The Sens entered tonight's contest looking to avenge a 5-1 loss to these same Anaheim Ducks earlier this month. As you may have heard, after that game Guy Boucher gave a rather terse media appearance in which he admonished his players for a lack of effort. Coincidentally (or not, depending on how you feel about these things) the Sens hadn't lost since then, a stretch that included one of their best performances of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
It's become something of an axiom in hockey writing that if there are no goals, then the gameplay must have been boring. In this case, you'll have to trust me that I'm not being lazy in telling you that the scoreless first period was boring. There were a mere 11 shot attempts apiece, just 11 total shots on net, and only one power play opportunity. Mark Borowiecki fought Jared Boll after Boro threw a mildly questionable hit and Jean-Gabriel Pageau missed a wide open net off a feed from Mark Stone. That was about it.
The second period got off to a more invigorating start, however. Just 1:02 in to the frame, Ryan Dzingel scored his 8th of the season after some great work from Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan on the forecheck freed up the puck.
It's been said by me here, and by many others elsewhere, that Dzingel's play has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season so far; it's also been critical to the Sens' success.
For long stretches of play, the second period looked like the first: there was a lot of dumping and chasing. The Ducks slowly gained the upper hand midway through the period and only a somewhat questionable goalie interference call kept Anaheim from tying it.
But Puck Don't Lie as they say (I think?) and less than a minute later Jakob Silfverberg tied the game on the power play, finishing off a beautiful behind-the-back pass from noted jerk Corey Perry. The second period concluded with the teams deadlocked at one apiece after the Sens failed to generate a single shot attempt in the last nine minutes of play.
The third period brought renewed energy from the Sens and some actual sustained pressure. Unfortunately, Bobby Ryan took a careless high-sticking double major and Ottawa was forced to fend off the formidable Anaheim man advantage for a full four minutes. Thanks to a deflected shot off the post and some admirable defensive play from Marc Methot, in particular, the Sens survived and the rest of the third period was played without much incident.
In overtime, a terrific end-to-end rush from Erik Karlsson led to a high quality scoring chance but it was Andrew Cogliano taking down Mike Hoffman with 1:37 remaining that proved to be the critical moment. Hoffman buried a one-timer with just under sixty seconds left in the extra frame and sent the crowd home happy.
It's hard to call this game an exciting affair, the Sens generated a measly 17 shots on net after all, but I'm sure that if you asked Guy Boucher he'd tell you he was pleased with the team's defensive effort. The Sens reached 20 wins before Christmas this year, and that's nothing to sneeze at.
Nkb's 3 Quick Thoughts:
-It's been covered several times already, but the disconnect between Cody Ceci's play and his usage is staggering at times. Ceci played nearly 28 minutes tonight and not only were the Sens shelled while he was on the ice but he was personally responsible for several bad giveaways. This is especially puzzling considering that Chris Wideman has had another solid season and that Boucher has at times been willing to deploy him with Phaneuf. This seems like an easy fix.
-If you missed Erik Karlsson's mad end-to-end dash in overtime, I suggest you go back and watch it because it was truly incredible. When Erik Karlsson has the chance to wind up behind the net and hit his full stride, I find myself slowly rising out of my seat expectantly. It's one of the most exciting plays in all of hockey.
-Ryan Dzingel is such a great skater that it's easy to overlook how skilled he is. His goal tonight was an absolute laser beam. Dzingel could have turned out to be a one-trick pony like a Darren Helm, but I think it's clear that his skill with the puck will keep him in the NHL for some time to come.
Sens Killer: Jakob Silfverberg
In addition to the goal, Silfverberg was the Ducks’ best player on this night (and probably the best player on either team, to be perfectly honest). His line with Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Kesler gave the Sens all they could handle.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
This wasn’t a game in which any one Senator particularly distinguished themselves, so we’ll give the nod to Hoffman here for his overtime winner.