The Senators rolled into San Jose, hoping to win two in a row for the first time in more than a month. The Sens suffered their first blow before the game even started, with Marc Methot out due to a lower-body injury that he hoped was short-term. Chris Wideman drew in to the defence instead.
Full disclaimer: I had to miss the first half of the game, so I skimmed through the first period and a half on GameCentre. It means my notes on the start of the game are pretty sparse. The important thing to note is that Ottawa definitely looked outmanned by the Sharks. At the end of the first, shots were 11-5 for the Sharks, and unblocked shot attempts were 17-8. However, the Sens were the ones on the board, thanks to a play that could be considered impressive or lucky depending on the view. Cody Ceci flipped the puck out of the zone under pressure in the direction of Max McCormick. Alex Stalock went out to play the puck but McCormick beat him to it and snapped the puck five-hole. In my opinion, it was a very poised play by a guy with one previous NHL goal. From then on, the period went all the Sharks' way as they poured on the offence trying to tie it up before the first intermission.
The second period was marginally closer, with shots only 9-8 for the Sharks, but Ottawa benefited from the game's only powerplay to that point, a tripping call on Joel Ward. Some slick passing on the powerplay opened up a lane for a clean Bobby Ryan shot. Mark Stone put up a great screen, and Stalock's pad could only deflect Ryan's shot into the net. Stalock may want that back, but the Sens' quick passing made the goal happen. Unfortunately for the Sens, the Sharks would get that one back off the ensuing faceoff. Jean-Gabriel Pageau fell, Joe Thornton raced in and threw it to a wide-open Tomas Hertl in front who tipped it into the net. Just like that, the Sharks were back within one.
Things went from bad to worse after that, as Mike Hoffman on a break got tripped up by Justin Braun, fell over Stalock, and went neck-first into the net. He would leave the game and not return. It didn't bode well for Ottawa to lose their best left-winger while trying to protect a one-goal lead for half a game.
Ottawa did fair better in the second period, but mostly seemed to play a defensive style with the occasional counter-attack.
The third period started with the Sharks seemingly throwing everything on net from any angle. It even worked for the Sharks as early in the period Logan Couture outmuscled Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad before snapping one in on Andy to tie the game. Five minutes later, some spectacular stickwork by Joonas Donskoi opened up a lane to pass to Matt Nieto in tight, who deked around Anderson and potted the puck before losing his balance. It was a very pretty goal, and suddenly the Sharks had the lead.
Ottawa started getting some help to get back in the game thanks to a number of icings by San Jose, but their passes weren't clicking and their pressure wasn't lasting long. Erik Karlsson got a little overzealous in the offensive zone and took what a soccer announcer would call a "cynical foul", holding back Hertl in the offensive zone. The powerplay would give San Jose a great chance to seal the game, but Ottawa's penalty killers stood tall. In the dying seconds, Zack Smith poked a puck wide on Brent Burns and raced in on a breakaway. Burns dove and missed the puck, tripping up Smith and giving him his first career penalty shot. Z. Smith would make no mistake, racing in, stopping quickly, and snapping the puck up high. The referees went to review to determine if the puck had stopped, something I had no idea was reviewable, but in the end they decided that the puck had maintained forward momentum.
In a game with six goals, I don't bother to embed them because it's far too much video. But I wanted to include Smith's still because it's such a ridiculous move to pull on your first career penalty shot. He shows so much poise. I wonder if he was going to be the third shooter in the (spoiler alert!) shootout after showing that much confidence.
The game would go to overtime. OT started off with Hertl ringing one off the post. Some poor planning by the Sens led to Karlsson playing the first two minutes of OT and looking dead tired by the end of his shift. Some more poor planning would lead to a tired Bobby Ryan matched up against Burns in the Sens' zone. Trying to contain Burns, Ryan could only get his stick between his legs and trip him up, sending the Sharks to a 4-on-3 PP with the game on the line. Try as they might, they just couldn't solve Anderson (or the crossbar, in Joe Pavelski's case). With OT solving nothing, the teams went to a shootout. Zibanejad scored for Ottawa, while all three Sharks shooters were stopped by Anderson. Couture's shot actually trickled through, but stopped short of the goal-line. Andy stayed away from the puck, making sure not to accidentally knock it in.
If the Sens do make the playoffs, this game could be seen as crucial. It was looking like Ottawa would get zero points, and instead went home with two. Coming out of California with four points means Ottawa's season isn't sunk, and I'm ready to start cheering for this team to crush it down the stretch yet again.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
I feel weird picking the goalie, because they're rarely neutral. As a goalie, you're either great or a goat. Tonight I can't hep but pick him though. He had big save after big save to keep Ottawa in the game. He came up huge on the PK in overtime and again in the shootout. Without Andy, Ottawa loses in regulation most likely.
Sens Hero: Zack Smith
With the game on his stick, he didn't panic. What a gem.
Honourable Shift: Cody Ceci and Mark Borowiecki
How about killing the full 1:52 of the penalty in overtime? It's not good if Dave Cameron doesn't trust his other four defencemen to kill penalties, but it's good they were able to hold on for basically the full 4-on-3 PK.
Dishonourable Mention: Most of the team
Sure, Ottawa was out Marc Methot. Then the bench was shortened by losing Hoffman. But that's still no excuse for everyone being demolished in terms of shot attempts. Ottawa deserved to lose, but opportune scoring and great goaltending kept them in it. It's hard to pick a bad player when nearly everyone looked flat. Smith gets pass though. What a gem. And McCormick, because his ice time evaporated when Hoffman got hurt which seems counter-intuitive.
ESPN Shot Chart: