The Senators probably should’ve done better against the faltering Flames, but then again, they probably should’ve played better to get a better result. They earned a point they probably didn’t deserve in a 3-2 OT loss.
The Flames actually came into the game sounding like the Senators of yore. Their stars were struggling, they had lost four in a row, they had let in the first goal of the game nine games in a row, and they featured Brian Elliott, Alex Chiasson, and Dave Cameron.
The first period was pretty boring. Ottawa had the better run of play, partially thanks to three powerplays compared to Calgary’s zero, but they couldn’t score mostly due to the philosophy of Too Many Passes. I didn’t count how many good scoring opportunities were passed up for one more pass, but I’m guessing coach Guy Boucher would’ve thought it was too many. I’m sure he would have been calm about it at the intermission, as he’s rarely known to lose his temper.
Such a happy guy.
The second period started with Ottawa still on the powerplay, but as per usual, they couldn’t score. Elliott wasn’t facing a lot of shots, but he comfortably stopped pretty much everything that came his way. Calgary even got a powerplay of their own shortly after, but Ottawa killed it off with no tense moments.
It really was shaping up to be a horrifically boring game until newcomer Tommy Wingels blew a tire at the offensive blue line, setting up a two-on-two the other way. What happened next was a complete mystery to me. Micheal Ferland threw a shot on goal that Mike Condon stopped, but instead of covering it, he swept it aside. Even though the Sens outnumbered the Flames four-to-two, the puck ended up right on the stick of Ferland again who tucked it in easily.
The Flames would get the next goal of the game too, as some commotion in front led to Condon sprawled on the ice. The Sens had four guys down low, but for some reason none of them decided to hit Sean Monahan, his stick, or the puck. They all just stood around and watched as he put the puck between his legs and roofed it into a gaping cage. I’ve watched the replay many times, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why not a single Senator tried to play the puck.
The Sens would go to the powerplay right afterward with a chance to bring it within one entering the second intermission. Of course they wouldn’t score, though a lot of the passing was pretty. They’d make their first errant pass just as the penalty expired, which would allow them to spring Kris Versteeg fresh out of the box on a breakaway, but Karlsson skated the fastest I’ve seen him in a long time to take away the chance (sorry for the terrible quality, but it’s the only one I could find):
The Sens would then just muck around for the last 20 seconds or so of the period, planning to not make anymore mistakes in the second.
The second period showed the first instance of line juggling I can remember Boucher doing in a while, trying to find a spark somewhere. It continued into the third, meaning we got to see great combos such as Wingels and Dzingel out there together. Ottawa actually got on the board to start the third period, which was a nice change of pace. It was looking like Fredrik Claesson had his first NHL goal, but then it turned out Tommy Wingels had tipped it home, earning his first goal as a Senator. The cheer from the crowd was nice after it was announced he had his first goal in his first game after the trade.
Ottawa dug for the tying goal, but they couldn’t find it for the longest time. With just six minutes to play, Kyle Turris took a hooking penalty at the Flames’ net, making the comeback look even less likely. On the PK, Zack Smith’s stick got chopped in a half on a near-breakaway, but for some reason that wasn’t a penalty. Ottawa would get the better scoring chances over that timeframe, meaning they easily killed off the penalty. And then with a minute left, Chris Wideman unleashed a bullet from the point through a Mark Stone screen and past Brian Elliott. The Flames would then take the chance to much around to end the period, ensuring overtime happened.
Ottawa would get most of the puck in OT, but like most of the game, they wouldn’t do anything with the possession. It seemed like every single shift, a Senator would cycle the puck in, pass it to somebody, and then they’d skate out of the zone and the other Sens would change. This continued for three-and-a-half minutes. Finally, Johnny Gaudreau had enough, and he dove to knock the puck away from Erik Karlsson who was skating out his own zone. The puck went to Mikael Backlund, who then got to skate in on a 2-on-0 with Gaudreau. Condon went down early, and four quick passes gave Gaudreau an easy tap-in for the game-winning goal.
Honourable Mention: Fredrik Claesson
Absolutely crushed the minutes he played, and almost snagged his first NHL goal. (Too bad we didn’t get to see the celebration he has planned, yet.) There’s no way Boucher can take him out of the lineup now, is there?
Dishonourable Mention: Mike Condon
He seemed very lost to me tonight, not tracking the puck well, handling rebounds awkwardly, and generally not helping the team. The poor guy is probably tired and could use the All-Star Break. But tonight, I don’t think he gave his team any help.
Sens Zero: Dion Phaneuf
I don’t like giving out zeroes, but tonight Phaneuf didn’t impress me at all. He got run over. He looked old and slow. Every shot I saw him take got blocked. The fact that Ceci and Wideman were given the chance to tie the game late (and succeeded) says to me that Boucher saw the same thing. I can’t solely blame him for the loss, but he was the most disappointing performer to me.