It’s been a turnaround week for the Ottawa Senators. Following a tough losing streak that saw the team in dead last for a short period, they had won four of their last five, including a 4-1 win over Carolina the previous night.
On the second half of a back-to-back, however, the Sens were more tired than normal. Their opponents in St. Louis are also middling in the the bottom of the league standings, as both these teams could look significantly different in a month’s time. Pre-game roster decisions were in Ottawa’s favour, with goaltender Craig Anderson returning from injury and David Perron out of St. Louis’ lineup, in the middle of his 13-game point streak.
Ultimately the Sens didn’t come out with their greatest performance, with their defensive weaknesses being exposed en route to a 3-2 loss to the Blues.
The Sens were given an early power play but couldn’t make anything of it. They still managed to get on the board first, with Nick Paul scoring his first of the season. Mikkel Boedker retrieved the puck along the back boards after the Blues couldn’t control it, and he fed it to Paul in front for the one-timer. The goal must’ve been a relief for Paul, who has found himself on the fringe of Ottawa’s forward lineup since being called up in December. And while he may be infamously streaky in his scoring, he’s certainly done enough to earn himself a full-time spot.
St. Louis evened the score shortly afterwards, with Vladimir Tarasenko using his lethal shot right off the faceoff. It was quite the ‘welcome back’ moment for Anderson, who was playing in his first game since missing the last eleven with an injury. But when an elite shooter is given space in the middle, there’s not really much more he could’ve done to stop it.
The Blues dominated play for the rest of the first period, reminding us all why the Sens are in the league’s basement to begin with. Normally their collapse doesn’t come until later in the game, although the Sens decided to take the brunt force early in this one.
The second period was much less eventful, with the best chance going to Blues rookie Jordan Kyrou, stopped in tight by Anderson. St. Louis would get one on the board before the buzzer, however, with Vince Dunn blasting a slop shot in the top corner. Like the first goal by Tarasenko, the shot was so pin-point accurate that no goalie would’ve stood a chance. Mix that in with some thorough screening, and the Blues were up 2-1.
Christian Jaros took a tripping penalty with less than a minute until second intermission, giving St. Louis a power play heading into the third period.
This was also the second game of the Sens’ fathers trip, with the players’ dads joining the team on their road trip this weekend. Among them was former Blues legend Keith Tkachuk, son of Brady, who also happens to work as an amateur scout for the Blues. And given the amount of rookies on either team, this game wasn’t all that different from his typical job.
Another dad at the game was Gunnar Svensson, father of former Blues player-turned-Senator Magnus Paajarvi. He was present the previous game to watch Paajarvi break his goal drought, and he was also present in this game to watch #56 get a goal in his second straight game (Paajarvi’s jersey number is taken from his fathers’ birth year). With the Sens still shorthanded from Jaros’ penalty, Zack Smith ended up with the puck in St. Louis’ offensive zone. He threw the puck towards the net, and the puck deflected off Paajarvi’s skate and past Jordan Binnington.
With the shot clock quickly falling further out of control in the Blues favour, and the regular clock ticking down, it was pretty clear that the Sens were just trying to hang in. St. Louis just had to press on the gas pedal a bit harder to get the go-ahead goal, this time off the stick of Carl Gunnarsson. This one was significantly less clean than the Blues’ last two. Anderson had his glove covering the puck beside the net, although it was poked away before a whistle was blown. A couple quick passes later, and it was in the back of Ottawa’s net, with Anderson and Boucher questioning why play hadn’t been stopped. Unfortunately it’s not the type of play that can be challenged, as the goal stood even after the Sens challenged for goalie interference.
A late push with the extra attacker wasn’t enough for Ottawa, as they lost by a final score of 3-2.
- No fault for Anderson in this one, as he appeared to be in regular form returning from his concussion. The Sens’ defence didn’t provide him much of a warm welcome.
- Even though they didn’t get on the scoreboard, all the top forwards seemed to step up and give Andy a break with the puck at the other end. This includes Stone, Tkachuk and Duchene.
- Shoutout to the dads just for being awesome. Really love that every team does this type of trip each year for the parents.
The Sens return home on Tuesday to face the Arizona Coyotes.