It ended rather scrappy, but the Senators weren’t complaining. A 4-3 regulation win over the league-leading Chicago Blackhawks would be a cause for celebration. The win marked Ottawa’s third in a row, and gave them a four-point cushion over the Bruins for second spot in the Atlantic.
Bobby Ryan opened the scoring with his fourth goal in as many games. He was tenacious on the forecheck, first helping Ryan Dzingel keep the play alive, then forcing Niklas Hjalmarsson into a blind pass up the middle. Kyle Turris’ shot was blocked, but Ryan fired it again before Scott Darling could track it. Chicago would get it back though later in the period on the powerplay. Artemi Panarin was left wide open for a one-timer, and Mike Condon just couldn’t react in time. The period would end tied 1-1, but with Ottawa holding an impressive 15-9 advantage in shots on goal.
The Sens would open things up in the second. First, just as Jonathan Toews penalty expired, Chris Wideman put the puck in Derick Brassard’s wheelhouse for a one-timer that Darling had no chance on. Then just 10 seconds later, Zack Smith would make a pass across for Jean-Gabriel Pageau who kicked it off the post, but then Tom Pyatt shovelled the puck in off Darling’s pad as he lay helpless in the net. The Hawks would get one back on a sweet play by Vinnie Hinostroza, who dangled before setting up Tyler Motte for an easy tap in. Two minutes later though, the Sens’ powerplay went back to work, with Kyle Turris firing an Erik Karlsson feed off Dion Phaneuf and into the net. A 4-2 lead looked nice, but there was no way it was going to be enough against this powerhouse team.
As it turned out though, it was enough. Not even two minutes into the third, Richard Panik scored on a very long delayed penalty. Apparently Phaneuf kicking the puck to him didn’t count as control, because the refs didn’t blow it dead, and he made no mistake with Condon unable to cut off the angle. Panik would then have a glorious chance to tie it, but his shot hit the post, and in his frustration he sent the Sens to the powerplay. The refs would then decide to let nothing go, calling Cody Ceci and then Ryan Hartman for what I thought were pretty soft calls, especially in a one-goal game. On the latter play, Marcus Kruger would find himself in behind a flat-footed Phaneuf, forcing the defenceman into a hold. Kruger crashed into the net, while his shot hit Condon’s stick (which was somehow flying into the corner), then the crossbar, then Mark Stone’s skate, then Kruger standing on the goal line, and finally Condon grabbed it. Kruger got a penalty shot, but Condon got just enough of it to keep it out.
The Hawks would pull their goalie with two minutes left, and the Sens never got possession outside their own blue line, but the Hawks couldn’t score. More than once, Condon had to scramble to cover a loose puck with his glove. Toews got a glorious chance in the crease after a great feed by Panik, but Karlsson got his stick on Toews’ stick to prevent him from getting a real shot away until Condon could smother the puck. The Sens actually ended up outshooting the Hawks 30-26, but were outshot 11-4 in the third. Still, they hung on for the victory, and will be in a comfortable spot heading into the Christmas break whatever happens on Thursday.
Sens Hero: Derick Brassard
He dominated play when he was on the ice, scored a great goal, and was just generally dependable. He’s been pretty good over the last couple weeks (probably since Stone joined his line).
Honourable Mention: Mike Condon
That was a flurry of shots late in the third, and he just seemed to track the puck well. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a goalie make so many desperation dives to cover up loose pucks with their glove and succeed.
Honourable Mention: Bobby Ryan
Another goal, and three shots means maybe he’s healed, and maybe he has some confidence. This team desperately needs both from their most expensive player.