Craig Anderson seems to have mixed up the point of a contract year. After all, most Senators fans were scratching their heads when he was signed to a three-year extension this summer that would see him in the capital until 2017-18. Most expected the Robin Lehner era to have arrived by that point. However, with an extension already in tow, Andy put in another performance for the ages, stopping all 35 shots from the Minnesota Wild en route to a 3-0 victory.
The first period started off well for Ottawa, with them drawing the game’s first two penalties. Minnesota showed their superb defence, preventing Ottawa from getting a single shot on goal in either man advantage. The Wild also showed why they are the best team in the league in a variety of possession stats, nearly doubling Ottawa in shots 9-5. The Sens did have more shots attempts, but when factoring out Ottawa’s 3-1 powerplay differential, Minnesota carried the play in that regard too. Fortunately for the Sens, they finished the period 0-0.
The second started eventfully, with Marco Scandella deciding to jump Mark Borowiecki. Borocop got a fighting major, but Scandella got 5, plus 2 for instigating, plus a 10-minute misconduct. The Wild were well on their way to killing off another penalty, when Erik Karlsson did what he does best: make things happen. He set up Bobby Ryan, who set up Clarke MacArthur for a pretty first goal of the evening. A little bit after that, the Mike Hoffman took a nothing shot from the point that squeaked through Niklas Backstrom. A little bit of help from the post, and some great play by Anderson put the Sens up 2-0 entering the third, despite a shot differential of 19-9 for Minnesota.
Early into the third period, some solid zone play by The Kid Line™ set up Hoffman for his second of the night. That pretty much did it for the night. The Wild didn’t get much in the way of scoring chances or quality shots after that, and when necessary, Andy stood tall. Final shots 35-17 for Minnesota, but Ottawa won where it matters: cost-per-point. Oh, and in the score.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
What else can be said? 35 save shutout. Andy! Andy! Andy!
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
Two goals on the night, keeping up the Kid Line's goal-per-game pace. He also showed flashes of speed, and the ability to make the right quiet play at all times. All this in 10:24 total ice time.
Honourable Mentions: Curtis Lazar and Mark Stone
They kept up their great play, each posting an assist, and justifying MacLean's risk to put the rookies together. Not to mention that they were at times playing together on the penalty kill.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
He finished with a +11.11% EV Corsi Rel on the night. This team is so much better with him on the ice, it's not even funny. He also had a secondary assist of beauty on MacArthur's goal.
Dishonourable Mention: Alex Chiasson, Mika Zibanejad, Milan Michalek
They finished with EV Corsi For percentages of 15.38%, 7.69, and 7.14 respectively. That's simply unacceptable. I don't know if it's in the team's best interest to keep these three together much longer.
Wild Killer: Niklas Backstrom
The goal to Hoffman was so soft even the NHL.com recap called it soft, and despite the Lazar screen on the third goal, he probably wishes he'd got down sooner. It's a good thing Darcy Kuemper has played so well, because Backstrom is showing his age.