It was a night in which the Senators probably deserved to win, but at this point, wins feel hollow. Every loss is a chance at a better draft pick, putting the Sens level with the Canucks and Coyotes in points and games. The Islanders showed exactly what they were known for in this game: offensive ability, and a non-committal to playing defence. In the end, it was enough for them to earn a 4-3 win.
The game opened with some good offensive zone pressure by the Matt Duchene line, but twice it was interrupted by a linesman getting the puck caught in his feet. Max McCormick would earn Ottawa their first powerplay of the game with a great move to force Brock Nelson into an offensive-zone hooking penalty, but naturally, the Sens couldn’t convert. Zack Smith would then return the penalty-taking favour, and the Isles would score. Mike Condon stopped John Tavares’s one-timer, but Anders Lee on the doorstep potted it home. It was Lee’s 39th goal of the season, which is about 22 more than I would’ve guessed he had.
However, on Ottawa’s next powerplay, they’d actually score. Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s shot from the slot deflected off Matt Duchene’s shinpad in front and beat Jaroslav Halak high. At first it wasn’t clear it had hit Duchene, so I was excited for an Erik Karlsson point. Mercifully, Karl got a goal just moments later when he and Duchene raced in on a 2-on-1. The give-and-go fooled Halak, giving Ottawa a lead they’d keep til the intermission, despite being outshot 15-8.
Mike Condon definitely didn’t eat his Wheaties or something in the intermission, because he came out far less sharp. Anthony Beauvillier scored on a pretty weak chance in front that Condon just didn’t seem ready for. He lost track of the puck at least three other times, but thankfully the Isles didn’t manage any other shots in the first 13 minutes of the period. After falling behind 8-2 in shots in the first, the Sens raced out to an 8-1 lead in the second.
It looked like despite a solid period from the Sens, they were headed into the second intermission tied. But it was not to be, with Brock Nelson coming on a harmless counter-attack and beating Condon clean. Even some late last-minute pressure from the Sens couldn’t tie it up, with the change in nets benefiting Halak greatly.
I couldn’t figure out what the highlight of the first 10 minutes of the third period was, but it was either Mike Hoffman getting his sixth shot on goal, or this person with a Sens banana costume:
Finally, the Isles missed on a couple good chances and the Sens got a lacklustre powerplay. When it looked like it was all going down with a whimper, Brandon Davidson continued a night he’d like to forget by tipping a Bobby Ryan pass five-hold on his own goalie. It was Ryan’s third goal in as many games, and one he definitely knew was fluky. The Isles almost got one back right away, but Tavares’s shot squeaked through Condon and rested behind him in the crease for a couple seconds before he noticed and covered.
But then when it looked like the Sens might have a hope, some great offensive zone pressure by Mathew Barzal, followed up by Andrew Ladd going to the front of the net to get the tip sealed it. The Sens would get some offensive zone pressure with the net empty, but they couldn’t solve Halak, and ended up falling 4-3.
- Matt Duchene was the standout Senator to me, even though Ryan had the most points. Duchene is just really, really good at hockey.
- Erik Karlsson was also making things happen out there. His highlight though was when he disrupted Jamie McLennan by slamming the bench door after Nelson’s goal, and then went over to apologize and checking on him afterward.
- Mike Hoffman tied his career-high with 8 shots on goal.
- Barzal and Tavares are really good. I really, really hope Tavares goes West this summer so we only have to see him twice per year.