Coming into tonight’s game, the Ottawa Senators had done a magnificent job of tanking by losing six straight. Or they had done a terrible job, depending on your perspective. The Florida Panthers had been playing excellent hockey for a while now, although they were on the second half of a back to back on the road.
The Senators had also defeated the Panthers just two and a half weeks earlier, so this game was far from a sure-thing from Florida’s perspective.
The first period was a quiet start to the game, as there were no penalties called and no goals from either side. It wasn’t without action though, as Jean-Gabriel Pageau was inches away from getting the first goal after a nifty pass from Fredrik Claesson. The refs did review the play, but it clearly didn’t cross the line.
Pageau almost breaks the deadlock. Score remains 0-0: pic.twitter.com/FSzXeQXf36— The Rat Trick (@FanSidedTheRat) March 30, 2018
The second period would quickly see Pageau make up for his near goal earlier in the game, as less than two minutes in, he put the Senators up 1-0. After Tom Pyatt was denied point blank, chaos ensued around the net, as James Reimer was caught out of position with the puck behind the net. In an extremely rare scenario where a wrap-around actually works, Pageau was able to take advantage of an open net:
By looking at the shot numbers for this period, you’d think that Ottawa would’ve finished the period at least up by one. The shot attempts were 20-9 for Ottawa, yet immediately after they took the lead, Florida answered right back with two of their own.
On the first power play of the game, Aaron Ekblad took advantage of a screened Craig Anderson to tie the game. He couldn’t even react on the play, as Magnus Paajaravi was battling in front, and the penalty kill was a bit of a mess leading up to the goal.
Then just 1:31 later, Evgeny Dadonov made the Senators look silly. For some odd reason, with the Panthers coming down through the neutral zone, Dadonov was left completely untouched in the middle of the ice, despite the fact that he was heading into the most dangerous area on the ice. MacKenzie Weegar didn’t have to do much to find Dadonov, and he wired it past Anderson to easily make it 2-1.
After two periods, it was 2-1 Florida. Coming into this game, the Panthers had the best record in the league when leading after two periods, so clearly the Senators had their work cut out for them. And with the way they had been playing of late, I wasn’t expecting much.
However, Paajarvi wanted to make that stat irrelevant, as just 16 seconds into the final frame, he tipped home a slap-pass from Zack Smith to tie the game.
The rest of regulation featured some back-and-forth between the teams, and each took a slashing penalty that neither team took advantage of. In the dying seconds, Florida had a 2-on-1 and almost scored a buzzer beater, but Anderson was there to send this game to overtime.
Overtime was incredible as it usually is. Guy Boucher was actually sending out his best players, and there was no break in the action. Florida had a few chances of their own, and it felt like Dadonov was going to win the game at any moment. With it looking like it might end in a shootout, Pageau came rushing down the ice and got tripped up right near the crease, so he was awarded a penalty shot.
And in classic clutch (or un-clutch if you wanted a loss) Pageau fashion, he went five-hole to give the Senators the win.
With the win, Ottawa snaps their six-game losing streak, but they’re also in danger of passing teams like Arizona and Vancouver. It was a devastating blow to the Panthers playoff chances, but also to Senators fans who are on Team Tank.
- Pageau scored two goals (including the game winner of course) and almost had two more. With 8 shot attempts total, he deserves a lot of praise for his effort.
- Paajarvi tied the game, but he also had a 68.18 CF% in 13:34 of ice time. It seems he’s moving towards possibly staying for next season.
- Filip Chlapik played only 7:39 tonight. At least Colin White played a lot with 15:12 of TOI, but I’m not sure why all rookies aren’t getting lots of opportunities at this point in the season.
- It’s rare to see Anderson play well these days, but he stopped 24/26 shots, and one of them he couldn’t even see. Good night from him overall, although he almost literally gave the game away due to his poor puck-handling skills.
Ottawa’s next game comes on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings on the road at 2pm EST. A win would put them two points back with a game in hand, so go Red Wings!