How the Sens came out of that game 2-1, it’s anyone’s guess.
Coming off a three game winning streak that saw the Senators score 15 goals in that span, they were limited to only one tonight. Ottawa was outpaced, outmatched, and ultimately outscored in their trip to Columbus on St. Patrick’s Day, falling to the Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1.
Ottawa managed to get on the board first, however, with a rare goal from the fourth line of Alex Burrows, Jim O’Brien and Max McCormick. It was exactly the type of goal you’d expect the fourth line to score — a point shot from the double-shifted star defenceman (Karlsson, of course), followed by some of pushing and shoving in front of the net and a lucky bounce to the forward with a wide open net. It doesn’t get any fourth-linier than that, as Alex Burrows scored his fifth of the season.
Jim O’Brien’s assist on the goal was his first NHL point in almost exactly five years — March 16th 2013 — an assist against the Buffalo Sabres. I have nothing against O’Brien personally, and he even had a decent game. Although it’s hard to see what he’s bringing to the lineup instead of someone like Filip Chlapik or Colin White — the former of which scored twice tonight for Belleville in their 4-3 win over Utica.
Columbus had clear control of the play throughout the game, overall getting more shots on goal (35-24) and more shot attempts (61-37 at 5v5). I’ll excuse the team slightly as they’re on the second half of a back-to-back, but there was very little semblance of offensive structure, with too many turnovers from pretty much everybody.
One of those turnovers proved costly late in the first, as Ben Harpur casually tried to pick up a bobbling puck going back into the defensive zone. Boone Jenner tracked him the entire way, and Harpur couldn’t get full control. Jenner took advantage with the pickpocket, and his top shelf shot beat Mike Condon to tie the game 1-1.
A notable aspect of this game was the lack of calls — overall the teams played clean hockey with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions, unsurprisingly, was Max McCormick, who recklessly ran over Sergei Bobrovsky. The Columbus goaltender and Vezina contender was rattled but okay, with McCormick sent to the box for roughing.
Markus Nutivaara scored on the ensuing power play with a shot from the point, which would eventually become the game-winning goal.
The third period was agonizing in probably the most boring sense. The motivation to win was invisible, and a Sens loss felt pretty inevitable save for the final few minutes with the goalie pulled. Columbus didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal, although there was a little optimism in seeing Mike Condon make some key stops.
In fact, here’s an interesting stat: the last game where an Ottawa goalie posted a save percentage below 90% was on March 2nd. In the eight games since then, which have been split evenly, Craig Anderson has a Sv% of 92.3%, and Condon with 93.1%. I’m getting heavy 2010-11 vibes.
The one notable moment from the final frame was when Ryan Dzingel was struck in the back of the head by a shot from Mike Hoffman. He didn’t return for the remaining ten minutes, although hopefully it was only for precautionary reasons. He looked pretty shaken, and fortunately his helmet saved him from any major cuts. With five points in five games heading into this matchup, losing Dzingel would mean one less key player out of the top six.
Final score: Blue Jackets 2, Senators 1
- Solid goaltending from Condon, who only allowed two goals despite the defence looking like they may have had a few too many Shamrock Shakes.
- I know I was harping on Jim O’Brien earlier, but this was still probably his best game of the season. His three shots on goal was the most on the Sens.
- Glancing over at the opponent, I was really impressed by Pierre-Luc Dubois. He may not be in the Calder race, but he’s still on pace for 43 points while playing heavy minutes in the top six.
- Sergei Bobrovsky was, well, Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s the reigning Vezina winner for a reason.
Ottawa has six home games remaining this season, and three of them are in next week’s homestand. It kicks off on Tuesday at 7:30, with a rematch against the Florida Panthers.