The most important part out of the way: the Ottawa Senators are in the playoffs! With the win, they also clinch the first wild card, meaning they will face either the Canadiens or the Lightning depending on the outcome of tonight's games. This calls for celebration!
The first thing I noticed at the start of the game was that the Senators were physical. Every check was being finished. Ottawa had a couple good chances thrown in front, but the Flyers also got some good ones. They had a good one developing when Michael Raffl decided to stick his stick in Mika Zibanejad's mouth, sending Ottawa to the powerplay.
On the powerplay, Ottawa would draw first blood. Clarke MacArthur threw the puck on net, and for some reason Steve Mason decided to play it instead of freezing it. Kyle Turris crashed the net, and forced Mason into a really weak clearing attempt that MacArthur intercepted. MacArthur passed the puck to Mark Stone in the slot, who had a wide-open net to pass the puck into. Turris' good heads-up play made the goal happen.
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That would more or less do it for the period. Andrew Hammond robbled up a few good chances, including some on a Flyers' powerplay, and Ottawa had trouble hitting the net. Late in the period, Stone tried to return the favour, setting up MacArthur for a wide-open slap shot in the slot, but MacArthur couldn't bury it. However, Stone was held by Nicklas Grossman behind the net, and so Ottawa would go to the powerplay again to end the first and then start the second.
Shots were 14-5 for Philadelphia after one. As some pointed out, Philly blocked 11 shots compared to Ottawa's 2, so the un-missed shot attempts were tied at 16. Still, it wasn't the desperation the Sens needed.
The second wouldn't start well. After killing the penalty, the Flyers got an offensive zone draw. Sean Couturier would win it to Brayden Schenn, who fended off Eric Gryba all the way around the net. Mark Borowiecki stood in front of the net and never picked up on Matt Read creeping in, who buried the cross-crease pass. It's the not the first time I've seen BoroCop be essentially useless in front of the net, covering nobody.
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The second was mostly Philly pressure, until an Ottawa break out about three-quarters of the way through the period. Curtis Lazar made a nifty pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who was stopped on a great save by Mason. Mason then fell into his net, and some Flyers thought Pageau had pushed him and took exception. After many punches to Pageau's face, B. Schenn would go off for roughing. Ottawa couldn't get anything going on that powerplay.
Shortly after the penalty's expiration, Marc Methot would make a great end-to-end rush, and try to hit Lazar with a pass in front. Unfortunately, Lazar didn't get much on it and Mason would make the save. Fortunately, Pageau was there to tuck the rebound into the far side of the net. 2-1 Ottawa.
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Not long after that, Raffl came very close to tying it, but Hammond knew the puck had gone between his pads. He looked behind him but couldn't see it, so he fell backwards, and stuck his arm behind his head. It was enough to keep the puck out of the net.
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The end of the period was delayed as it took five minutes to determine if there was 1.0 or 1.5 seconds left in the period. Either way, the face-off didn't matter, and Ottawa would go to the locker room with a 2-1 lead despite a 30-13 deficit in shots on goal. Shot attempts were much closer, being 43-37 for Philadelphia, but either way it was a game Ottawa needed to win, and being outshot this badly was inexcusable.
In the third period, Ottawa would lock it down. The shot count was 9-5 for Ottawa in the period, with most of those Philly shots coming late when the game outcome was pretty much decided. The only real play of note was Mark Stone's goal. He will finish right near the top of the league in takeaways, and none was bigger than his in this game. Jakub Voracek was a little too casual, and Stone stripped him of the puck and raced in alone on Mason. putting it right home. It was a fantastic goal at the perfect time for Ottawa.
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From there, the period mostly just played out. Stone had a chance for the hat-trick with the goalie pulled, but Jason Akeson had to be a spoil-sport and take a holding penalty instead. Philly would get a couple shorthanded chances, but for the most part, the penalty just ran down the clock until the Sens qualified for the playoffs. YES!!!!!!!
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
This guy has been hot for so long. It's hard to see when it's all going to fall apart. He has all the tools to be an offensive juggernaut, and we've seen it them in use for a few weeks now. His hands were all over this victory.
Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond
What more can you say about this guy? He stopped 34 of 35 shots, en route to another well-deserved victory. He finishes the year with a 0.943 save percentage and a 1.79 GAA in 24 games. Those are unreal numbers.
Honourable Mention: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
In a second period in which Ottawa hardly showed up, Pageau brought enough energy to draw a penalty and later score a goal.
Sens Killer: Blocked Shots
Ottawa ended up having 20 shots blocked, but in the first, they had 11 blocked and only five on goal. That's ridiculous. It ends up leaving their goalie to have to pick up a lot of the slack.
Shot Chart (via ESPN):
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