Well, what more could’ve we expected.
In the final regular season game of 2016-17, with second place in the Atlantic division already clinched, tonight’s game was meaningless for the Ottawa Senators in the standings. Many key players stayed in Ottawa to rest, including Karlsson, Stone, Hoffman. The New York Islanders took advantage of the depleted roster, taking this one by a score of 4-2.
The game didn’t start off too well for Ottawa, as the Islanders gained some extended offensive zone pressure, leading to an Andrew Ladd goal three minutes in. An awkward puck bounce off of Chris Wideman left a wide open net for Ladd, who put the puck past Mike Condon for the early goal.
Bobby Ryan had a great chance midway through the period, making a hard drive to the net before tumbling down. A penalty was drawn on the play, although nothing came of the power play. Ottawa continued to pile on offensive pressure in the last few minutes, dominating in total shot attempts 32-11 after one.
The second period is where the flaws began to show. New York jumped to the 2-0 lead, off a goal from Anders Lee. It was a nice passing play that exposed the inexperience of rookies Ben Harpur and Andreas Englund, leading to Lee’s team-leading 34th goal of the season. He’s been on fire recently, with six goals in his last six games. The Sens went down 3-0 soon after, with Brock Nelson racing past Andreas Englund and beating Condon five-hole.
Ottawa regained their momentum soon after, piling on 13 shot attempts late in the frame. Bobby Ryan broke the ice for Ottawa, beating Thomas Greiss with a nice wrist shot. The goal broke droughts not only for Ryan, who went the previous twelve games without a point, but for Ryan Dzingel, who’s been held off the scoresheet in his last ten.
Bobby gets the #Sens on the board. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/hOzWVLvP7B— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) April 9, 2017
The Sens went into the locker room with the momentum, although still down 3-1.
Of note tonight was the return of Chris Neil to the lineup, who had been out with a hand injury since late February. In what could very well be his last regular season game of his career, he entered tonight looking for career point #250.
He earned that point two and a half minutes into the third period, a secondary assist, as Alex Burrows sent a puck to the net that took a bounce and found the stick of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Pageau’s shot went past Greiss, cutting the Islanders’ lead in half and giving Ottawa seventeen minutes to complete the comeback.
The game remained pretty uneventful from that point to end, with Condon getting pulled in the final minute only to have Jason Chimera score on the empty net. The Islanders concluded their season on a six game win streak, while the Senators will head into the playoffs having won three of their last four.
The Ottawa Senators’ final regular season record is 44-28-10, for a total of 98 points.
Sens Hero: Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan’s late-season slumps are well known amongst Sens fans. He had one goal in his last 20 games in 2014-15, zero in his last 16 games in 2015-16, and none in his last thirteen entering tonight. With his couple great plays tonight, it was nice to see Bobby have a good game heading into the post-season. Let’s hope he can keep this up in the playoffs.
Honourable Mention: Chris DiDomenico
In only his third NHL game, DiDo led both teams with five shots on goal. I’m not expecting him to play in the playoffs barring more injuries, although it’s insuring knowing we have the options available.
Sens Zero: Andreas Englund
Not to knock on the young blueliner’s overall game, but tonight seemed weak for Englund, who looked lost on two of the Islanders’ goals. He’s debatably been Binghamton’s best defender this season, so let’s hope this game wasn’t an accurate representation of who he is.
Sens Killer: Brock Nelson
Scored the game-winning goal and added another two assists.
Next Up: It’s playoffs time! As of writing, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets are tied at two nearing the end of the second period. Should Toronto take at least a point, they will face the Sens in the first round. Otherwise, it will be the Boston Bruins.