The Senators were already missing Derick Brassard thanks to a trade, and this afternoon could’ve been the last game for Ottawa for a number of players: Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mike Hoffman, even Erik Karlsson. Johnny Oduya was scratched presuming a trade, which means he’d likely already played his last in a Sens jersey. The game against the Flyers felt very secondary compared to all the other things going on in Sens-land recently.
For what felt like the 1000th time this season, the Sens allowed the opening goals, and for what felt like the 84th time, it was in the first minute. Just 28 seconds in, Ivan Provorov ripped it home.
Ottawa would get a chance to come back in just three minutes later with a powerplay, but despite controlling most of the play, they couldn’t put one in the net. Robert Hagg instead doubled the Flyers’ lead, putting one through Craig Anderson’s glove that Andy probably would’ve wanted back. It was kind of the story of the season to see a game in which Ottawa didn’t look bad, but were still losing 2-0 early.
Ryan Dzingel would draw the next powerplay of the game with a great move to the front of the net. That powerplay would net the Sens their first goal of the game, with Thomas Chabot and Mike Hoffman playing catch at the blue line before the latter ripped it home. Ottawa would then continue to press for the equalizer, with Tom Pyatt getting two glorious chances that he just couldn’t get over Petr Mrazek’s pad.
The Flyers got a late powerplay chance on which Anderson redeemed himself, making two great saves, including one on a point-blank rebound chance by Nolan Patrick. Zack Smith got a decent shorthanded chance (driving up that trade value!) and then Nick Shore pulled his best Erik Condra impression, somehow missing a gaping cage after a perfect saucer pass by Mark Stone on a 2-on-1. That meant the period ended 2-1, but with Ottawa probably deserving better.
If the first period had been exciting, the second period decidedly wasn’t. Things that stuck out to me in the first 10 minutes:
- Marian Gaborik stealing the puck at his own blue line to set up a breakaway chance, except having no speed to actually get the breakaway
- Nick Shore having another good chance in tight but not scoring
- Ottawa’s offensive zone pressure forcing the Flyers into two consecutive icing calls
Finally, 10 minutes in, something exciting happened. First, the Patrick line forced Anderson into several big saves, including one while lying on his side. That save led to a 3-on-2 the other way on which Ryan Dzingel hit the bar. Ottawa would score just after after a Hoffman shot squeaked through Mrazek and Zack Smith tucked it in from the crease, However, the play was challenged for offside on the zone entry, and it was (rightfully) overturned. Philly almost got the next one, but Anderson stood tall, continuing to be strong after an admittedly weak Hagg goal. Ottawa would wind down the period with yet another powerplay, then extended offensive zone pressure until the period ran out, but with no goals either way.
The third period didn’t start off well for a team still trying to win. After stopping 25 shots in a row, Claude Giroux found himself in on a breakaway and made just the right moves to score. It was followed up by Patrick tipping in a Brandon Manning point shot. Just after that, Manning’s dump-in hit a stanchion and fooled Anderson who went behind the net to play the puck, bouncing from an impossible angle into a vacated net. It was so surprising, TSN originally credited the goal to the Sens:
Then Gaborik decided to give Mrazek a shot to the back of the leg while skating behind the net, sending the Flyers to the powerplay (though Ottawa got the better chances on that powerplay).
After a clean hit and some shoving sent Max McCormick and Jori Lehtera to the box, Dzingel finally earned some redemption, stepping off the bench on a line change, and wiring a one-timer off a Z Smith pass past Mrazek. Then with a minute left, Matt Duchene forced a turnover, Mrazek couldn’t handle a Mark Stone shot, and Duchene put in the rebound. The Sens pulled the goalie with a minute left down two, but couldn’t score one more. Sean Couturier tried hard to get an empty-netter in the dying seconds, but he wasn’t going to outpace Erik Karlsson in a one-on-one race for the puck. Final score: 5-3 for the Flyers.
- The McCormick-Shore-Gaborik line actually looked really good. They had 58% of the 5v5 shot attempts, and also looked good to my eyes, earning a lot of the Sens’ offensive zone pressure.
- Dzingel had several great chances to score, and I was glad to see him finally score near the end
- Thomas Chabot always looks so poised with the puck, and the powerplay looks a lot better with him out there