For two periods, I had no idea what I would put in my recap, "Sens and Flyers play uneventful early January game" doesn't exactly have a great ring to it. Though Ottawa had been the better team for the majority of the first forty minutes, they were unable to sneak one by Steve Mason and found themselves in a 0-0 tie heading into the third. How uneventful were the first two periods?
Well, noted Sens Blogger/Insider/Man of Mystery SensChirp had this to say:
Seriously, have you ever REALLY thought about space? I mean, it goes on FOREVER. Good penalty kill, by the way. #Sens— SensChirp (@SensChirp) January 7, 2015
MSM Bigshot Travis "HeHateMe" Yost with the NCAA Basketball reference:
OTT/PHI feels like an NIT game.— Travis Yost (@TravisHeHateMe) January 7, 2015
What I'm trying to say is: besides a couple of good Steve Mason saves, there wasn't much to write about. The third period changed all of that with this thing of beauty by Mike Hoffman:
Was the play offside? I don't think so, but then again I'm a die-had Sens fan. I imagine most Flyers fans feel otherwise. Anyways, every day that Hoffman isn't signed his asking price just goes up. Give the man what he wants. Now. Please.
Unfortunately for the Senators, the lead did not last long as Wayne Simmonds potted a power play goal less than three minutes later. Clarke MacArthur had been sent off for hooking and less than thirty seconds later, the lethal Flyers power play struck. The goal can be summarized in three pictures. In this first frame, Philadelphia has just won the face-off but Ottawa is well-positioned:
Everything's cool so far. In the next frame, the Flyers have gone from one point man to the other but the Sens box is still in good shape.
Chris Phillips inexplicably goes after Claude Giroux on the sideboards, leaving Wayne Simmonds wide open in front of the net. To make this choice even stranger, Phillips doesn't even finish his check - he just stops in front of Giroux and snows him. Giroux of course finds Simmonds at the side of the net, and seconds later the game is tied at 1.
The remainder of regulation and the overtime featured chances for both sides, including a close call for Jean-Gabriel Pageau in close as well as multiple shots in the slot for the snake-bitten Clarke MacArthur. Four on four action in overtime produced predictably more entertaining hockey and Steve Mason was forced to make several more saves, including a great sliding stop on a Kyle Turris one-timer.
Notably absent from the ice in the third period were Mark Stone, Colin Greening and David Legwand. I'm not especially surprised to see Greening and Legwand benched, they've struggled for long stretches this year, but the Stone benching is a real head-scratcher. He's coming off a game in which he scored, he's been great all season and I didn't think he'd had a particularly bad performance through two periods. With those three effectively benched, Dave Cameron ran three trios that featured Alex Chiasson on the top line. It's a baffling move, especially given Chiasson's struggles of late, but it didn't appear to slow the Sens down.
As the game clock in overtime wound down and no winner had been decided, the Sens headed to the dreaded shootout. Mika Zibanejad went first and he beat Mason cleanly, but Jakub Voracek slid one by Anderson and no one would score again until Simmonds won it for the Flyers in the fifth round. On the whole, Ottawa probably deserved a better fate as they outshot the Flyers 42-34 overall ,and won the shot attempt battle 73-56 at 5v5, but they were by no means dominant. It was a game that was always one bounce away.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
Hoff scored a beauty of a goal, was all over the ice, again, and just generally created a lot of havoc for the Flyers with his speed. Sometimes when I'm watching him play, it's like I'm watching minor hockey and he's the one kid that really knows how to skate; no one can catch him. It's unreal.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
Andy didn't need to be spectacular too often on the night, but he was very good throughout. He had Claude Giroux's number, in particular.
Sens Honourable Mention: Clarke MacArthur
You gotta feel for the guy tonight, as he was robbed by Mason on more than one occasion. Nonetheless, Mac was all over the ice and was easily one of the team's best players
Sens Zero: Chris Phillips
There weren't too many Sens that had bad performance by my eyes, but Phillips was one of them. He wears the goat horns for that inexplicable play while shorthanded that set up the Flyers goal, as well as a couple of atrocious give-aways.
Sens Killer: Wayne Simmonds
The Giroux line gave the Senators fits but Simmonds scored the only goal and was also the hero in the shootout.
Sens Killer: Steve Mason
Got a bit lucky with a few posts to help him out, but Mason also made several spectacular saves. He was the primary reason the Sens didn't walk away with two points.