The game started with a great pace for both teams. It was over four straight minutes of solid back and forth rush hockey before the first whistle. For all the tearing up and down the ice though, neither team was getting much to the net. Dangerous plays off the rush kept getting broken up by the respective D before shots could get off.
One of the few times early on that either team was able to set up anything resembling a cycle, Johnny Gaudreau fed a pass to the point where Dougie Hamilton slapped a blazing one-timer past Andrew Hammond to put the Flames on the board.
The pace continued, again with a whole lot of skating and not a whole lot of rubber making it to the goalies. Things got interesting when Matt Tkachuk got the puck just outside of the Ottawa zone, managed to get around Erik Karlsson and was almost free and clear on the break when... he held Karlsson’s stick.
I’ve seen plenty of offensive zone penalties, and I’ve seen plenty of penalties that kill your own team’s play in progress, but I’ve never seen a player take a penalty to ruin their own breakaway before.
If taking the most ill-advised minor I’ve ever seen wasn’t enough, Tkachuk wasn’t given much time to reflect on it. Only four seconds in to the power play, Karlsson wired home a shot from pretty much dead middle on the blue line to tie the game at 1. Sometimes the obvious PP strategy of “feed Karlsson” works.
Didn’t take too long for the Flames to head to the box again, this time on a tripping call. The Sens weren’t able to get a whole lot going - they largely held the puck, but couldn’t make much of it. As Karlsson had shown it doesn’t always take much on the power play though, and the first puck that found it’s way to Brian Elliott found it’s way past Brian Elliott to give the Sens the lead.
The second period started with a bit of a surprise - it wasn’t Hammond in the net, but to everyone’s confusion it was Chris Driedger. Always the reliever and never the starter. It turns out that Hammond had suffered an injury in the dying moments of the first.
The Sens were looking pretty good at first - they still had almost a minute and a half of penalty to kill, and were getting more chances than Calgary was. But, as we’ve learned, it doesn’t take much. Alex Chiasson fed the puck out into the low slot, and Sam Bennett buried it into a nearly open net. Driedger’s first NHL goal allowed wasn’t a great one. It did come just as the penalty expired, so the penalty kill technically did their job as far as the record keepers are concerned.
There was an interesting moment on a Senators power play - Derrick Brassard got tangled up with Elliott and both went down. Before getting completely untangled and upright, Brassard ducked and covered his head almost going into the foetal position just a moment before Karlsson rang a slap shot off the post just over top of him. Brassard wasn’t even looking that way, so it sure looks like Elliott warned him what was coming.
The penalty kill had another chance to test their game when Chris Wideman went to the box for tripping Kris Versteeg. They killed off the full two minutes, only allowing a single (blocked) shot attempt the entire time - then before Wideman could make it back into the play Dougie Hamilton snuck a wide angle shot past Driedger to give the Flames their second lead of the game.
The third period was similar to the first, with a lot of back and forth but without much really dangerous pressure. More of the time was spent in the Calgary zone, but Ottawa couldn’t create much from the zone time. The Flames took a 4-2 lead on a play where Gaudreau got Driedger moving back and forth from behind the net before getting the puck out to Sean Monahan who fired it past Chiasson’s screen. Shortly after, when Ceci tried to pinch the play at the Sens blue line - he got his man, but Mikael Backlund scooped up the puck to create a two on one. Phaneuf got a little bit of the pass to Michael Frolik, but not enough. 5-2 Flames.
The Sens would get a little going right towards the end, but that goal mostly took the wind out of their sails.
Honourable Mention: Penalty Kill
Despite two of the goals coming juuuuuust after the kill ended, the PK largely kept Calgary from getting anything going. And those two goals were ones that Driedger probably wants back.
Honourable Mention: Mark Borowiecki
Quietly did his job tonight. Played over 15 minutes, was barely noticeable, and wasn’t on for any of the goals against.
Zero: Chris Driedger
So much for that 1.00 career SV%, right? Driedger let in four goals on just 15 shots, and the first two were especially rough. He needs to be better if Hammond is going to miss any more time.
Killer: Dougie Hamilton
Opened the scoring, assisted on the tying goal, and scored the game winner.
Pascal LeClaire Memorial Award: Andrew Hammond
Seriously? This is going to be our goaltending luck this season?
5 shot attempts tonight, the most dangerous ones being blocked. Have to figure he’s going to put up a G sooner or later...
Game Flow (via Natural Stat Trick):
Shot Chart (via ESPN):