Tonight's game was eerily reminiscent of last year. After falling behind 3-0 to a significantly superior team and then losing their starting goalie, the Ottawa Senators clawed back against the St. Louis Blues in front of Andrew Hammond, tying the game in the dying second, and forcing a shootout before losing a nail-biter.
The Sens didn't get off to the start they would've wanted to, allowing two goals (and 19 shots!) in the first period. The opening goal was a comedy of errors. Zack Smith went to the bench, but nobody was ready for the change. Erik Karlsson tripped over the blue-line, setting up an odd-man situation. Karlsson's attempted clear hit the boards awkwardly and didn't leave the zone. Mike Hoffman, the eventual change for Smith, got caught deep. Karlsson and Marc Methot both got caught too high, leaving Dmitrij Jaskin (I admit, I had to look up the spelling of his name) alone in front to pot the rebound. The second goal came after Nick Paul took a needless offensive-zone cross-checking call. On the powerplay, a Kevin Shattenkirk point shot was tipped on net by David Backes. Craig Anderson kicked out a juicy rebound to Jaden Schwartz who scored to put the Blues up by two. Being outshot 19-10 in a period is not good at all, and the 2-0 scoreline reflected that.
The second period would start off better for the Sens after they killed a Chris Wideman penalty from late in the first. Mike Hoffman and Mika Zibanejad had great chances to bury rebounds but they were denied by Jake Allen and the post respectively. Z-bad's chance would draw the Sens' first powerplay; of course, St. Louis got the better chances on the powerplay, but it still was a nice idea in theory. Unfortunately, things would get worse for the Sens. First, Curtis Lazar blocked a shot with his foot that left him hobbling on the ice for the next minute until he could finally change, after which he headed straight down the tunnel. Then Zack Smith would take a dumb offensive-zone penalty, and Vladimir Tarasenko would snap one bar-down over a standing Craig Anderson from the faceoff dot. It was a beautiful shot. Ottawa would get one back when Ryan Dzingel shovelled home a loose puck in the crease, but then Anderson aggravated an injury he'd got after colliding with Backes in the first period. Andy stayed down to the point the refs blew the whistle, giving Andrew Hammond his first minutes in a couple weeks without any sort of warmup. The good news was that Lazar returned soon after. The period would end with the Sens down 3-1, but on the bright side they were only outshot 14-11 in the period.
I'll fully admit, I was ready to scrap everything I'd written and switch to full sarcasm mode. I'm glad I didn't, because the comeback was one for the ages. Hammond had to stand tall on two breakaways, one against Tarasenko pulling the Forsberg-but-should-be-called-the-Kent-Nilsson move, and the other against Alex Pietrangelo with Mark Stone as the first guy back on defence. They overcame Dion Phaneuf losing his cool and taking an offsetting penalty with Ryan Reaves. They overcame Stone getting stopped on a shorthanded breakaway, and then being robbed of the rebound by a quick whistle (for the second time in three games). They overcame Chris Neil getting stopped on a breakaway. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored from an impossible angle to put the game within one, and then Alex Pietrangelo kicked out Bobby Ryan' skates late in the game to give the Sens an extended 6-on-4 opportunity. Stone got hit in the arm by a Karlsson slapshot from the point and headed immediately down the tunnel, creating yet another whole for the Sens to overcome. And yet somehow Pageau scored with 0.1 seconds left on the clock:
game tying goal with .1 on the clock pic.twitter.com/YP0U7hyaSE— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 2, 2016
It would be reviewed, but the video clearly showed the puck across the line with the clock saying 0.1.
Just before OT started, Stone came back to the bench, and it's good he did. He had two great defensive plays to break up two-on-ones. With 40 seconds left, Hammond would hit Stone with a stretch pass to set him up 2-on-0 with Karlsson. The puck just wouldn't settle for Stone though, and he was forced into a weak shot that Allen still had to work hard to keep out. OT would solve nothing, and the shootout went an agonizing 22 shooters before someone finally beat a goalie. Too bad it was Patrik Berglund who wrecked what was otherwise a flawless night for Hammond. The Sens lost what ended up being a close one, 4-3 in the shootout.
Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond
Allowed no goals on 17 shots, and then stopped 10 shooters in the shootout (including a ridiculous desperation save on Kevin Shattenkirk), probably deserving better than a loss. This was the Hamburglar we got to know and love last season.
Honourable Mention: Craig Anderson
Not often both goalies get a shout-out, but Andy faced 31 shots (!!) before leaving with an injury. He made a huge stop on a Robby Fabbri breakaway just before Ryan Dzingel opened the scoring for the Sens. I'd like to think the Sens would've made the shootout whichever goalie was in net.
Sens Hero: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
When you score two goals in a game, with one coming with 0.1 seconds left to tie it, you get a hero nod.
Sens Killer*: Jake Allen
This guy allowed three shots on 43 shots, and stopped all 11 shooters he faced in the shootout. That's pretty good.
*except for that awful goal he allowed to Pageau from the goal-line
Sens Killer*: Vladimir Tarasenko
Scored a laser, and had what felt like eight more breakaways. The Sens just couldn't seem to find or handle him tonight.
*except for Andrew Hammond
Dishonourable Mention: Dion Phaneuf's temper
Phaneuf played a great game, getting an assist and dominating possession like almost no one else on the team. He can't be losing his cool and taking an offsetting penalty with Ryan Reaves late in a game in which the Sens need a goal. They need him in that situation, and he let his emotions come ahead of the team's needs.
Sens Killer: Depth
Late in the shootout, Ottawa was sending out Alex Chiasson and Cody Ceci while St. Louis still had guys like Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund. I think that's a little unfair.