I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect an afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers to be one of the most entertaining Sens games in a long time. I don’t think anyone did.
If you are on #TeamTank, this game might have been a bit of a disappointment to you. The last minute comeback might have given you hope for a better draft pick, but of course we’ve established by now that the Sens like to crush our hopes and dreams.
If you don’t care about the results and are just watching because you want to see some entertaining hockey, or because you can’t look away even though hockey is slowly ruining your life, this game was a huge win. Barring the third period, it was a fun game.
If you’re still holding out hope for a miracle comeback and believe that this two-game winning streak will take the Sens right to the playoffs, then hello, Guy Boucher. I’m flattered that you’re reading this blog. Please DM me so I can help you out with player deployment.
The start of the game was depressingly familiar to anyone who has watched the Sens regularly this season. Boucher for some reason decided to start a collection of random people, many of whom I still suspect might be fans who won a competition to skate with the team for a game. Either that or they have some serious blackmail material on everyone in the organization.
The first few minutes were largely uneventful, with most of the play happening in the neutral zone and the rest of it happening along the boards. Things got slightly exciting around the four minute mark, when Mark Borowiecki got into a fight with Wayne Simmonds. At the same time, a Flyers player dove into the Ottawa bench. That was surprising, not because it doesn’t happen that often, but because it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to be on the Senators’ bench.
The Sens then ended up with a penalty for too many men on the ice, of course. Boucher put some of his worst players on the ice to start the kill, an offense I deem worthy of its own penalty. “Too many people who are definitely not NHL players on the ice,” maybe?
I shouldn’t joke, though, because to their credit, those random guys who definitely deserve to be professional hockey players did their job and killed off the penalty. Also, in their defense, they do seem to be some of the only players who actually care about winning. They certainly care more than I do.
After a few more minutes of play and a very scary looking chance for Jakub Voracek, Ryan Dzingel got called for hooking. Not only did the Sens manage to kill off that penalty, they very nearly scored a shorthanded goal when Zack Smith almost sprung Pageau on a breakaway.
The return to even strength brought with it an absolutely beautiful display of skill the likes of which Sens fans have not seen in a long time. Colin White dished the puck to Hoffman, who dangled around the Flyers defense and set up Duchene for the game’s first goal. The goal was nice not just because of the chemistry between Hoffman and Duchene, but also because it was Colin White’s first NHL point. See? Good things can still happen, even after we’ve hit rock bottom.
Derick Brassard soon doubled the Sens’ lead, jamming the puck in during a bit of a scramble in front of the Flyers’ net.
Ottawa was awarded a late powerplay, but only managed to get one shot on goal. It was a very good shot from Zack Smith, granted, but it was only one. The rest of the two minutes were spent standing around and passing along the boards.
The Sens ended the frame on a pretty good note, but of course, given the way this season has gone, hopes were not high heading into the second period of death.
Surprisingly, the second period wasn’t actually all that bad. Anderson had to make a big save right at the beginning, but the Sens looked much sharper and even got a few corsis in the opening minutes. Of course, they did follow up that stretch of good play with a defensive breakdown that lead to a goal from Sean Couturier.
The rest of the period was strangely... eventful? I think that might be a bit of a stretch, but things were actually happening, and in an Ottawa Senators game, that counts as “eventful.” The Sens’ forwards looked good, but so did the Flyers’. At least the fans weren’t falling asleep.
With seven minutes left in the second period, Ryan Dzingel capitalized on a turnover, went on a 2-on-1 with Chris Didomenico, and passed the puck to his linemate, who tapped it into the Philadelphia net to extend the lead to 3-1.
The Flyers responded with lots of pressure in the Senators’ zone, even drawing a penalty with two and a half minutes left, but failed to score. To add insult to injury, Duchene scored an absolutely awful goal with only 2.9 seconds left on the clock to make it 4-1 Ottawa. Unfortunately, the Flyers coach then challenged the goal and it was disallowed, since Duchene had been noticeably offside on the play. Clearly, Duchene does his best work when he’s awarded a little bit of creative freedom (aka the right to go offside whenever he wants), so it seems unfair that he’s being forced to adhere to silly rules like “offside.”
Now, if you are the type of fan who thinks the Sens still have a shot at making the playoffs, I would strongly suggest you skip the next few paragraphs so that you can forget about what happened in the third period. And then, like I said, DM me so that I can help you out with player deployment, Guy.
The third period was, to put it simply, a tire fire.
The Flyers came out determined to win, and the Sens... did not. The shots were 5-0 only three minutes into the frame, and at that point I’m not sure Ottawa had connected on a single pass. They might as well have driven a giant tank onto the ice to get the message across. Philadelphia continued to dominate for the rest of the period, and the Sens simply could not get anything going.
Incredibly, Ottawa managed to hold on to the 3-1 lead for a full 14 minutes, thanks in large part to their goaltender. The players flubbed passes, scrambled all over the ice, and blocked a whole lot of shots, but somehow, it worked.
I believe this is a very advanced strategy used by many NHL coaches called “sitting back and defending the lead.”
After 14 minutes of desperation hockey, Scott Laughton finally beat Craig Anderson to make the score 3-2 Flyers. Personally, my favourite part of that goal was watching two Philadelphia forwards wide open in front of the Ottawa net and not even having to watch the replay to know which defensemen were supposed to be covering them.
The Flyers took a timeout with less than a minute left in the game, and pulled their goalie for an extra push. With the seconds winding down, Nate Thompson iced the puck, giving the Flyers the perfect opportunity to even the score, which they did.
Guy, if you’re still reading this, please DM me. I’m serious. It’s urgent.
Overtime was eventful, and exciting, but solved nothing, and the game went to the shootout.
None of the first six shooters managed to score, even though Ottawa sent out Shootout Specialist Tom Pyatt as their third guy. Anderson turned away the next three Flyers skaters, and Didomenico and Brassard both failed to win it for the Sens. Finally, Mike Hoffman pulled off the move known as the Forsberg to win the game, prompting myself and many other fans to ask, “why was Hoffman the sixth shooter?”
Nevertheless, it was an exciting game, and it’s hard to be sad about a Sens win even if it does hurt the tank a little bit. I, for one, am very much looking forward to our epic race to 9th in the conference.
See you all tomorrow for the biggest sporting event of the weekend: the Ottawa Senators vs the Montreal Canadiens.
- Mike Hoffman and Matt Duchene looked great together. I’ve said this before, but it would be unimaginably dumb to get rid of Hoffman, especially now that he’s clicking with our newest centreman. Please don’t do this.
- Speaking of Duchene: he’s quietly overtaken Turris in goals since the trade.
- Ryan Dzingel looked great too, as always.
- Craig Anderson did some excellent work, especially in the third period, to keep the Sens in the game.