The Sens hadn’t played in four days, and looked to be recharged and ready to go against a struggling Devils squad.
They play the games, for a reason, folks.
The Devils dispelled any notion that they were tired, or underprepared, shutting down the Ottawa Senators and defeating them 5-2.
The first period was a stressful start for Sens fans, as Devils forward Miles Wood was assessed a penalty just 59 seconds in, when he bowled over Craig Anderson while crashing the net.
Andy was okay, but the powerplay did not provide the start Ottawa was hoping for.
With the Senators trying to establish the man advantage in the New Jersey end, Thomas Chabot was unable to hold the blue line. Pavel Zacha blew past him for the breakaway opportunity, and his shot went off of Anderson’s blocker and into the net to open the scoring for the Devils.
It didn’t get much better from there, for Ottawa. They looked anemic, and struggled to complete seemingly rudimentary passes.
There was a glimmer of hope when Chabot batted a puck down at the New Jersey line, and his subsequent pass found Brady Tkachuk alone on the doorstep, but Keith Kinkaid made a great save.
It wasn’t long after that when Max Lajoie lost the puck in his feet, and last year’s Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall came up with the puck. He made a slick cross-ice feed to Kyle Palmieri, who’s one-timer beat Craig Anderson to make it 2-0 Devils.
So much for four days rest.
Palmieri almost had another one with 6:45 to go in the frame, but rang a rocket of a slapshot off the bar.
As the first period wore on like Chinese water torture, it was evident that the Senators had no answer for the Devils’ top line. An extended presence in Ottawa’s zone near the end of the frame led to Ryan Dzingel taking a tripping penalty, and Kyle Palmieri again had another glorious opportunity to make it 3-0 on the powerplay, but couldn’t find the target.
A lethargic, and discombobulated Ottawa team headed into the intermission down 2-0. being outshot 11-7 and desperate to get a better start to the second period.
The second began with more of the same, as they were able to kill off the penalty, but Damon Severson hit the post on a Palmieri rebound just after the infraction expired.
The game started to heat up after that, as Christian Jaros and Miles Wood traded big body checks in rapid succession. Wood then clipped Ben Harpur up high with his stick to send Ottawa to the powerplay.
It was on that man advantage that Mark Stone gave the returning Matt Duchene a gorgeous feed, and the latter slipped a deft little shot past Keith Kinkaid to cut the lead in half at 2:20 of the period. It was Duchene’s 13th of the season, and added to the impressive point totals of him (35), Stone (40), and Thomas Chabot (37).
Alas, just when it seemed Ottawa was starting to gain momentum, Harpur was called for a high-sticking penalty of his own, sending the Devils to the powerplay once more.
Max Lajoie couldn’t clear the zone off the draw, and Kyle Palmieri returned the favour to Hall. #9 found himself all alone at the circle, and his shot somehow found it’s way through Craig Anderson to restore the two-goal lead.
An uncharacteristically soft goal for Andy.
The game took a bizarre turn immediately after. Brady Tkachuk had a wide-open net, but Sami Vatanen made a sensational play to block the shot, and Nico Hischier dove to keep the puck off the line, just inches from a goal.
With Ottawa’s defenders sucked into the play down low, the puck bounced off of a stray glove, directly to Kyle Palmieri. He pulled away with only Craig Anderson in front of him, and found Hall for his second goal in 1:12.
Still 13 more minutes to go in the period.
Duchene potted his second of the night at 11:53 of the period #2, with Craig Anderson on the bench for an extra attacker in light of a delayed penalty. Christian Jaros bombed a shot on net, and Bobby Ryan was able to feed the rebound to #95. He had all the time in the world to cut the lead down to 4-2.
Ottawa had another solid opportunity shortly after the 15 minute mark, but Mikkel Boedker’s Grade A chance was nullified with a slash by Brett Seney.
No call was made on that play, but Seney was penalized for a slash on Duchene with 3:39 to go in the frame.
But, you guessed it, the Sens couldn’t get out of their own way.
Ottawa was unable to muster a single shot on goal on the powerplay, and shortly upon its conclusion, Nico Hischier scooped up a Taylor Hall rebound and rifled it past Anderson to put his club up 5-2.
The wild second period sent Ottawa to the room down by three, and it just seemed like it was going to be one step forward, two steps back all night.
Mike McKenna was in the crease to start the third, after Craig Anderson gave up five goals on 25 shots. Granted, not all were his fault, but the two weak ones were softer than anyone in a Montréal Canadiens uniform.
Ottawa started the third maintaining some decent pressure in the offensive zone, making sure McKenna didn’t have to see much action. Although not achieving many scoring chances themselves.
The third period saw both teams struggle to establish any time on attack, with most chances being low-percentage from the perimeter. The Senators were handed a pair of powerplays, but weren’t able to convert.
Tempers flared late in the period when Mark Borowiecki and Miles Wood attempted to drop the gloves, but an overzealous linesman jumped in before the two could formally square off. Both were sent to their respective locker rooms for their troubles, while Brady Tkachuk made friends with Blake Coleman and Brian Boyle.
The rest of the frame was fairly uneventful, and 5-2 was the final.
- Matt Duchene was easily Ottawa’s best player all night, scoring two goals in his return from injury. He was solid on the puck, his passes were crisp, and he gave the Senators more of a chance than they deserved.
- Brady Tkachuk was in the middle of things all night. Not just stirring the pot, but generating offensive opportunities. He would have had a goal were it not for the desperation play by Vatanen and Hischier.
- Mark Stone was solid as always. One assist on the evening, but he’s consistently been Ottawa’s MVP all season.