I don’t understand either, okay?
This was the strangest of games. When I sat down to watch this game, in the midst of a winter storm with my lights flickering ominously and my power cutting out every few minutes, I did not expect to witness an Ottawa Senators win. Who expects to witness an Ottawa Senators win in 2018? Those things do not happen very often.
You know what happens even less frequently? The Sens winning on a night when I’m writing the recap. I don’t know how to react. Should I be happy about this? Should I be upset that this team is ruining its draft position? How does one react to an Ottawa Senators win?
That’s the thing about cheering for a team this bad, you see. You can be sad no matter what happens. It is truly the most authentic sports fan experience.
Tampa Bay’s speed was on display right from the start of the game, and it came as no surprise when J.T. Miller opened the scoring just four minutes in. The Sens were caught flat-footed, Karlsson lost a few puck battles, and the Lightning were just too fast. It was a familiar, almost comforting sight. In this unpredictable world, it’s nice to know that we can always count on the Senators allowing the first goal in any given game.
Equally familiar was the way in which the Sens completely collapsed around their own net afterward, allowing the Lightning to walk right over them.
Shockingly, the Sens actually fought back. Pageau sent a nice pass to Pyatt, springing him on a breakaway, and Magnus Paajarvi tapped the puck into the net to even the score. The team looked much better after that, and soon a Sens power play gave Ryan Dzingel an opportunity to score his 20th goal of the season and give Ottawa the lead.
Now, I kid you not, at the very second that Ryan Dzingel’s shot went into the net, the power in my building shut off completely and I missed a solid five minutes of gameplay, including, apparently, a goal by Tom Pyatt, while I was sitting in the dark waiting for the wifi to start working again. I mention this because even though I am not a superstitious person, I feel like this may have been an omen of some sort. Did the very fabric of the universe tear when the Ottawa Senators took a lead over a much better team? Did this goal signal a reversal of the Sens’ fortunes? Will Erik Karlsson re-sign during the summer? Will Melnyk sell the team to Daniel Alfredsson? Or does it just mean that they’re going to play themselves out of a good draft pick? The timing was too perfect for me not to mention it.
Anyways, I returned just in time to see the Sens make a few good plays and generally look a lot better than they did at the start of the game. It was weird. Alex Burrows took a penalty with about a minute and a half left, but Tampa failed to score, and the Sens ended the period up 3-1.
Of course, one of the most important rules about the Ottawa Senators is that a good first period must always be followed by an awful second. Right as the Burrows penalty expired, Paajarvi took a very obvious tripping penalty, and the Lightning cut the Sens’ lead in half on the ensuing powerplay. A few minutes later, it was Ottawa’s turn with the man advantage, and Marian Gaborik of all people scored his first goal since his season debut. Cool, I guess?
Nobody understands what’s happening.
Tampa Bay continued to dominate play afterward, even though the score was fairly lopsided in favour of Ottawa. With just over 6 minutes left, Mike Hoffman made it 5-2 with a beautiful shot off a rebound. It was also his 20th goal of the season. I guess it’s nice to see him and Dzingel pad their stats even if the games are meaningless? Cheering for a bottom feeder is weird.
Also, Erik Burgdoerfer got his first NHL point on the play, and I don’t want to go into more conspiracy theories here but this guy’s first name is “Erik” and his last name kind of sounds like “Burger” and we all know this team’s history with hamburgers.
I’m just saying. There’s something weird about this game.
Almost immediately after the Hoffman goal, the Lightning got a 2 man advantage and J.T. Miller scored his third goal of the night, for his first career hat trick. There’s another constant of Sens hockey: handing out career milestones!
Even in a game as strange as this one, they still found ways to make us feel at home. I appreciate that.
The Lightning continued to dominate play for the next two minutes, until Erik Karlsson got the puck, tried to pass it to a teammate in the offensive zone, and ended up bouncing it off Chris Kunitz’s skate and straight into the Tampa Bay net. Is Chris Kunitz on a one-man mission to deny us nice things? Gotta ask the question.
Somehow, Ottawa ended that awful period up 6-3.
The Sens started the third period on a relatively good note, controlling the play a lot more than they did in the first and second. Hoffman made the score 7-3 less than four minutes in off a slightly flukey goal. It was the Sens’ highest goal total all season, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Karlsson also got an assist on the goal, moving him up to 2nd in scoring among defensemen, only 3 points behind John Klingberg.
The play was mostly even for the rest of the game, with Tampa of course looking much faster and better all-around. With about 7 minutes left, Ryan McDonagh scored his first goal as a member of the Lightning, but of course it was not enough to spark a comeback. Actually, I don’t know why I said “of course” there, because I would not have been at all surprised if the Sens had found a way to lose this game. I truly feel like anything could have happened.
- Hoffman and Dzingel both hit the 20 goal milestone tonight
- Karlsson looked like his old self
- Duchene and Ceci each got 2 assists