In a game that they probably didn’t deserve to win, the Ottawa Senators finally got off the schneid.
Recovering from two abysmal periods of hockey, the Sens came roaring back in the third. Tying the game and sending it to overtime, where Mark Stone made a fantastic end-to-end rush, and found Colin White for his first career overtime winner, downing the Anaheim Ducks 2-1.
Anders Nilsson was phenomenal, and easily Ottawa’s best player. The big Swedish netminder stopped 32 of 33, and notched his first win as a Senator, and his first since October 16th, 2018.
The game began with a good pace for the first few minutes. Both teams went up and down the ice, playing with speed and trying to gain chances through the perimeter.
Things got a little choppy from there, and Ottawa had the first good scoring chance of the contest. The puck took a funny bounce off the boards to the right of John Gibson, and ended up in front of the goal. Mark Stone had a wide open net, with Gibson sprawling to make a desperation save, but couldn’t corral the puck and the game stayed scoreless.
Then, at 8:52 of the first, Ducks defenceman Brandon Montour took a pass from Andrew Cogliano, and streaked into the Senators’ zone. Montour made a drop pass, like the ones the Sens consistently fail to make, to former Senator Jakob Silfverberg, who fired a quick slapshot that deflected off Ben Harpur’s stick and in to open the scoring.
This is the second consecutive game that Mark Stone made a poor defensive play that led to a goal, as Montour skated right around him in the Anaheim end to create the odd-man rush. Though Harpur needs to make a better play there.
Right off the ensuing face-off, the Sens almost got it back. Mark Borowiecki made a nice play to skate the puck into the Anaheim zone, and snapped a quick shot far side, but Gibson made a huge save to keep Anaheim in the driver’s seat.
The rest of the period wasn’t great for Ottawa. They stayed ahead on the shot clock, but failed to make many real threatening chances in the Ducks’ zone. The best came shorthanded, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau made a great play to get the puck to Chris Tierney at the side of the goal, but he couldn’t quite jam it past Gibson.
The first period came to an end with Ottawa up 7-5 in shots on goal, but the Ducks holding a 1-0 lead.
The second period started off looking like Ottawa was going to get that goal back. Zack Smith had a breakaway in the opening minutes, but couldn’t get a solid shot off and was denied by Gibson.
After that, momentum swung Anaheim’s way.
The Sens couldn’t generate any sustained puck possession, and the Ducks had them hemmed in their own end for most of the frame. Anders Nilsson was forced to make a big save about eight minutes in, as his quick reaction made turned away Nick Ritchie’s doorstep deflection.
Anaheim kept peppering the Senators with shots, and Nilsson was forced to make save after save, especially on Dylan DeMelo’s second penalty of the period. The Ducks sustained a dangerous powerplay with great puck movement and plenty of chances, but the Sens newest goaltender stood tall.
Ottawa had their best chances to tie it in the last minute of the frame, when both Smith and Cody Ceci were both stoned point blank by Gibson.
Not to be outdone, Anders Nilsson made a phenomenal save just seconds later. Flat on his back, with three Ducks at the lip of the crease trying to bat the puck home, Nilsson flashed his glove hand and pulled the sliding puck off the goal line, keeping the Senators’ deficit at 1-0 going into the third,
To this point, the Ducks were outshooting Ottawa 23-18, and outchancing them 49-34.
The Senators finally woke up in the third.
Right off the bat, John Gibson almost made a critical error, as his pass to the front of the net landed directly on the stick of Mark Stone, who tapped the puck just wide of yawning cage.
That sparked almost ten minutes of nothing but low-percentage chances for the Senators, before they finally broke through.
Off a draw in the Anaheim end, Dylan DeMelo drove to the front of the net. He couldn’t get a shot to the goal, but Bobby Ryan was able to scoop up the loose puck, and beat his old team to tie the game at 1-1.
Make that a five-game point streak for BFR, whose name over the PA was greeted with boo’s by all 12 fans in Anaheim.
The Sens came to life after that goal. Gibson was forced to make a big save on a chance by Maxime Lajoie, and an Andrew Cogliano break the other way was turned aside by Anders Nilsson.
Near the 12 minute mark of the period, Magnus Paajarvi almost broke the tie with a breakaway opportunity, but Gibson denied him. Ottawa was able to corral the puck and sustain pressure, and Gibson had to make two more solid stops on Paajarvi before finally covering up for the whistle.
The rough period continued for the Anaheim goaltender. A little over a minute later, a high and heavy shot from Cody Ceci left Gibson visibly shaken up. Though he shook it off fairly quickly. Ryan Dzingel had a phenomenal opportunity at the side of the net not long after, but Gibson flashed the left pad to keep the game tied.
With time winding down in the third, an errant pass was picked off by Silfverberg, who streaked into the high slot and fired a quick shot on goal, but Nilsson wasn’t fooled and denied him his second of the night.
Anaheim had a glorious chance to break the tie with 1:07 to go in regulation, when Ceci turned the puck over behind the net. Nick Ritchie made a beautiful centring pass to Ondřej Kaše, but Nilsson slid across to make yet another sensational pad save, and the game would go to overtime.
In the extra frame, Mark Stone recovered the puck after an uncharacteristic turnover. Stone flew down the ice with surprising speed, creating a 2-on-1 opportunity. He slid the puck across to Colin White, and the rookie was able to beat Gibson and finally snap the eight-game losing skid.
The relief was visible in the faces and body language of the Senators. A California road trip after losing eight in a row, without three of their top players is a daunting task, and winning the first of three in Cali is huge.
Ottawa will look to transition the losing streak to a winning streak tomorrow night, when they take on the Los Angeles Kings, with whom the Sens are tied for last place in the NHL.
- This was Anders Nilsson’s best game as a Senator. He settled in nicely after the Silfverberg goal, and looked like a world-beater between the pipes. He stole this one for the Sens.
- Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel were both nearly invisible until the third period, but after that they started playing more like themselves. They created a ton of chances in the last two periods of the game, and Ottawa definitely would not have won otherwise.
- Jean-Gabriel Pageau quietly had a solid game. He was held off the scoresheet, but played a responsible game defensively, and won an astounding 14 of 18 face-offs. The Senators missed his reliability in both ends.
- Ben Harpur should not have played over Christian Wolanin tonight. Period.
- Nick Paul and Rudolfs Balcers were the only Senators not to hit double-digits in TOI tonight, playing 7:38 and 6:45, respectively. I don’t get it, personally. Paul had a nice game when he was out there, and Zack Smith did not play nearly well enough to justify 17:34mins.