Today’s game was all about Erik Karlsson.
The captain made his return tonight after missing the first five recovering from ankle surgery. With the Ottawa Senators able to achieve their record of 3-0-2 without their best player, optimism resounded heading into a matchup against a depleted Vancouver Canucks (1-2-1). Even better, the Canucks were starting their backup goalie, Anders Nilsson, while Craig Anderson got the call.
Even with all the odds stacked in the Sens’ favour, sometimes the hockey gods have different plans. The Canucks took home the victory 3-0. Almost as important, however, is that Erik Karlsson was still amazing.
Ottawa led the first period in shots 17-4. They were that dominant. There were times when 5v5 would look like a power play, and Vancouver became helpless. The first 6:39 in the game was played without a whistle, and puck was controlled in the Canucks’ end for the majority of that start.
It was the Canucks that scored first, however. The Sens took a penalty for too many men, and Vancouver capitalized off a flurry in front. Rookie Brock Boeser, who was playing in his third game of the season, had the last stick on the goal. He now has four points on the season, leading the Canucks despite being healthy scratched for a game.
Guy Boucher challenged the goal for goaltender interference, although to no one’s surprise the call stood. Ottawa’s perfect penalty kill was put to a halt, as prior they were the only team left without a goal conceded.
The second period saw less dominance from the Sens - not good news when they’re already trailing by a goal. Mark Borowiecki took a run at Alex Burmistrov, who dodged what would’ve been a crushing hit. Oddly enough, it was Mark Borowiecki who got injured in the sequence, as he dropped the mitts with Derek Dorsett afterwards. Boro left the game during second intermission with an upper-body injury, and didn’t return.
Vancouver found the back of the net for their second time of the game, courtesy of a tip by Brandon Sutter. The referee called it a no-goal due to Sutter’s stick being too high, and upon further review, the call on the ice stood. It wouldn’t matter because Vancouver would score a near-exact goal a minute later, this time tipped cleanly by Burmistrov.
Vancouver took their momentum from the second period and ran with it to the end, piling on shot attempts despite being the team trying to protect the lead. Ottawa looked tired, a complete 180 of where they were to start.
The comeback nearly started late in the game, with Erik Karlsson jumping up in the rush only to find the post. The puck bounced the other way right to Thomas Vanek on a breakaway, who also hit the post, although his deflected into the net. That was all for either team as Ottawa had essentially given up with five minutes remaining. After winning 3-2 in a shootout over the Canucks exactly a week ago, Ottawa couldn’t repeat conceding the rematch 3-0.
Erik Karlsson: Playing for his first time since game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, it was a mystery as to how much Guy Boucher would handle Karlsson’s ice time. He showed no hesitation in giving him big minutes, playing him for a team-leading 22:25 (including 4:00 on the power play).
Not only did he play a lot, but it appears that he hasn’t lost a step. He was joining rushes and didn’t hesitate to pinch, including a nice play to split the Vancouver defence. The captain is back!
Mark Borowiecki: Prior to his injury, Boro looked sound on the ice, doing a great job at defending the line and keeping his positioning. It’s a trend we’re starting to see from Borowiecki that’s different from his previous seasons, so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on where this leads.
Mike Hoffman: His six shots on goal led both teams, and if he had a bit more puck luck this game would’ve been a whole different story. Definitely Ottawa’s biggest offensive catalyst after Karlsson.
Anders Nilsson: With Jacob Markstrom sitting at a .902 SV%, Nilsson couldn’t have imagined a better debut, stopping all 32 of Ottawa’s shots for the shutout.
Ottawa’s five-game home stand continues on Thursday, with the New Jersey Devils (5-1-0) coming to town.