In three games this month, the Ottawa Senators have scored 13 goals. They scored 26 in 14 games during the month of December.
In a game that was topsy-turvy — sort-of like the Sens season thus far — Ottawa managed to score three third-period goals to close out the NHL’s best team, on the second-half of a back-to-back. It’s a far cry from last week’s back-to-back, where, after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets in a similar comeback fashion as last night’s victory over the Sharks, the Sens responded with a goose egg against the Boston Bruins.
It’s almost like the Sens had that etched into their minds as they started this game flying out of the gate. After killing a Mike Hoffman tripping penalty just two minutes into the game, Ryan Dzingel scores the game’s opening marker. The speedy forward rockets into the zone and is met by Jake Dotchin, who handles the initial offensive play but gets the puck stolen from him by (who else) Mark Stone. Stone quickly shimmies the puck to Dzingel, who already has his stick ready to wire it past Vasilevskiy for a 1-0 lead.
Just 1:03 later, the Sens continue to cause chaos in the offensive zone. Matt Duchene, fresh off a three-point night last night, wins a board battle against three (!) Lightning players and shovels it towards goal. The puck ends up on the stick of Bobby Ryan, who’s behind-the-back pass to Hoffman fails, but ends up bouncing back to Duchene. The Haliburton native makes no mistake and rips it past Vasilevskiy — rewarded for his good work.
The Lightning start to gain steam and have an incredible sequence where, in under two minutes of game-time, rattle off 12 (!!!!!) shot attempts, but none of them find their way past Craig Anderson, who was excellent (and a teeny bit lucky) tonight.
In fact, it’s the Senators who strike for a third time in a period. First, Tom Pyatt intercepts a Bolts zone exit and gets the puck to Pageau. The diminutive forward circles all the way around the Lightning net and protects the puck back to the point, where a quick point-to-point pass gets the puck to Erik Karlsson. Karlsson snaps it quickly on net and to the stick of a reaching Zack Smith for a 3-0 lead.
The #fun doesn’t last, as the Lightning strike twice in the first two minutes of the second period. Victor Hedman gets his fifth goal of the season unassisted just 26 seconds in. It’s quickly followed by Slater Koekkoek’s fourth of the year, as he isn’t picked up by a Sens defender after the Bolts quickly transitioned up the ice (Sergachev -> Kucherov -> Killorn -> Kucherov -> Koekkoek).
Ex-Sens forward Cory Conacher almost ties the game, but is defended nicely from taking middle ice by Thomas Chabot. Chabot nearly helps the Sens regain the lead right after with a quick up to Dzingel, who can’t corral it. Then, transitions the puck to Karlsson, whose bank pass to Brassard, and then to Dumont nearly works but leads to nothing but a meh looking Sens powerplay.
The rough stuff then begins with Zack Smith and Nikita Kucherov — a sustained feud that lasted the entire night — take coincidental minor penalties to bring the game to 4-on-4. Moments after they return from the box, Smith goes in a little too hard on Kucherov in the corner, and takes a two-minute minor for roughing. Here, the Lightning powerplay finally strikes, with Mikhail Sergachev’s point shot tipped past Anderson by Yanni Gourde to knot the game at three.
The Sens nearly recover their lead after Dzingel - Brassard - Stone; Chabot - Karlsson get an extended offensive zone shift featuring two #ChaBombs, but are unable to pot a fourth goal. With <30 seconds left, Hedman and Dotchin skate up the ice and nearly generate a goal that’s thwarted by a Johnny Oduya cross-check (and subsequent penalty).
The teams enter the third period tied in the goal department, but favouring the Lightning in every other metric (33-22 shots; 67-38 attempts).
In the first 10 minutes of the third period, the Sens failed to generate a single shot on goal and instead of trying to generate any offence, were content to chip the puck down to the Bolts zone for a quick change. Thus, you could hardly believe my surprise that the game ended 6-3 in favour of Ottawa.
It starts with nine minutes left with Mark Stone. As he enters the zone with pressure, Thomas Chabot ends up with the puck and fires a sweet seam pass to Derick Brassard, who can’t find the back of the net. Luckily, Stone is in the vicinity, and gathers up the rebound to give the Sens a 4-3 lead.
After the two teams trade chances — Hoffman - Duchene - Ryan for Ottawa; Koekkoek and Gourde for the Lightning — Dotchin and Brassard take coincidental minors and the game turns to 4-on-4. On the ensuing faceoff, Jean-Gabriel Pageau beats Steven Stamkos clearly, heads to the front of the net, and tips an Erik Karlsson shot past Vasilevskiy to make it 5-3.
After Duchene and Hoffman nearly scored again, Dzingel - Brassard - Stone step back onto the ice and seal the deal. Stone circles the puck from the right-wing boards back to Karlsson, who fires a slap pass towards the net. Dzingel, one of the only forwards capable of handling Karlsson’s magic, corals the puck and backhands it into the waning cage. It’s his second of the night and fourth in three games.
The Lightning try hard to get a fourth goal past Anderson — especially during a 6-on-4 period with Ben Harpur off for slashing — but the Sens do a good job of keeping the Lightning at the points (minus one Alex Killorn missed chance).
Ultimately, despite giving up 48 shots and 58% of the shot attempts at even-strength, the Senators manage to come away with a win. Given how the Senators have had their fare share of bad luck with the on-ice percentages, they deserved some bounces against the league’s best goaltender and received a .938 sv% from a struggling Craig Anderson to pick up four points in this weekend.
Some other notes:
- Sens PK keeps Lightning to 1/5 on the powerplay. TB came into tonight’s contest with goals in 30 of the team’s 40 games; had a couple of chances (Anderson robbing Stamkos two minutes into the game after VN cross-creased it to him). Ultimately, the team did a great job of defending the shooting lanes despite the copious amount of zone time generated by Tampa.
- Mark Stone followed up a three point game with another three point game. Erik Karlsson had 3 assists and was a +5 in 29:30 of ice time. Thomas Chabot led all Sens skaters with a 62% CF% at even-strength.
- Johnny Oduya ended up leaving the game after taking an accidental kick to the crotch while preventing a goal in the second. Don’t know if that led to the injury, or the big hit Namestnikov laid on him at the start of the first. With Fredrik Claesson eligible to return from suspension next game, expect him to draw in if Oduya’s out for a bit.
- Colin White played a team-low 7:50, and looked good on the one shift he had with skilled players (Hoffman, Duchene). Thomas Chabot had an assist and 6 (!) shots on goal in 18:01 of ice-time; more than Oduya and Ben Harpur.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick
Heat Map via Natural Stat Trick