This game could have marked a huge milestone in the Sens’ existence as a franchise.
Right before puck drop, TSN1200 tweeted out an announcement that shook the entire foundation of this fanbase:
Looking Tom Pyatt will be a scratch tonight as Guy Boucher goes with a 11-7 line-up. #Sens— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) December 8, 2018
Yes, after 29 games of truly horrendous play that dragged down absolutely everyone around him, it looked like the legendary Tom Pyatt was finally going to sit out a game.
He didn’t sit out the game.
Maybe Boucher had a change of heart, or maybe he has some really great blackmail material on the guy, but whatever the reason, the coach decided to scratch Christian Jaros in his stead.
Sens fans didn’t get to witness a Pyatt-less team tonight, but they did get to see a win, so there’s that.
The Penguins looked like the better team right from the first drop of the puck, getting a few dangerous shots on Craig Anderson. The Sens didn’t look completely overwhelmed right away, and did manage to spend a bit of time in the offensive zone, but they were lucky not to give up the first goal in the first few minutes when Pittsburgh showed off their offensive talent.
Of course, in true 2018-19 Ottawa Senators fashion, Thomas Chabot put his team up 1-0 less than five minutes in. The Sens continued to give up many good chances after that, as Anderson was peppered with grade-A chances and the Sens’ defensemen scrambled around in their zone. So business as usual, basically.
Boom. #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/JPppOxhQB5— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) December 9, 2018
It might just be me, but their strategy of blocking every Penguins shot without even attempting to break out of their zone seems a little bit unsustainable.
The Sens occasionally managed to dump the puck out and hold onto it for a few seconds, but essentially all that happened during the bulk of the first period was that Anderson made more saves, the Sens blocked more shots, and the Penguins’ shot count creeped up.
Things evened out a little bit toward the end of the frame, and Colin White made a particularly nice move in the neutral zone. The Sens even managed to hold the Pens at 16 shots for the last 6 minutes or so! However, neither team got the puck in the net and the period finished 1-0 Sens.
Before I had even registered that the second period had started, Zack Smith had doubled the Sens’ lead with a surprisingly nice move in front of the Penguins’ net. Unfortunately, the goal was challenged by the Penguins’ coach and overturned due to the Sens being offside.
The Penguins bounced right back, evening the score within a few minutes off a shot that nobody could blame Anderson for letting in. After that, Ottawa was right back where they started: trapped in their own zone.
The Sens’ first power play of the game happened just under ten minutes into the period, when Derrick Brassard went to the box for tripping Drake Batherson. The power play was surprisingly effective, and resulted in a few good chances if not any goals. Even after it ended, Ottawa continued to look surprisingly good, doing a much better job at containing Pittsburgh’s offense.
Play was mostly even for the rest of the period, although Ottawa did get a few nice looks at the net during the last three minutes, including a beautiful shot by Chabot that hit the post. The refs missed a pretty obvious slew foot on Colin White, but thankfully the Sens got another powerplay late in the period when Riley Sheahan slammed Dylan DeMelo into the boards. It was 1-1 after 20.
Ottawa started the third period on the power play, and kept the momentum going for the first five minutes. Unfortunately, Smith soon went to the box for an extremely dirty hit to the head on Sidney Crosby. The Pens’ captain stayed down for awhile, and considering his history I was surprised he was even allowed to stay on the ice. Smith was lucky to get away with a minor penalty and I won’t be at all surprised if he ends up getting a suspension for the play.
The Senators killed off the penalty and played well enough afterward that by the halfway point of the period they had almost caught up to the Penguins in shots.
It didn’t last, but they were close.
With about five minutes left, Brady Tkachuk did... something. I think he flipped another player and then tackled him? Anyways, he ended up in the box and the Sens killed off the penalty, but not without giving their fans a few heart attacks. The last few minutes of regulation were reasonably exciting, but solved nothing, and the game went into overtime.
The highlight of overtime was White getting a beautiful breakaway that was unfortunately stopped. It only took a few seconds for Dzingel to end the game off a beautiful feed from Mark Stone.
- As always, Craig Anderson was fantastic, especially in the first period.
- Thomas Chabot was also great, scoring one goal and hitting the post a few times.
- Drake Batherson played pretty well away from Duchene.