Coming into tonight's game, Ottawa had an opportunity to sort of get themselves into the playoff conversation against a team that they might have to pass if they want to make it.
For fans still holding out hope, it was an important night.
The first period was largely uneventful, with the score being 0-0 after one. The only penalty of the period came from a vicious slash by Gustav Nyquist on Dion Phaneuf in front of the Ottawa net, but Ottawa was unable to get any grade A chances. It seemed like the Senators had some jump to their game in the opening frame, although they only narrowly out-attempted the Red Wings 13-12.
After Don Cherry gave more undeserved love to Drew Doughty in the intermission, the second period was much of the same in the early going. Nick Paul was the one this time to get sent off for a slashing penalty, but Detroit did not have an answer on their power play with one shot and three attempts. Even when Ottawa was able to get some momentum in the offensive zone, Petr Mrazek was up to the task with whatever they threw at him.
Then with nine and a half minutes left in the period, Craig Anderson played the puck to Erik Karlsson in the corner. Karlsson had to scramble to get the puck, and Gustav Nyquist was right behind him. Normally he'd be able to get out of the corner easily, but Tomas Tatar came at him from the other side, and he had nowhere to go with no Senators in sight besides Marc Methot covering the front of the net. In a panic, he threw it out in front of the net, and Andreas Athanasiou was wide open and scored easily to take the lead.
Exactly one minute later though, Zack "PDO" Smith was able to tie things back up. Jean-Gabriel Pageau made an amazing pass from the right side in the offensive zone to find a streaking Smith at the bottom of the slot, and he got enough of the puck to perfectly deflect it past the brick wall of Mrazek. It was another fantastic play by Pageau who looks like he is getting much better as the year progresses.
As the period was nearing its end, the Red Wings took the lead right back off of a terribly unlucky play:
Richards goal pic.twitter.com/fs8FLSuIf6— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 21, 2016
At least by that point you could say that Karlsson had a goal and an assist---but it was for the wrong team.
After two periods, it was 2-1 Detroit, with the even strength attempts at 22-19 for the Wings. Not to be overly dramatic, but the third period was basically Ottawa's last chance, as they can only afford to lose a handful of games down the stretch if they somehow want to make the playoffs.
Throughout most of the third, it looked like the Senators were done. They had some chances, but Mrazek is such a good goalie that it was going to be hard to tie it up. Then with 3:51 left in the game, former villain-turned-hero Dion Phaneuf got the puck at the top of the zone after Kyle Quincey failed to clear the puck and he rifled a shot along the ice past a screened Mrazek. It was one of those goals that is reminiscent of the playoff push last year, as the building went crazy. It's amazing how quickly people have learned to love Phaneuf.
That goal sent the game to overtime, where there was some amazing entertainment. Both teams traded chances, like you normally would in a 3 on 3 setting, and the best of them came off of a Bobby Ryan breakaway.
Cody Ceci was right there as well after Ryan just barely missed, but they weren't able to jam it home.
Mrazek stops Bobby Ryan in OT pic.twitter.com/llGcVbe4I3— Stephanie (@myregularface) February 21, 2016
The Red Wings had a few more chances that looked like it was inevitably going to go in, and Phaneuf had an opportunity to make himself an even bigger hero with a shot from dead centre in the slot. Alas, nobody scored and it went to another shootout.
The team's must have decided that the game had gone on long enough, as Kyle Turris was the only shooter out of the six to score, as Craig Anderson stopped Pavel Datsyuk to give the Senators the 3-2 win over their divisional rivals. For a team that still thinks it can make the playoffs, it was obviously a big two points. But at the same time, they also gave Detroit a point, which they can't afford to do every game.
Whether you want the Senators to get a good draft pick or not, it was at least nice to see them have some intensity, and you can see how badly they want to go on another run. I mean, Mark Stone is just a sight to behold whenever the team wins.
Sens Hero: Dion Phaneuf
It has to be. Without his late game-tying goal, this was going to be a win for the Red Wings. He wasn't particularly strong possession-wise with Cody Ceci again (12-19 shot attempts), but he's looking much better compared to other Senators defensemen. I've generally liked what I've seen from him so far, and it's nice to see him getting lots of love.
Honourable Mention: Craig Anderson
He kept the Senators in the game, and the two goals weren't really his fault. For the first goal, Athanasiou was left all alone, and Anderson was helpless. The second goal tipped off Karlsson's stick, and there was no way he was going to react quickly enough to save it. He stopped 29 of 31 shots, and all three shootout attempts, so he certainly deserves a mention.
Sens Zero: Erik Karlsson
Listen. It's not like he had a terrible game overall or anything, as he was still a positive player for shot attempts. But the first goal was largely his fault, whether he had help from his teammates or not. You can't say that that turnover was a smart play, and even he recognizes that. The second goal was totally unavoidable and unlucky, but who else can you blame for it? It went off his stick and he's the reason it went in. You have to blame somebody for those two goals.
ESPN Shot Chart: