Well, that was almost really uplifting and inspiring.
Coming off one of their ugliest losing streaks in recent memory, the Sens very nearly restored their fans’ faith in them with a three game winning streak. For a brief, fleeting moment, there was hope in Sens fandom.
Maybe the Ottawa Senators did remember how to hockey.
Maybe they were capable of winning a game that wasn’t special in some way.
Maybe Erik Karlsson could get a hat trick, after all.
Nobody thought they’d sell out the arena, though. That’s a dream for another day.
But maybe we could at least have some nice things.
Except we can’t. Life is meaningless. Existence is suffering. Sports fandom only ever leads to heartbreak.
But hey, at least this game was entertaining. And at least we got to see a few flashes of competence. Not brilliance, exactly. We’re not there yet. But competence, for sure.
Honestly, at this point they’ve given me so little to hold on to that I’ll take what I can get.
The first period was extremely refreshing for anyone who has been watching the Sens this month. The team looked like the one that showed up at TD place on Saturday, or like the one we saw at the beginning of the season. The players had more jump than we’ve seen in awhile, the lines were clicking, and Erik Karlsson was being Erik Karlsson.
The Captain opened the scoring early on in the game with a beautiful shot from the point that threaded its way through traffic in the way that only an Erik Karlsson shot can. The goal was originally given to Ryan Dzingel, who appeared to have tipped it in at the last second, before being returned to its rightful owner, the only man who is allowed to score goals for this team.
The rest of the period was fast paced and exciting, and featured a few good scoring chances for each team. Minnesota evened the score off a weird deflection, and Ottawa responded with a lot of pressure that unfortunately did not result in another lead.
If the first period was a breath of fresh air, the second had fans believing that the team might actually manage to crawl into playoff contention this year. The Sens were flying. They got an early powerplay, which would normally kill all momentum and crush all of our hopes and dreams, but instead of standing around and playing hot potato, the Ottawa Senators did the impossible.
They. Scored. A powerplay goal.
Incredible, right? I had forgotten that was even allowed.
And to make things even better? The goal was scored by none other than Erik Karlsson, meaning that our glorious captain now had two goals in one game, with plenty of time left to complete the hat trick. And, as anyone who is active on Sens Twitter will already know, Erik Karlsson scoring a hat trick would pretty much be the best thing to ever happen to this fanbase. After all we’ve been through in these last few games, we deserved this one thing.
Was the hat trick more important to me than the win? Maybe.
For the next few minutes, it looked like we wouldn’t even have to choose between those two things. Karlsson clearly wanted another goal. The rest of the team was playing excellent hockey. Their powerplay looked good on its second chance of the night. Get this: for a brief moment, the Sens were even creating chances without Karlsson on the ice.
Is that allowed?
Only a few minutes after the go-ahead goal, Jean-Gabriel Pageau doubled Ottawa’s lead off a beautiful feed from Tom Pyatt. They had this in the bag.
Except they didn’t.
As it turns out, hockey games are 60 minutes long. Who knew? And, as the Senators learned tonight, sitting on a two goal lead is not always the best way to win a hockey game.
The Wild came roaring back almost immediately. Oduya got burned on a one-on-one, and Anderson was forced to make a few good saves as his defense absolutely collapsed in front of him. Chris Stewart of all people eventually scored for Minnesota after the Wild got a lot of excellent chances and a lot of time in the Ottawa zone. I’ll admit they kind of deserved that one.
Ottawa did not completely give up yet, and continued to put pressure on the Minnesota players. Thompson and Hoffman were both stopped on breakaways, and Pageau came extremely close to scoring his second of the night when the Minnesota goalie bobbled the puck at an inopportune moment.
Almost immediately after Pageau’s almost-goal, the Wild crushed all of the Sens’ hopes and dreams by scoring the tying goal with less than a minute left in the frame. Again, Minnesota absolutely deserved that goal: it came at the end of an extended period of total domination, in which they made the Sens look extremely silly and incompetent.
The spark of life that the Senators had shown in the first 40 minutes of the game was completely gone by the time the third period rolled around. The Wild took the lead early on, and doubled it only a few minutes later. Boucher challenged the latter goal for goaltender interference, but it was unfortunately not overturned. It was one of those situations in which the call really could have gone either way, and fans were left wishing the NHL was a little more consistent with the way they called goalie interference.
With about 15 minutes left to play, Ottawa had plenty of time to take the lead back, but it was clear that their hearts just weren’t in it. They managed to get a few decent scoring chances, but nothing particularly dangerous, and spent most of their time running around in their own zone.
Minnesota went up 6-3 with only a few minutes left in the game, and for some reason Ottawa chose that moment to wake up. A late powerplay spurred a stretch of good play that everyone knew was more about Karlsson’s hat trick than the Sens winning the game. The team that should have shown up when it was 5-3 finally decided to make an appearance, and Derick Brassard even scored on the powerplay to make it 6-4. Ryan nearly scored right after that, and Karlsson got in one final shot before the buzzer, but alas, our dreams were crushed, again, in the most Sens way possible.
Sometimes I really hate this team.
- Erik Karlsson looked like Erik Karlsson, in case you didn’t get that from the rest of the recap.
- Ryan Dzingel looked pretty good out there.
- Bobby Ryan actually looked decent too.
- Pageau had some good chances.
- Chabot got more ice time than usual, and looked good when he was on the ice.
- Anderson didn’t look great toward the end there.
- Ceci had four penalty minutes and was kind of responsible for a too many men call. He also had some pretty ugly moments in the defensive zone.
- Dion Phaneuf cannot skate.