With the Sens returning home from a three game road trip, the mood encapsulating the fan base has been pretty bleak. A 4-3 shootout loss to the Lightning and a 1-0 loss to the Panthers showed little effort coming from the players, and a 5-1 loss to the Bruins shut down almost all optimism of a playoff appearance.
The answer? Apparently play some of the best hockey of the season, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 5-4.
The first period was even between the two clubs, with Columbus outshooting Ottawa 10-9 by the end of the frame. Johnny Oduya took two minor penalties, during which Ottawa had some of their best offensive chances. Mark Stone nearly got one past Sergei Bobrovsky on a shorthanded rush, and Nate Thompson half-whiffed the puck on a breakaway. Neither team found the back of the net, tied 0-0 after one.
It wasn’t until the second period when the offence started to roll on both sides, or rather, the goalies’ holes began to show. A bounce off the backboards in the defensive end gave way to Sonny Milano to open the scoring, as Nate Thompson couldn’t provide adequate coverage in front of the net. Mike Condon took his time to get to the other side as well, which all resulted in a 1-0 deficit.
It didn’t take long to get one back, as Guy Boucher’s decision to answer with the top line paid off. A broken play off a Columbus exit got the puck to Mark Stone, who fed the puck to Karlsson, who dished it to Brassard. A nice backhand move against a discombobulated Bobrovsky made for a silky goal, tying the game at one apiece.
Two minutes later, the Blue Jackets took a stranglehold by scoring two more only thirteen seconds apart. Cody Ceci lost coverage of Josh Anderson, who sniped it past Condon to give Columbus the lead right back. Off the ensuing faceoff, Artemi Panarin sent a pass to Milano, who found a hole on Condon’s left side to extend the lead to two. Erik Karlsson had the giveaway plus poor coverage on the play, although he made up for it with his stellar offence throughout the game.
From here on out it was all Sens controlling the play. The turning point was when Nick Paul picked up his first ‘goal’ of the season, feathering the puck towards Bobrovsky who mishandled it into his own net. It was a lucky break for a team that really needed a pick-me-up, providing a spark for the rest of the game.
Without a goal since the beginning of the month, Matt Duchene was really pushing for another. He got it in this game, as Johnny Oduya lifted a backhand pass over the Columbus defenders to a blazing Duchene. A sweet backhand move put Bobrovsky on his belly, and he made no mistake in roofing it for another pretty goal by the Sens. Game tied 3-3 heading into the final 20 minutes.
Ottawa went up 4-3 seven minutes into the third period, this time coming from Mark Stone. Forcing the puck from the side of the net, the puck leaked past the netminder’s skate and past the goal line.
They weren’t done yet. If two slick goals wasn’t enough for one game, Bobby Ryan made it three to give Ottawa their first two goal lead in nearly two weeks. Karlsson carried the puck in the offensive zone for the odd man rush, and found Ryan as the third man walking in. Bobrovsky has made some great saves in his day, although it was no match for a man who couldn’t even feel one of his hands a week ago. Bobby scored, making it a 5-3 game.
Dion Phaneuf took a late penalty with Columbus already pushing, and Zach Werenski, who was making his return from an injury, cut the lead to one. Ottawa persisted in killing off the final 30 seconds, taking the 5-4 victory against one of the top teams in the East.
- Filip Chlapik looked better than at least two thirds of Ottawa’s forwards in his limited ice time. His 11:51 was only ahead of Burrows (8:44) and Paul (6:35).
- The other top rookie, Thomas Chabot, was also a dominant force despite playing five less minutes than the next lowest defenceman (11:09). There were two stretches in the second half of the game where he was benched for nearly ten minutes.
- Neither goalie was particularly outstanding tonight, as Condon allowed four goals on 25 shots, and Bobrovsky allowed five on 28 shots.
- Bobby Ryan had five shots on goal tonight. The last time he had that many in a regular season game? March 16th, against the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Erik Karlsson was Erik Karlsson tonight, which is fantastic because it feels like we’ve only been seeing that every second game.
- This is the Matt Duchene that we traded big to acquire. Here’s hoping we see this version more often.
The Sens hit the ice at home again tomorrow, with a rematch against the Boston Bruins. Game time is 7:00 p.m.