It was a game that featured two 2015 first-round picks in their NHL debuts: Evgeny Svechnikov and Colin White. And in the end they both featured prominently, with Svechnikov scoring the only goal of the shootout (in the 6th round) and White having a chance to also score but coming up short. It was also a game that featured several fluky goals, with the Red Wings outscoring the Senators 3-1 by my count on that front. Still, a point is a point, and as many points as the Sens cant get with a depleted defence corps is crucial.
Erik Karlsson was a game-time decision, but he ended up playing. The team had to know that a Karlsson at 55% was still the best defenceman on this team.
The first period featured no scoring, but with some decent chances at both ends. OK, mostly at the Sens’ end. After all, the shot count was 16-8. I was surprised to learn after the period that Svechnikov only played 4:30 in that first period because he seemed in on most of the Wings’ scoring chances. Thankfully for Ottawa, the first ended 0-0.
The second period was much better for Ottawa process-wise, but a couple fluky goals had the team in a hole. The first goal came just 40 seconds in. Frans Nielsen threw a puck in front from behind the net that hit Ben Harpur’s skate and deflected off Craig Anderson’s neck and into the net. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I felt pretty down after that goal, knowing the Sens aren’t playing at full strength. Thankfully, it only took a minute for Ottawa to tie things up, with Alexandre Burrows wiring home his fifth as a Senator from the high slot. Petr Mrazek missed the puck cleanly, and suddenly it was a tie game. Ottawa would even force a too-many-men penalty, but then the powerplay allowed the second goal of the game. Dylan Larkin tossed a puck on net from a terrible angle that somehow Anderson missed. It’s one he definitely would’ve wanted back. What’s sad is that he’d been strong all game, stopping multiple breakaways, but allowed two goals on nothing plays.
Ottawa did shape up from that point though. They seemed to adopt my NHL 17 strategy of throw everything on net, and hope for something good. They looked like a dangerous team for the first time in four games. They even managed to draw another penalty as the period wound down, setting up a third that started with a man advantage.
The third period saw Ottawa take their first and only fluky goal of the game, and to be fair, it was the worst one of the game. Karlsson threw the puck on net from the corner, and somehow Mrazek played it off the back of his stick and between his own legs into the net. It was an awful goal to allow, but as a Sens fan, no complaints on my end. However, Detroit would seize control of the game thanks to two questionable tripping calls. The first saw Karlsson go off for tripping Riley Sheahan, with EK yelling that Sheahan dove to draw it. The second saw Derick Brassard go off for “tripping” Frans Nielsen after Nielsen stepped on his stick. The Wings would score on both.
For the first goal, a bizarre scramble in front led to the goal. Anderson dove to poke-check the puck, but it hit Gustav Nyquist’s skate and bounced over Andy towards the net. Burrows dove to stop it, but Tomas Tatar got his stick just barely on the puck to direct it into the net (and ensure it wasn’t a kicked-in goal). On the second powerplay, Andy allowed his only real goal of the game. He tipped in a shot from the point, giving Anderson almost no chance on the shot. A two-goal deficit in the third period didn’t look good for Ottawa. Thankfully, just 22 seconds later, Kyle Turris snapped home a great shot from the slot through a Jonathan Ericsson screen to give the Sens hope. And hope cashed in because right after a TV timeout, Fredrik Claesson blasted one home right off a faceoff. I don’t know what the scouting report was on Mrazek, but high glove beat him cleanly twice on the night.
That would do it for the period, sending the game to OT. Ottawa had the better chances in OT, with a trio of breakaways for Karlsson, Karlsson again, and then Mike Hoffman in a very short span, but they couldn’t beat Mrazek. That theme would continue in the shootout, ending with Svechnikov finally sealing it. You’d hope for a better result when you outshoot the opposition 45-33, but at least Ottawa got a single point out of this game. I’m still scared about the playoffs, but at least this helped.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
This team had offence (and a breakout) for the first time in a week tonight, and it was due 100% to the captain’s return. This team is almost nothing without its star player. Mark Stone is a very good hockey player, but he can’t run the team himself.
Honourable Mention: Fredrik Claesson
He has a bullet of a shot, and he played 21:23 tonight. Nice to play for a coach who trusts you.
Shout-out: Ben Harpur
He only played 11:30, but he was surprisingly OK in that time, and one fluky goal aside, didn’t have any plays standing out. No wonder he’s the AHL’s best defenceman.
Colin White watch:
He didn’t look out of place in his first NHL game. It’s hard to stand out when playing with Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels, but hey, he seemed fine. It’ll be nice to get the nerves out of the way and hopefully settle into a regular role.
You’d think I’d have someone to single out negatively in a loss, but I can’t. Ottawa was the better team for 2/3rds of the game and deserved much better than some questionable calls and some truly unlucky goals deciding it.
(Description: as the line moves toward one team, they’re getting more shot attempts. So on this one, Detroit took over play early in the second, and then Ottawa dominated the rest of the game. Red dots represent Detroit goals, black dots are Ottawa goals.)
(Description: The area on the left shows where most of Ottawa’s shots came from - no surprise about the right point in a game in which Karlsson played. The same for Detroit on the left side.)
Why would those be up an hour after the game’s over? HIGHLIGHT PACKAGES ARE HARD TO MAKE.