It might not have been pretty, but a win is a win and the Ottawa Senators managed to make the most of their opportunities for their first win of the young season.
Although the Toronto Maple Leafs dominated play for much of the game and ended with a 37-24 shot advantage, Ottawa took advantage of Frederik Andersen’s rough night while Craig Anderson stood on his head. At this laughably early point in the season, Ottawa sits tied with the Montreal Canadiens atop the Atlantic Division.
The game started pretty well for Ottawa, and Ryan Dzingel had a great scoring chance barely 30 seconds into the first frame after a nice pass from Matt Duchene.
Then Toronto stepped things up.
Throughout the game we saw both teams displaying a lot of speed, but Toronto’s exceptional skill level was clear in the number of chances they generated. (Hard to believe they’re voluntarily playing without one of their top young guns, too.) Mid-way through the period, though, it was Dylan DeMelo who opened the scoring with his first goal in 88 games after a nice play by Thomas Chabot and a tough play by Andersen.
Come to think of it, that’s the story of the game: A collection of nice plays by Chabot and rough moments for Andersen.
Anderson-with-an-O, however, was great all night long, and his first period highlights included a solid stop on Mitch Marner after the Leafs’ playmaker was awarded a (highly questionable) penalty shot.
Toronto came out like gangbusters in the second period, with their top two lines notching goals just 41 seconds apart to put the Leafs up early. Then Chabot scored a beauty after walking Tyler Ennis and potting his own rebound to tie the game, and Ottawa went up when Chris Tierney displayed some great speed and scored his first in an Ottawa uniform. Before the end of the period, Marner — the Leafs best player on the night — scored on the powerplay to tie things up. After 40 minutes, Toronto was outshooting Ottawa 24-16 and possession time was probably in line with that.
Early in the third period, our jaws hit the floor. Out of nowhere, Thomas Chabot dangled Leafs’ rookie Igor Ozhiganov and roofed the puck over the shoulder of Andersen. It was a thing of absolute beauty. Watch:
Unreal. I knew Chabot was good. I knew he was very good. I didn’t know he was this good.
The Leafs kept pushing, especially late in the third, but they couldn’t beat Anderson again and Mark Stone scored an empty-netter to cap the 5-3 victory. FYI: Toronto has won three of 13 games against Ottawa in the Mike Babcock era.
- Thomas Chabot, obviously. He looked very good in the season opener and stepped it up further tonight against Toronto. His second goal was unreal, and earned Hotsam a place alongside Jason Spezza’s dangling of Sheldon Souray in the Sens’ all-time highlight reel.
- Including Chabot, I thought most of the defenders looked good tonight. The newfound interest in an active D in the offensive zone is very exciting, and it looks like Ottawa’s young group can do it well — Chabot, Max Lajoie and Dylan DeMelo have all looked good in the attacking zone so far, Chris Wideman is recognized as someone who can jump up well, and even Mark Borowiecki has shown some good instincts pushing the play a bit. Cody Ceci doesn’t step up too often, but I won’t hold that against him.
- Craig Anderson was excellent tonight. Starting with the early penalty shot stop on Mitch Marner and moving forward from there, he was definitely on his game. If he can keep up play like that, the Sens’ season might not be as catastrophic as many have predicted it will be.
- Dylan DeMelo might just have benefited from playing with Thomas Chabot, but even if that’s the case, they looked very good together. Expect them to play with one another for the foreseeable future.
- Cody Ceci struggled possession-wise (although not as badly as Bobby Ryan), but I want to commend his excellent desperation play to break up a 2-on-1 with Marner and John Tavares. Early in the third period, with Ottawa up by one, Ceci stretched out and used every inch of his reach to get his stick on the puck and deflect Marner’s pass safely away from Tavares. It was a small thing, but could have become a big thing.
The Sens visit the Boston Bruins for an afternoon game on Thanksgiving Monday.