On Throwback Thursday, the Ottawa Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1, in a game that featured stellar performances from many players. Pittsburgh entered the game tired off a 5-2 loss the previous night to the Washington Capitals, whereas the Sens were well rested, fresh off a three-day break.
The game started off at a very high tempo, with both teams exchanging great chances in the first few minutes. Chris Kelly had a chance wide open in the slot, although it was turned away by still-rookie goalie Matt Murray.
The first goal of the game came 5:29 into the first period, off a Bobby Ryan slapshot from the top of the left circle on a power play. This put a close to Ryan’s five game pointless drought, and got him his first point since his mysterious healthy scratch last week.
Just a couple minutes after the Ryan goal, Steve Oleksy took a hooking penalty against Kyle Turris, putting the Sens on the power play once again. Turris won the draw, and the puck went right to Karlsson on the point who fired it towards the slot. The shot-pass found Mike Hoffman, who cleanly deflected it into the top corner past Matt Murray. The goal came a mere 10 seconds into the Pittsburgh penalty, giving the Sens an early 2-0 lead with less that half a period gone by.
The rest of the first was relatively uneventful, with the Sens being unable to convert on their third power play of the period, and Ryan Dzingel getting a close chance in the dying seconds. Earlier in the frame, the Sens took their league leading 10th bench penalty for too many men. This has clearly been a problem for the team this season, and has cost us 20 penalty minutes that could have been easily avoided.
One player who had a really good first period was Bobby Ryan. Besides his power play goal, he seemed very re-energized. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him skate as fast as he did in that period, and he was doing a great job creating chances on the power play. This was definitely one of the Sens’ best periods in a long time, at least for the first half. Ottawa led in shots heading into the second, 15-8.
Period two saw a momentum shift for the Penguins. They were getting pucks toward Mike Condon, and were creating havoc in the Sens’ defensive zone. Condon stayed solid, denying Phil Kessel on a breakaway as well as robbing Nick Bonino and Chris Kunitz by sticking out the right pad. It was one of a handful of highlight-reel saves for Condon on the night.
Approaching the 13 minute mark of the period, the Sens jumped to a 3-0 lead off a tip by Tom Pyatt. Similar to the Hoffman goal, Karlsson took a shot from the point directly off a faceoff win from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and it hits Pyatt’s stick right in front of Matt Murray. It trickled in, giving Pyatt his fourth goal in his last nine games, and his second straight. Somehow, he keeps finding ways to put the puck in the back of the net. He finished the night with a Corsi percentage of 56%.
The period was spoiled at very end, as with 4.6 seconds remaining, Conor Sheary got his 11th goal of the year off a tip that just beat Condon blocker side. It was a bit of a weaker period for Ottawa, although they come out of it up 3-1.
The final frame, like the second, was primarily a battle of the goaltenders. The Penguins took three more penalties, including a game misconduct to head coach Mike Sullivan after he was arguing with the referee over a goaltender interference call. This gave the Sens ample opportunity to get shots off, which they did for the most part. Pittsburgh also did what Pittsburgh does, and did a great job at sustaining pressure. Condon was fantastic, keeping the high-scoring Penguins to only a single goal.
Stone reassured the Sens’ lead after shovelling in a backhander off a slick feed from Derick Brassard. This is the playmaker we hoped for when we traded for him in the offseason, and he really shined tonight. He finished the night with two assists.
The Sens won their second straight after losing their last four in a row. On the other end, this is Pittsburgh’s first time losing two straight in regulation since December of 2015. The final shot count was 33-30 in favour of Ottawa, while the shot attempts were near even at 57-56 for the Sens.
Sens Hero: Mike Condon
This was an easy pick, as he made many stellar saves that could’ve resulted in a least three more goals for Pittsburgh. Don’t look now, but his .922 save percentage is getting really close to Craig Anderson’s .924.
Honourable Mention: The Sens’ power play
Sure, when the opposing team takes five minor penalties you’re bound to get a bounce somewhere. However, the Senators’ power play looked legitimately lethal tonight, especially in the first period. It’s getting closer and closer to the accelerated power play that Guy Boucher has been preaching.
Honourable Mention: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau seemed to rediscover his shorthanded offensive flair tonight, creating a couple great chances in the Penguins’ end. He finished with four shots on goal, and a 5v5 Corsi percentage of 60.87%.
Honourable mention: Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson
Honestly, I could probably give everybody an honourable mention for tonight’s performance. The Hoff had one goal on four shots, and the captain had two assists to break his four-game point drought.