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Senators eke out first home win against Flames

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They may not have deserved it, but the Ottawa Senators managed to defeat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout to win their first home game of the season.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Just like their last three games, the Ottawa Senators ended up with a result they didn't deserve against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. Unlike the last three games, though, this time that benefited them; after they outplayed but lost to Nashville, New Jersey, and Arizona, they were pretty heavily outplayed for large stretches by Calgary but walked away with two points thanks to a 5-4 shootout win.

The Sens came out of the gate slow, managing just one shot in the first 13 minutes and only four in the whole first period despite an early powerplay. In fact, on that early powerplay (which was drawn by an aggressive Bobby Ryan forecheck), the Flames managed the best scoring chance. But Ottawa managed to get out of the first period in a scoreless draw, thanks in large part to Craig Anderson.

Ottawa had a slightly better powerplay early in the second period, but managed just one shot on net. The Flames really brought the play to Ottawa after their PK, and took a 1-0 lead when Dougie Hamilton fired a wrister that beat Anderson on the top corner glove side. Anderson didn't look square to the shooter on it, but he gets some leeway since it was a 3-on-2 and Hamilton's shot was well-placed. The next ten minutes were all Calgary, but out of nowhere Zack Smith pulled off a near-end-to-end rush capped off by a sweet wrister to tie the game. An early intermission gave Ottawa a chance to catch their breath, and when play resumed Ottawa managed to take a 2-1 lead when Ryan buried one past Jonas Hiller. At the end of the second, the shots were 20-10 for Calgary but Ottawa had the 2-1 lead

Ryan's promotion to the top line with Kyle Turris and Mark Stone seemed to give the Sens some early energy in the third period, but Calgary was still pushing the pace and it was Joe Colborne who would score next to knot the game at two. Less than a minute later Kris Russell gave Calgary the lead and it looked like Ottawa was reeling--until captain-like Kyle Turris roofed a backhander to tie the game (with an assist going to actual-captain Erik Karlsson). Pageau scored 18 seconds later and it looked like maybe Ottawa had taken a decisive hold on the game, but no such luck: Mark Borowiecki accidentally knocked a loose puck into his own net and a back-and-forth third period ended in a 4-4 score.

Overtime solved nothing (although it did feature a gorgeous glove save by Anderson on Johnny Gaudreau), so Ottawa took part in their fourth shootout of the year. Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad beat Joni Ortio in the skills competition, and Ottawa managed--somehow--to get their first home win of the year.

Sens Hero: Kyle Turris
Just when things looked their bleakest, Turris stepped up and clawed Ottawa back into the game. Although he's not usually too flashy, Turris hardly ever makes mistakes, and that reliability makes him a great asset to the team. He had a goal, an assist, and a team-high 64.86% CF% (all CF% numbers in this post are All Situations figures from hockeystats.ca).

Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Ryan started with intentsity (intensittee? intencity?) when he earned Ottawa an early powerplay, and kept it up through the night--especially when he was promoted to the line with Turris and Stone. I think he's still got another gear to his game, but hopefully that goal he scored got the monkey off his back and we see them keep coming for the next little while.

Sens Zero: Mark Borowiecki
It's not fair to single Borowiecki out since his pairing with Jared Cowen was a zero as a unit--and Cowen demonstrated some exceptionally poor spatial awareness in this game--but Boro's poor decision-making on the penalty kill needs to be addressed. Although his game plan is always "Hit First, Puck Second," that isn't wise on the PK; when he tried that in the third, he successfully made contact with Bennett--but he also, incidentally, made contact with the loose puck, and knocked it into his own net. Between that and his missed hit on Bennett on Calgary's third goal, a major flaw in his game was revealed: He is far too willing to overcommit on pointless hits, and it can be costly (especially when he's paired with someone like Cowen).

Sens Zero: Patrick Wiercioch
And just to show I'm not prejudiced, let's talk for a moment about Wiercioch and his blue line-worst CF% of 30.77. Not good. Worse, in fact, than the members of the Borowiecki-Cowen pairing I just tore apart. Although Wiercioch's partner Cody Ceci had a good defensive play or two, Wiercioch had none to his credit; just a couple shot attempts and a lot of defensive zone trouble. Although he can advance the puck well when he's given time, Wiercioch always has trouble against hard forechecking teams, and the Flames were relentless on that front.

Sens Killer: Joe Colborne
Heck of a season debut for Colborne, who had a goal in regulation plus another in the shootout and a lot of heavy, heavy hits--he led both teams with seven hits, including a few memorable ones on the forecheck that gave Ottawa problems.

Honourable Mention: Alex Chiasson
Solid game for Chiasson tonight; he managed three shots on net, and set up Pageau's go-ahead goal mid-way through the third with some nice control behind the net.

Prediction Panel Update:
Huge congratulations to B_T for his exact score prediction, although he failed to predict the decisive goal scorer so... meh.

Game Flow (EV) from Natural Stat Trick:

gameflow-20151028

Game Highlights: