After going on a four-game winning streak, the Senators blew it against the Canucks on Thursday in a 5-3 loss. Coming into Calgary, the team knew there was little margin for error down the stretch, and back to back losses was going to be unacceptable. It didn't always look like they were going to do it, but Ottawa somehow ended up with two points on the road.
The beginning of the game was not pretty at all. Under five minutes in, Marc Methot took a hooking penalty, and things went downhill from there. Joni Ortio made a stretch pass all the way down the ice, where Sam Bennet took it down the wing and just past the goal line. He threw the puck out in front, where Joe Colborne was streaking in and had some space. He shot it along the ice, but Craig Anderson did his best "Ben Bishop five-hole goal" impression and it snuck in.
It was an ugly start, but it got even worse. 42 seconds later, Sean Monahan doubled the Flames lead. Johnny Gaudreau made a pass while falling down from the corner, and Monahan was able to distance himself from Cody Ceci before rifling it short-side top corner past Anderson. It was a wicked shot, but Anderson had a clean view of it, so it's not like he had no chance on it.
Ottawa had a chance to get within a goal shortly after on a power play, but they couldn't get much going. Luckily for them, Bobby Ryan would draw a high-sticking penalty later in the period and the Senators had another opportunity to get their first goal. Despite unleashing a shot that is amongst the league's best, Erik Karlsson did not get credit for the Senators first goal of the night, which was scored 42 seconds into the power play. Instead, Zack Smith kept his wizardry going as the shot tipped off his leg and past Ortio.
Although Karlsson didn't get the goal, he snapped his 3-game pointless streak, which seemed like an eternity for him. Heading into the second, Ottawa was within one goal, but they were outshot 12-4 in the period.
Early in the second, the Senators were picking it up. Ottawa had 13 attempts in the first half of the period, and they had a plethora of chances on their third power play of the night. However, they couldn't tie it up, and instead Johnny Gaudreau would increase the lead for the Flames just after the halfway mark. TJ Brodie made a slick pass up the ice to Gaudreau, who was able to speed past Erik Karlsson for a semi-break before making it 3-1.
Being the scrappy bunch they are though, the Senators did not give up after that goal. Four minutes later, Curtis Lazar was able to set up Nick Paul from the side of the net, and Paul got his second career goal on a low shot on the far side of the net.
GIF: Nick Paul finds the back of the net after a nice feed from Lazar. pic.twitter.com/crFNS9Zq4S— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2016
It was good to see a guy like Paul add to his confidence, as Ottawa can use all the depth guys they can get.
Ottawa was certainly playing better and getting more chances on Ortio, but Calgary once again would increase their lead to two goals just before the period ended to continue the back and forth game. Gaudreau continued his dominance in the game, as he picked up his second goal and third point with 23 seconds to go on a shot that Anderson had no chance on. Despite some better efforts, Ottawa was in a worse position after two periods than they were after one.
The third period was looking depressing early on. If you were monitoring Twitter, things were not pretty with fans bickering at each other. But meanwhile, a game was going on. If you had missed a few minutes of the game for a bathroom break, you may have missed three Senators goals.
In the span of 2:38, Mika Zibanejad scored three goals, which was the fastest hat-trick for a Senator in their history. The first one didn't even look like it went in at first glance, but in fact Zibanejad somehow hit the back of the crossbar past the goal line for a sensational finish. It went for a review, but it was clear that it went in. Then the next goal also had to be reviewed after Bobby Ryan made some contact with Ortio, but he was out of his crease so Zibanejad's second would stand.
The third goal had me laughing, just because of how improbable it was for one player to score three times so quickly. Just like that Ottawa was winning and about to win their fifth in six games. It really did seem like it happened in an instant, and for the rest of the game Ottawa had to go into defensive mode. They were able to shut it down for the next 11 minutes, as Calgary had 11 attempts, but none of them were of high quality. Not even Gaudreau was able to do much for the rest of the game.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau was able to get an empty-net goal, and the Senators pulled off the improbably win on the road.
Sens Hero: Mika Zibanejad
Not even close. He wasn't particularly noticeable earlier on in the game, but in those few shifts he had in the 3rd period he was fantastic. This is the one guy you can point to and say that he is the reason why Ottawa won.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
The guy is a machine. He was the best player on the ice in Vancouver, and he notched three assists again tonight. I can't believe we get to watch him play every game; we are so lucky.
Honourable Mention: Nick Paul
Great to see him get another goal, as he now has two goals and one assist in six games so far. He only played 13 minutes, so you can't ask too much of him.
Sens Killer: Johnny Gaudreau
With two goals and an assist, it was clear that Ottawa had a hard time containing him. And really, who doesn't? He's an electric player, and they caught the Flames on the wrong night. Luckily for Ottawa, Joni Ortio was in net.
ESPN Shot Chart:
Now let's wait and see if Ottawa can get Jonathan Drouin, right?