great shot away.

Ottawa finally got on the board because of (who else) Erik Condra. He tipped a Gryba point shot off the underside of the crossbar and in. It was an impressive goal for a guy not known for his goal-scoring.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Is that an &quot;Erik Condra hat trick&quot;? Get 3 but only 1 counts.</p>&mdash; Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) <a href="https://twitter.com/TSNSteveLloyd/status/537445430242840577">November 26, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

On a penalty to Joakim Lindstrom, Karlsson hit the post from the point. The Sens were pressing, but you started to get the feeling that they were going to run out of chances. A team like St Louis doesn't give up a lot defensively.

With 1:40 left, an offensive-zone face-off win allowed Karlsson to take a point shot, which Alex Chiasson tipped against the post. Then a cross-zone pass to Bobby Ryan didn't lead to a goal only because of some great goaltending by Allen. But Ottawa still had a small bit of luck left. Jackman's stick broke, which allowed the Sens to keep the puck in the zone. Mike Hoffman threw the puck on net, and it squeaked through Allen. This time, the refs seemed to have learned their lesson, and waited. Chiasson tucked the loose puck in behind Allen to send the game to overtime.

It's a cliché to say that OT is all about that bass skill, but this OT definitely was. In a game that had been chippy and rough all night, it was amazing to watch rapid-fire end-to-end action. Bobby Ryan hit the post, Kyle Turris forced Allen into an impressive glove save, and Lehner stopped everything that came his way. I don't know about you, but I would've watched another 10 minutes of that instead of a shootout.

Noted shootout wizard TJ Oshie disappointed upon opening the skills competition, making no move and wristing a weak shot into Lehner's chest. Actually, nobody scored until the final shooter, Bobby Ryan, roofed it. Sens come back to win 3-2 in the shootout. Final shots: 33-29 for Ottawa (!!).

Sens Hero: Erik Condra

He should've had a Gordie Howe hat-trick before his third-period goal counted. However, he did get a goal, killed penalties well, finished with a 90% share of the even-strength shot attempts, and proved that the Sens can ill-afford to scratch him again. Too bad I don't know who comes out for him.

Sens Hero: Robin Lehner

Isn't it nice to have a game where the biggest hero wasn't the goalie? Still, Lehner finished with a .931 save percentage and came up big in OT and the shootout to give the Sens a victory. This win doesn't happen without him.

Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan

He didn't finish with any points, but his play grew as the game went on. He also should have won the game in overtime but couldn't beat the post. Apparently, Coach agreed with me, because he gave Ryan a second chance to win the game in the shootout and that time he made no mistake.

Honourable Mention: Mike Hoffman

I'll readily admit, I have an inHofftuation. Still, he looked great tonight, registering an assist on the game-tying goal, to go with four shots. How many times did he burst into the zone, cut to the middle, then either rip a shot on net or make a great pass? Only issue was the dumb cross-checking penalty he took when the Sens were down by one.

Fancy-Stats Darling: Chris Neil

He was on for 14 Corsi-for events and 0 against. Read that again: zero. Looks he like he is a defensive specialist after all.

Dishonourable Mention: Missed shots

The Sens led in shots by four at the end of the game, but led 74-47 in total shot attempts in the game (all situations). The Sens missed the net 16 times, and had another 25 shots blocked. By comparison, St Louis had 18 missed and blocked shots combined. Having your shots fail to hit the net so often doesn't bode well for your chances.

Sens Zero: Nobody!

Nobody looked bad tonight, and the worst possession player on the team, Patrick Wiercioch, finished at 50% EV Corsi-for. That's impressive for the team as a whole, especially since the Blues are no slouch of an opponent. Easily Ottawa's best possession game of the year.

Sens Killer: Maxim Lapierre

This guy antagonized the Sens all night, drawing a penalty from Zack Smith (that the refs curiously turned into a 4-on-4) and working Gryba up into wanting to fight. This guy gets Ottawa off their game, being physical and annoying. It reminds me of how Montreal gets under Boston's skin every time they play. And it almost worked tonight.

Sens Killer: Kevin Shattenkirk

He only got one assist, but also threw a monstrous hit that drew a retaliation penalty, and broke up two Sens' shorthanded chances in the third to maintain his team's lead. Big game for the guy I wish we'd been able to get for Jason Spezza.

That beautiful game-flow chart:

B_T's shot doughnut: