There's been a lot of handwringing among Ottawa Senators fans and analysts lately on the topic of the team's inability to find the back of the net. Tonight's effort won't do much to quell those fears, but thanks to Craig Anderson the Sens again walked away with two points. There will come a time when scoring more than two goals to win a game is required of this team, but tonight was not that night.
The Sens actually came out of the gates like a team possessed, hemming the Flyers in their end several times in the first few shifts. Philadelphia seemed flummoxed by Ottawa's extremely agressive pinching; on several occassions, Flyers defensemen attempting to break out up the strong side boards had their plays disrupted. Marc Methot and Mark Borowiecki, in particular, merit praise for their efforts in this regard. It was a shame then that the Flyers scored the first goal against the run of play after Derick Brassard committed a horrendous giveaway that led to a clean breakaway for Nick Cousins.
On the TSN broadcast, I thought Ray Ferraro made an astute observation: the goal had nothing to do with Ottawa's system or style of play, it was simply an execution mistake. The Sens had been very successful up until that point by frenetically pressing in the offensive zone, and giving up an early goal should not have been cause to take their foot off the gas.
The rest of the first period was mostly even as the Flyers recovered their footing, though I would give the edge to the Senators on the whole. They were good, and only two quality Steve Mason saves on semi-breakaways for both Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Ryan Dzingel kept the Flyers in the lead.
The second period featured some sloppy hockey from both sides. Mark Stone would equalize just over seven minutes into the frame off of something of a broken play. It's worth noting that the chance itself only came about because of some deep pressure from Marc Methot. The Sens may not be finding the back of the net much these days, but it's hard to criticize them for not having a system and sticking to it -- their defensemen are constantly looking for opportunities to push down low and support the play.
The sloppiness continued in the form of first Bobby Ryan, and then Erik Karlsson getting stripped of the puck at their own blue line. Karlsson was dispossessed by Travis Konecny, who was a menace all night for the Flyers, and only a solid Craig Anderson save bailed out the captain. That effort was for naught, however, as Michael Raffl scored almost immediately after the ensuing offensive zone face-off. Though the Sens had finally broken through Mason, this was their worst period of the night. The Flyers held a 31-16 shot attempt advantage in all situations in the second frae.
The third period did not start well for Ottawa, as they first needed to kill off a Too Many Men on the Ice penalty before then almost immediately needing to survive a Pageau "gloving the puck on the face-off" penalty. The Flyers have possibly the best power play in the NHL, and the Sens making it through those two chances was a key juncture in the game. Nonetheless there was still the question of equalizing, and Ottawa made their fans wait until it was looking pretty grim before Kyle Turris' solo effort with under three minutes remaining knotted the score up. It was a bit of a strange goal, and a bit of a soft one if we're being honest here. But this is the kind of run the Sens are on right now: the bounces are mostly going their way.
Overtime was a smorgasbord of chances for both sides, but will be mostly remembered for this completely failed 2 on 0 for Karlsson and Turris:
"You take it"— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) November 16, 2016
"No you take it"
"No you take it"
"No yo---.." pic.twitter.com/QZOVHI3JxP
Needless to say if no one was scoring on that chance, no one was scoring in overtime at all. Off to the shootout we headed, where the two goalies were once again the story. It took until the 10th attempt, Erik Karlsson's, before either was beaten and thus the Sens walked away with a 3-2 shootout victory.
There was no clearly better side here tonight -- Ottawa acquitted itself very well in the first and third, but struggled badly in the second and took a few too many penalties throughout the game. A tie game through regular time was probably fair to both sides, and the Sens did well to earn the extra point. Let's just hope they find a way to get to just maybe three goals next game? I'm not asking for much, just three.
NKB's 3 Quick thoughts:
-Brassard has had a rough go of it to start the season, and it's now been 14 games without a goal for the Sens' biggest off-season acquisition. He's too good a player to go too much longer without potting one, but combined with Bobby Ryan's difficulties the Sens have two of their top six forwards completely MIA right now. Something's gotta give.
-Our own Trevor Shackles had an article today on Borowiecki's improved play this season and his first few shifts in tonight's game were a great illustration of how his role in Guy Boucher's system is perfectly tailored to his skill-set. Boro is a good skater who lives for contact and by basically telling him to pinch on absolutely everything, he's being asked to do one of the things that he's actually good at over and over again. If Boro's going to keep afloat this year, he'll need to keep being successful on those pinches.
-Besides his goal, I thought tonight was one of Mark Stone's best in terms of puck retrieval. Several times he simply picked the pocket of the Flyers skater and created several chances for the Sens in the process. Stone needs to score for this team to win, but he also needs to keep creating those chances and tonight he did that.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
At some point it'll get old to keep writing in Craig Anderson as the Sens' hero, but he really was fantastic again tonight.
Sens Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
Stone had one bad giveaway that forced Mike Hoffman to take a hooking penalty in the third, but besides that he was phenomenal.
Sens Killer: Travis Konecny
The Ottawa 67's alum was a menace all over the ice on this night, and only some strong work from Anderson kept him off the scoreboard.