The Ottawa Senators were coming into today's game against New York on the heels of back to back losses that were not pretty. I don't think much was expected of Ottawa today, especially considering who their opponent was.
Although the first period ended in a scoreless tie, it was probably one of Ottawa's best opening periods of the year. The first five minutes were dominant from the Senators as they actually looked lethal with some great puck movement. By the time the Rangers got the first penalty of the game off of a Kevin Hayes hook, the shot attempts were already 21-6 for Ottawa.
It seemed inevitable that they were going to score on the power play, but Henrik Lundqvist was up for it. Mark Stone had a few chances, but he continued to be snake-bitten. After that point, New York began to get some momentum thanks to a Zack Smith penalty. The Rangers looked just as lethal as the Senators on the power play, as they launched seven attempts at Craig Anderson, including six more after the fact to end the period.
Despite a solid overall period, the Rangers headed into the intermission with 13 straight attempts at the net. I think losing the period would have been worth it just for this hit though:
In the second, there wasn't a whole lot going on. There was one Rangers power play, but it didn't lead to anything great. One of the two highlights of the period was probably Shane Prince slapping his stick so hard I'm surprised it didn't break. He looked to be on a breakaway, but the pass from Chris Neil was just a bit late, so Prince's chance was only average:
In the last minute of the period, Ottawa's luck would finally change. Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman went hard in for a great forecheck with 30 seconds left, and the puck got back to Jared Cowen at the blueline. He unleashed his all-star slapshot, and Bobby Ryan was able to bury home the rebound which was a foot away from the goal line. The best part of the goal wasn't Cowen's wicked hard shot, it was the fact that these kids will now be getting a puppy from their dad.
So after two periods, the Senators lead by a score of 1-0, with the even-strength attempts being 53-31 for Ottawa. Early in the final period, Ottawa picked up right where they left off---from the same line that scored the first one.
2:40 into the 3rd, Mika Zibanejad chipped it up the wall in the defensive zone all the way up to Mike Hoffman who came streaking in on a two on one with Bobby Ryan. He fired home his 22nd of the year on a shot that even Lundqvist had trouble tracking. It was a goal that embodies Hoffman's game as a whole, as he utilized his speed and showed off just how quick his release is.
After that, Ottawa played a solid defensive game without allowing too many Grade A chances. In fact, their possession numbers actually went slightly up after that point. Typically when a team is down by two or more goals, there tends to be some strong score effects. But that was not the case this afternoon. With 3:23 remaining, Mark Borowiecki took a slashing penalty (like all good leaders do), and it looked like New York was going to pour it on for the last few minutes.
However, they couldn't really set anything up, and right after they pulled Lundqvist for the extra attacker, they somehow turned the puck over at the blueline, which gave Jean-Gabriel Pageau an easy chance to score a short-handed goal from his own zone. Just like that, the threat was over, and Ottawa coasted in the last two minutes for an easy 3-0 win.
Overall, it was a good complete game effort for the Senators, something that has rarely been said this entire year. It was also their first shutout since November 15th against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
Whenever a goalie gets a shutout, you have to at least give him some recognition. He didn't face too many tough chances, and was lucky that Kevin Hayes can't shoot, but saving 35/35 shots in a game is still impressive. If this team is going anywhere, Anderson will have to stand on his head.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Anytime you force some kids dad to buy him a puppy, you are certainly deserving of being a hero. He added another goal today, and he's now on pace for his career high in points of 71. He also sits 16th in NHL scoring, so I think he's doing just fine right now.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
His goal that made it 2-0 today was just fantastic to watch, and every time I see something like that I just want to scream to the organization: "PAY THE MAN HIS MONEY!"
Honourable Mention: The rest of the team
Honestly, I didn't feel like anybody played particularly bad. Shane Prince stuck out in my mind as having a quality effort as he managed 4 shots despite somehow playing only 8:52. Mark Stone didn't get any points once again, although you can see that he is getting close. He had a few chances, and it's not like he's become a bad player all of a sudden. It's hard to pick on one or two players in a game like this, purely because they didn't give up any goals.
It wasn't a perfect game by any means, but winning the possession battle at 74-64 for all situations and 67-50 at 5 on 5 is encouraging to see. I guess I picked the right game to recap, because really there isn't much I can complain about today for their on-ice production.
Game Flow (via Natural Stat Trick)
ESPN Shot Chart: