Only two games left! It was fan appreciation night in the regular season’s final game at the CTC, and the Ottawa Senators showed their appreciation by coming up big to clinch home ice in round one of the playoffs, by defeating the New York Rangers 3-1. Now the watch is on for their first round opponent, which Ross went through this morning.
Both teams were heavily injured entering tonight, with Karlsson, Methot, Ryan and Smith all out with injury for the Sens. Also relevant tonight was that Mika Zibanejad and Matt Puempel both made their returns to Ottawa.
It was also an early start at 12:30, so if you’re reading this and were expecting a game tonight, well... at least we won?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that the game began so early, but both teams came out of the gate slow. There were only eight total shots in the first period, four apiece, with no scoring.
Halfway through, Kyle Turris took the puck away just inside the offensive zone, and had a clear path to the net. At the other end of the ice, however, Tanner Glass decided to drop the gloves with Mark Borowiecki, preventing the scoring chance from occurring. Glass and Boro exchanged punches, and Turris showed his displeasure, although it’s unclear whether he realized there was a fight, or if it was a delayed offside call.
The Sens took to the power play a bit later, and mid-way through received a brief 5-on-3 after Oscar Lindberg put the puck over glass. The power play looked surprisingly dangerous sans Karlsson, with the best chance being a Hoffman snipe that pinged off the crossbar.
The second period is where the Sens decided to take over. Three minutes in, Cody Ceci sent a shot to the net that Henrik Lundqvist would save. Ottawa recovered the puck, and quickly found Mike Hoffman who made no mistake in putting the puck past a sprawling Henrik Lundqvist.
Ottawa would extend their lead not too long after. Viktor Stalberg would carry the puck into the offensive zone, and send a pass to a poorly covered Derick Brassard. The former Ranger would score his 14th goal of the year, surpassing the halfway mark for his total last season (27).
The Sens and Rags would exchange high-sticking penalties later, but nothing would come of either. The Rangers, like the Sens, were also missing some key offensive players, with Rick Nash, Jesper Fast and Mats Zuccarello all not playing.
Quick MacArthur update: he’s still looking good. Guy Boucher’s beginning to warm up to him, as he played a total 16:25, mostly alongside Kyle Turris. Now with Hoffman, Dzingel, Smith, Stalberg AND MacArthur on the left side, the Sens are far from short in that department.
The Senators continued to dominate for the rest of the game, leading in shot attempts 40-26 in the last two periods.
Six minutes into the final frame, Mark Borowiecki sent a shot in from the point that was deflected by Jean-Gabriel Pageau and went past Lundqvist. It was Boro’s third point of the season, surpassing his 2015-16 total. More importantly, however, is that with a goal and assist on the night, Pageau received his 100th career point!
It was smooth sailing almost until the end, until Craig Anderson’s shutout was spoiled in the final minute. Mika Zibanejad, who definitely knew what to do against Craig Anderson, scored on a wraparound to make the game 3-1. It wouldn’t matter as Ottawa won the game, clinching second in the Atlantic division for home ice in the first round.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
Leading the Sens with five shots on goal, Hoffman was as dangerous as ever tonight, especially on the power play.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
Although he didn’t quite get his sixth shutout of the season, Andy made plenty of key stops (18 of 19) including robbing Matt Puempel in the third period.
Sens Hero: The Rangers’ defence
Here was New York’s defence corps from tonight (via DailyFaceoff):
Defence has been a problem for the Rangers all season, and tonight was no exception, as Ottawa was able to capitalize. Missing Ryan McDonagh and Nick Holden only added to their pain.
Sens Killer: Henrik Lundqvist
Life wasn’t easy tonight for Henrik Lundqvist, as you can see by the heat map below. Although he allowed three goals, he stopped plenty more high danger chances.
Sens Killer: Mika Zibanejad
Leading NYR in shots on goal and time on ice, of course Z-Bad had to be the goal scorer in his return to Ottawa. Brassard scored as well, so for now, it’s even.
(Ottawa dominated in shot attempts, especially after the first period.)
(Ottawa got plenty of pucks to the front of the net, whereas the Rangers were taking more shots from the point.)
Coming Up: The regular season closes out tomorrow, as Ottawa travels to Brooklyn to face the New York Islanders. After that: PLAYOFFS!!!