Although the Islanders got off to an abysmal start to the 2016-17 season, they had been much better of late, going 7-1-2 since Doug Weight had taken over as head coach. New York was 8th in points percentage in the East heading into the matchup, so it wasn’t like Ottawa was facing a cellar dweller anymore.
Things got out to a good start, as Mark Stone became the first Senator to hit the 20-goal mark just 4:10 into the game. According to Pierre Dorion, 8 fellow teammates will surely follow in getting to 20 goals this season.
It wasn’t the prettiest of finishes as he scored behind the net, but the turnover at the beginning of the play was vintage Stone.
The rest of the period was encouraging, as the Islanders never seemed threatening, plus the only powerplay went to the Senators thanks to a late Jason Chimera hit on Stone.
Despite New York coming out flying in the second period and leading in shots 6-1 early on, it was Ottawa that scored two goals on back to back shots three minutes apart. Both of them were quite beautiful if I do say so myself.
First, Zack Smith finished off the play after two pretty passes, thwarting the momentum New York was beginning to build.
Pretty sharp passing sequence by the Sens here. pic.twitter.com/tyeDEvdoUM— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) February 11, 2017
Right after the goal though, the Islanders had a chance to get back into it due to a Smith high-sticking penalty. After some time in the defensive zone, Chris Kelly was able to get it out, and from there Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tom Pyatt would continue their excellent penalty kill by keeping the puck in the Islanders zone.
Just as Smith was heading out of the box, all of a sudden Pyatt and Pageau were coming down on a dangerous 2-on-1. Pyatt waited until the last second to pass it over, and a little tap was all it took for the puck to go in off Pageau’s stick to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead.
With the way Craig Anderson had played until that point, a 3-0 lead seemed pretty safe. However, that doens’t mean the Islanders stopped with their pressure. The second half of the period was predictably dominant from New York’s perspective, as they out-attempted Ottawa 23-10 at even strength and 31-10 overall.
It was no surprise that Ottawa sat back after going up 3-0, but luckily Anderson stood tall after 40 minutes to keep his shutout alive.
The third period was not much better than the second half of the second, and it was rather uneventful. It wasn’t good to see Ottawa sit back on their lead so much, but it’s almost impossible to mitigate score effects.
Fittingly, Anderson finished the job and got his fourth shutout of the season, which was awesome to see. It was not the greatest of efforts, but they finished their chances when it mattered, winning with the final score being 3-0. After back to back worrying losses, Ottawa has now won two in a row and are seemingly back on track.
Aren’t afternoon wins just the best? The rest of the day feels so great.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
What more can I say? His play speaks for itself. His last game before leaving the team in December was not pretty as he gave up seven goals against Pittsburgh. However, he has been fantastic outside of that game this season, and I’m not surprised at all that he was able to come back and get a shutout right away.
Honourable Mention: Jean-Gabriel Pageau/Tom Pyatt
They both had a phenomenal penalty kill in the second period, and although Pageau’s goal was not officially shorthanded, it essentially was. These two created a goal out of nothing at a time when it is very hard to score, and they gave the team some insurance with the third goal.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
The first goal was all thanks to him, and he continues to make plays that almost nobody can make. He forced turnovers out of nowhere and consistently won battles all around the ice. We’re witnessing “Second Half of the Season Stone.”
Next game for the Senators is Tuesday at home against the Sabres.