I know I’m supposed to be on #TeamTank, but the Ottawa Senators deserved both points tonight with their effort. Unlike the previous two contests against Florida and Tampa, the Senators didn’t score their way to victory tonight. No, they channeled their 2016-17 selves and played a complete, 60+ minute game — a rarity this season.
It was an even game for pretty much the entire night, with the lone exceptions being the first 10-minutes of the first where the Sens were unable to generate much on goal towards Ben Bishop, and the opposite being the case for the Stars in the third period.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Stars struck first, with Tyler Seguin potting his 38th goal of the season less than 10 seconds into a powerplay after receiving a pass from Jamie Benn down low. The penalty, a slash by Thomas Chabot on Antoine Roussell, was soft in comparison to what should’ve been called that period.
Mark Borowiecki, who had a rough n’ tumble kind of night, should’ve drawn an instigator penalty on Greg Pateryn after the bumbling blueliner came to the defence of Tyler Pitlick. Borowiecki’s been trying to keep his fights down recently after an early season concussion forced him to miss a chunk of time, and laid one of his patented open-ice hits on Pitlick after sneaking down the left boards in the offensive zone. Both blueliners got five minutes for fighting.
Put together with a missed grab on Bobby Ryan, a hook on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and a dangerous trip on an icing play — the Senators could’ve had four extra minors in the period. The Stars did eventually take a penalty, a holding call on Mattias Janmark drawn by Mike Hoffman, but the resulting powerplay probably only frustrated the Senators more. Not because it didn’t look good — it was excellent — but because they hit three (!) posts on it. Hoffman and Karlsson on the right side, Marian Gaborik on the left. As we’d soon come to find out, all three players ended up getting some form of revenge on the Stars tonight. Overall, the period ended with Dallas up by one on the scoreboard, and in shot attempts (20-19).
The second period featured no goals, but a fair amount of physical play. Marc Methot got a video tribute on the scoreboard, and an Erik Karlsson tribute on the ice after the captain unleashed a sneaky hip check on Jamie Benn. Mark Borowiecki also left for part of the period after taking a reverse-hit from Alexander Radulov. It looked clean, with part of Radulov’s shoulder catching Borowiecki’s upper body, but the surprise likely caught Boro off guard and sent him to the ice looking dazed.
John Klingberg, the defenceman scoring leader, was quiet tonight outside of generating the best Stars chance of the period; one where he jumped into the play and hit a post (serves you right!). The Senators quickly responded with a post of their own after Jean-Gabriel Pageau took a nice drop pass from Bobby Ryan through the neutral zone and fired one cross-body past Bishop.
Overall, though, the Senators had the edge in play. They drew another penalty after Hamhuis clipped Karlsson, generated a couple of powerplay chances (Karlsson giving Gaborik two looks with clever seam passes), and carried play at the end of the period. In particular, Ryan Dzingel had a notable shift after the powerplay expired where he circled around the Stars zone like Gustav Nyquist was playing Ottawa; Zack Smith and Tom Pyatt also generated a chance after some great board work led Smith to power to the net for a chance on Bishop.
The third started with the Sens on a four-minute powerplay carrying over from the second thanks to a Tyler Pitlick high-stick that caught Ben Harpur up high. After the first unit struggled to start the period, a beautiful play by Thomas Chabot on the blueline led to the Senators first goal. Rushed by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, likely smelling shorthanded goal, Chabot managed to get the puck over to Ryan Dzingel while falling. Dzingel, a dangerous shooter in his own right, buys some space for himself with a fake-shot and instead passes it over to Marian Gaborik, who one-times it past Bishop to knot the game at one.
The rest of the third featured some uneven play, but was mainly in the Stars end. The duo of Chabot and Karlsson (who should DEFINITELY be together for the next eight years... please) looked dynamite, with Karlsson nearly scoring from a point shot and Chabot nearly setting up Matt Duchene for an in-tight opportunity. Bobby Ryan, searching out point #500 for his career, nearly had it on a pretty goal after dancing wide on Dan Hamhuis, but was poke-checked by Bishop’s active stick before he could generate a shot attempt.
The Stars, currently holding on to the second wild-card in the West for dear life, got their first shot of the third period with four minutes left (!), but Craig Anderson was there to stop Hamhuis, and then Janmark in the slot. From here, the period got intense, and the two teams started to trade chances.
This time, the Senators struck first. After Matt Duchene missed an opportunity from Mike Hoffman by skating too fast through the netural zone, the Senators reconvene at the top of the offensive zone. Hoffman gets the puck from Chabot, and tries to pass it through the seam to Karlsson but has it go off a couple sticks. Karlsson reacts quickly though, and is able to receive the puck and throw it on net where Duchene is waiting. Duchene corrals the puck and patiently pots it high, short-side, on Bishop to take the lead with three minutes remaining.
The Stars respond a minute later. After Anderson made a great stop on a Hamhuis shot that was tipped by Tyler Pitlick, the ex-Oiler is able to grab his own rebound and slide it by Anderson to tie the game at two.
Regulation time ends with shots even at 23 a piece, and the Stars with the slight edge in shot attempts, 50-48.
In overtime, the teams start with Benn - Seguin - Klingberg and Hoffman - Duchene - Karlsson. Both teams trade chances, with Karlsson nearly connecting for Ottawa and Mattias Janmark (on the next shift) almost stuffing the puck past Anderson. Later on, with the same Sens trio on the ice, Karlsson gains the zone and dishes the puck to Duchene while driving the net. Although Duchene doesn’t like what he sees initially, he circles back and softly backhands the puck to Hoffman for the one-timer, who slaps it past Bishop for the game-winner.
Overall, it was a positive, complete effort by the Senators. The line of Hoffman - Duchene - Dzingel continued to be the team’s best, with Pageau and Ryan generating supplementary chances. Erik Karlsson picked up another two points and continued to close the gap between him and Klingberg for the scoring lead amongst defencemen. Finally, Craig Anderson was as calm as I’ve seen him all season, stopped 23 shots — including a number of dangerous opportunities — and guided the Sens to victory.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick
Heat Map via Natural Stat Trick