The Winnipeg Jets headed into September 27th’s matchup on a high note, coming off a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday. Ottawa’s Monday matchup didn’t go as well as theirs, and I’ll just leave it at that. However, it was only Ottawa’s first loss of the pre-season, and with both teams trimming their rosters down to the potential NHLers, the game was crucial for many fringe players to show what they could do. The Sens ended with the short end of the stick, however, losing 5-3 while giving up four straight goals in the final 20:10.
Ottawa took the early lead in the opening period, with Bobby Ryan bringing back a little bit of his playoff magic. In the offensive zone, Ryan made a great play to get the puck away from two Winnipeg players and free up some space. He sent a shot towards Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who didn’t anticipate the play and saw it fly by. It was a weak goal for the Jets goalie, although it must’ve felt great for Ryan to get his first goal of what he’s hoping to be a resurgent 2017-18.
The rest of the period showed no clear advantage to either team. With Johnny Oduya taking a late interference penalty, the Winnipeg Jets took to the power play where Nic Petan found the back of the net off a tip in front. Josh Morrissey (who was originally credited with the goal) took the shot towards a group of bodies in front. With Mike Condon screened, and a slight tip from a foot away, Winnipeg was able to tie the game with only 10 seconds remaining on the first period clock.
One player who has been turning heads this preseason is Alex Formenton, the 18-year-old rookie who the Sens drafted in the second round just months ago. Renowned for his game-breaking speed, his most common critique is that he doesn’t quite have the smarts to match his speed, and the Sens drafted him hoping that it might someday click.
It appears that click may have already happened.
With the Jets trying to move the puck through the neutral zone, Formenton pickpocketed potential 2018 Calder Trophy candidate Kyle Connor and raced the other way on a breakaway. Formenton raised his shot over the shoulder of Hellebuyck, giving Ottawa the 2-1 lead.
The Senators extended their lead to 3-1, this time on a 6v5 with a delayed penalty to the Jets. Kyle Turris was begging for a pass on the right side, as the jumbled Jets were leaving him wide open. The first pass didn’t work, but the play resumed and Mark Stone made a cleaner pass on the second attempt. Turris was left with a wide open cage, as Ottawa capitalized to extend their lead to two.
In a similar situation to 20 minutes of play earlier, Ottawa took another penalty near the end of the second period that put them a player short. Tom Pyatt was caught for slashing halfway through, giving Winnipeg 55 seconds of 5v3 with 20 seconds remaining in the period. Dustin Byfuglien has one of the most dangerous shots in the league, and his blast from the point (with 10 seconds left again) brought the Jets back within one.
Although Ottawa possessed the lead, Winnipeg possessed the ice tilt, with nearly three times the amount of shot attempts at 5v5 (30-11). Both teams were struggling to get many high-danger chances, but nevertheless Ottawa led 3-2.
The Jets’ offensive pressure was eventually rewarded, with Bryan Little netting one past Mike Condon. The goal came on the power play yet again with the Sens’ struggling PK finishing the night with a measly 57% kill rate.
A tie game didn’t satisfy the Jets, as they took the lead for the first time of the game. A lost Mark Borowiecki and an unsuccesful swipe of the stick by Mark Stone both proved to be costly mistakes, as it sent Nic Petan and Marko Dano down the ice together with Thomas Chabot as the only player back. Chabot tried to block the pass from Petan, although the perfect saucer pass got the puck to Dano who buried it past Condon.
Ottawa poured on he pressure near the end with the goalie pulled, although it came to no avail as an empty net goal sealed the victory for the Jets.
Alex Formenton: Speed on the forecheck, speed on the backcheck — everything Formenton does involves speed. He used it to his advantage tonight.
Johnny Oduya: Three minor penalties for Oduya on the night, two of which led to goals for the opposition. He wasn’t much more effective outside the penalty box either, on the ice for nearly triple the shot attempts against compared to attempts for.
Nate Thompson: Thompson led the charge on the Sens’ PK, an unsuccessful one at that. He struggled to create any form of offence, constantly getting pressured in the defensive end.
Mark Stone: Although he took an untimely penalty near the end of the game, Stone was crucial to Ottawa’s power play while also being one of the more successful players at 5v5.
Mark Borowiecki: Please keep him off Thomas Chabot’s pairing. Please Guy Boucher. Please.
The final game of pre-season makes its may to Quebec’s metropolis, as the Sens will take on the Montreal Canadiens, a team who has yet to win a game (0-6).