Tonight’s Sens game felt like a particularly important one.
It was the first of two games being played in Stockholm, Sweden against the Colorado Avalanche as part of the NHL’s Global Series.
It was also Ottawa’s first game in almost a week, and since the last one didn’t exactly go very well, a lot of fans were hoping for a decisive win.
And, oh yeah, it was also Matt Duchene’s first game as an Ottawa Senator, and he was playing against his former team.
The first period was extremely exciting, especially by Ottawa Senators standards. Both teams traded offensive chances and broke down defensively a few times, leading to a number of scary moments. Colorado ended up scoring first on the powerplay, after Alex Burrows got called for a high stick. Anderson looked a little all over the place during the penalty kill, but didn’t really stand a chance against Nail Yakupov’s shot.
It didn’t take long for none other than Fredrik Claesson, a native of Stockholm, to even the score, and show off the goal celebration that originated in this very building. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
It’s a good celebration, too. Not quite Stone-esque, but better than most of the celebrations we see in the NHL. The one small change I would make is to add a dab at the end of it. I don’t care if the meme is dead; hockey has never been cool, so why would it start now?
That seemed to give the Sens a boost, as they generated a few good chances, and eventually took their first lead of the game when Mark Stone tipped in a shot from Johnny Oduya. With Karlsson getting an assist on the Claesson goal, that meant that all three swedes on the Sens’ roster had now gotten a point in the game.
The rest of the first period continued to be exciting and fast paced, with both teams trading chances, but did not result in any more goals.
The second frame featured more back-and-forth between the Sens and Avs, with Ottawa having the upper hand most of the time. About halfway through the period, however, Colorado evened the score with a last-minute redirection past Craig Anderson.
Fortunately, Chris DiDomenico countered a few minutes later, tapping in a Dion Phaneuf shot that Varlamov struggled with.
The Sens found themselves on the man advantage shortly afterward, but unfortunately it soon went horribly wrong, as Sens powerplays generally do. Matt Nieto took advantage of a fumble by Erik Karlsson and ended up on a shorthanded breakaway. Chris Wideman slashed him, and the Colorado player was awarded a penalty shot.
Thankfully, Nieto did not manage to score, and Ottawa went into the third frame up 3-2.
The Sens continued to look good in the final period, with their newest acquisition Matt Duchene showing off his puck protection skills during one particularly good shift. Boucher’s team opted to sit back and protect the lead, a tactic which eventually backfired on them, unsurprisingly.
Much of the blame for the tying goal can be placed on the shoulders of Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur, who gave the opposing forwards ample time and space with which to work. The goal scorer, MacKinnon, was left wide open at the side of the Ottawa net for an easy tap in.
Despite a few good efforts, the Sens did not manage to take back the lead, although they did manage not to fall behind, forcing overtime for what feels like the hundredth time this season. At least in the regular season, making it to overtime gives you actual points and not just heart attacks.
Overtime was over surprisingly quickly, as Boucher opted to start the absolutely lethal trio of Karlsson, Duchene and Hoffman. Those three did not score, but they looked extremely dominant and once Stone and Brassard came over the boards, they made quick work of the Avalanche team.
Mark Stone was on fire tonight, as he usually is. He and Brassard teamed up for some great chances, and he ended the night with two goals, including the overtime winner. He also gave us this amazing #StoneFace which I believe needs to be shared with the world:
Freddy Claesson got a chance to play with Erik Karlsson tonight, and he looked amazing in the role. He also netted his first goal of the season in his hometown, in front of family and friends, which is just wonderful.
This isn’t exactly a “notable performance,” but I feel like I should provide an update on Matt Duchene: he looked good, and seems to be adapting well to #TheSystem, but he played with a lot of different linemates throughout the game and didn’t really get a chance to gel with anyone.
I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about Craig Anderson in this game, but I personally wasn’t particularly impressed with him. He looked out of position a few times, and had to make a lot of sprawling saves when I feel like he normally would have kept things in control.