The trade deadline has come and gone, the sun has risen on a new day, and somehow, the Ottawa Senators still exist.
After the chaos of last weekend, this game was a reminder that it is still possible to get some joy out of watching Sens games. Not much, mind you, but some. On occasion, the numbness gives way to a chuckle of amusement as you see Jim O’Brien of all people back on the Sens’ bench, or a brief moment of happiness as you remember how lucky you are to have Erik Karlsson on your favourite team.
This game was a good one. It was entertaining. Some good things happened. And the Sens lost, which was less fun, but it was objectively a good thing given their current place in the standings. Really, what more can you ask for at this point in the season?
The start of the game was uncharacteristically eventful, with the Capitals dominating the first minute and the Sens dominating the next. Mark Stone came close to giving the Sens’ an early lead several times in his first shift, but the game remained tied at zero.
Only a few minutes in, Caps forward Tom Wilson took a run at Matt Duchene, and Mark Borowiecki stepped in to defend him. While I respect Boro’s loyalty to his teammates and willingness to defend them, it does worry me that he’s putting himself in danger like this. He’s still wearing a tinted visor from his last concussion, and I certainly hope the coaching staff isn’t asking him to do this kind of stuff so soon after coming back from a head injury.
Borowiecki and Wilson both got sent to the box for their fight, but the game continued at 5 on 5. A few minutes later, Max McCormick took a slashing penalty and the terrifying Caps powerplay went to work. John Carlson was especially dangerous on the man advantage, and Sens fans were reminded of how painful it might have been to hear the name “Carlson” repeated over and over again on the broadcast had the unimaginable happened before yesterday’s trade deadline.
The Sens and Caps traded chances during the next few minutes, with Claesson and Stone standing out for Ottawa. The Sens got a powerplay opportunity, but didn’t do much with it.
Right as the Ottawa powerplay expired, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a beautiful goal to open the scoring. The Sens’ defense on that play was lazy all around, but a lot of blame can be placed on Cody Ceci, who let Matt Niskanen get right around him and set up the play. The Caps made an impressive push right at the end of the frame, but Ottawa held on to keep the score 1-0.
The Capitals scored right off the opening faceoff for the second period. It was a nice change of pace from what we’ve grown accustomed to, which is the opposing team scoring right off the opening faceoff of the game. It’s nice to see the Sens mixing it up a little and delaying our misery, if only slightly.
The Sens soon found themselves with a two-man advantage for almost a full two minutes. This shouldn’t have provided much hope to anyone who watches this team regularly, and especially to anyone who has seen them at 5 on 3. Sure enough, Ottawa spent most of the minute and a half standing around. However, right before the second powerplay ended, Erik Karlsson sent a beautiful pass to Mike Hoffman, who sent a laser of a shot right past Philipp Grubauer. Jean-Gabriel Pageau also deserves a shoutout on that play for providing an excellent screen, even if he didn’t get an assist.
The two teams traded chances throughout the remainder of the period. Marian Gaborik came close to netting his third goal with his new team, but most importantly, Erik Karlsson made some great plays and his hair looked fantastic while he did it.
Ottawa got another two man advantage toward the end of the period, and this one was even less successful than the first. The players basically just stood around and passed a bit, to the surprise of no one. With one minute left, the Capitals made a push, and it payed off, as Kuznetsov scored his second of the night with only 11 seconds left (is that number a sign? Does it mean something? This trade deadline has made me superstitious). The goal was scored on a wraparound, and I was about to make an Anderson joke until I remembered that Condon was in net. I guess it’s an Ottawa thing?
Anyways, Ottawa went into the third down 3-1.
The best moment of the night happened when Erik Karlsson scored a beautiful goal from an impossible angle, to get his 500th NHL point. I think we’re all very happy that happened in a Sens uniform. A fight broke out immediately after the goal, and though Karlsson wasn’t that involved, we should ask the question: did he get a Gordie Howe hat trick? Because that would be pretty epic.
The Capitals regained control of the game after a penalty to Zack Smith, looking incredibly dangerous even after the powerplay expired. Toward the midway point, Mike Hoffman almost got a breakaway, but Matt Niskanen grabbed him from behind and prevented him from getting a shot away. It probably should have been a penalty shot, but the officials opted to send Niskanen to the box instead.
Of course, the Sens didn’t really do anything with the powerplay, so it wasn’t much use.
A few minutes later, Zack Smith took a stick to the face and the Sens got another equally unsuccessful powerplay. Not only did the Sens fail to generate any chances, Washington nearly extended their lead while shorthanded.
The last few minutes of the game were incredibly exciting and Ottawa came very close to evening the score on several different occasions, but ultimately couldn’t quite mount the comeback before the final buzzer sounded.
I guess that was the best case scenario. Highly entertaining, lots of fun, but the Sens still lost.
In other news, I think the Sens’ record in games I’ve recapped is something like 650-2-1. Feels like it anyway.
- Freddy Claesson made a few excellent plays.
- Erik Karlsson is an actual god and I am extremely happy that he is on my hockey team. He had a great game, and he looked fabulous the whole time.
- Mark Stone was on fire tonight.
- Matt Duchene, Mike Hoffman and Ryan Dzingel all had pretty good games too.