Ah, the new year. A time for reflection, for commitment to self-improvement that will ultimately be abandoned, for fresh starts. And, apparently, a time for spending over an hour standing outside the media room at the Canadian Tire Centre waiting to find out if you and your colleague will be allowed in, because the Sens’ email system isn’t working properly and everybody’s on vacation so nobody is sure if you’re actually allowed in the press box or not.
Spoiler alert: we were allowed in. Eventually.
I’m not sure the Sens started 2019 on the best foot, and I’m not even talking about the IT problems.
The new year looked pretty promising a few hours before the game. The Sens had finally taken a long, hard look at themselves and decided that getting rid of Tom Pyatt was something they really need to do if they were going to improve, seeing as the defensively and offensively challenged forward was one of their most prominent vices of 2018. Without him, they would finally turn things around. New Year, New Sens.
Or was it really?
Clearly some of their problems run just a little bit deeper than a single player.
Just a little bit.
The first period kicked off with a penalty to Mark Borowiecki, and a strangely good penalty kill that even resulted in a very good scoring chance for Mark Stone. Is it bad that my first thought was that the Canucks must have a truly awful powerplay if ours didn’t look too bad?
The rest of the period was mostly uneventful, at least for the Sens. Vancouver dominated pretty thoroughly, and Ottawa relied pretty heavily on goaltender Marcus Hogberg. On the bright side, their performance probably made Mike McKenna feel a lot better about leaving Ottawa.
At one point, near the halfway mark of the period, Cody Ceci surprised everyone by clearing the Sens’ net to prevent a certain goal and basically saving the entire team, then making a nice breakout pass. He reverted right back to his old ways pretty much immediately afterward, but it was a cool if very strange display of competence.
Ben Harpur got into a fight soon afterward, and both he and his opponent ended up in the box. Harpur actually left the game after that, but returned for the second period so clearly it wasn’t anything serious. Nothing of note happened until the last minute of the frame, when the Senators suddenly decided they wanted to do things and got a few good scoring chances. The score was tied at the end of the period, but the shots were 17 to 5 in favour of Vancouver, which, good god how do you even manage that? And against a team as bad as the Canucks, too?
Mark Stone had more than half the Sens’ shots at this point, with 3.
You know what I really appreciated about being in the press box tonight? No, not the hot dogs. Definitely not the hot dogs. It was actually the fact that about half of the Sens’ zone was blocked from my sight. It hadn’t really made a difference during the first period, because that area of the ice had been the offensive zone and the Sens avoid that place like the plague, but during the second period it was actually very nice because I didn’t have to watch my team’s defensive collapses.
And my goodness, there were so many of those.
Shots were 27-7 within a few minutes.
Sven Baertschi scored the first goal for Vancouver, about nine minutes into the frame, while Ryan Dzingel was still in the box for holding. The Sens responded immediately with a few nice chances, including one particularly impressive one from Matt Duchene, who also drew a tripping penalty on the play.
The Sens’ powerplay was very impressive right from the start, and soon Matt Duchene evened the score.
The remainder of the second period was much better than the first, with Ottawa actually breaking out of their own zone on occasion and actually looking like a bit of an offensive threat. Unfortunately, the Canucks did take back the lead before the buzzer sounded, with rookie sensation Elias Pettersson netting his 20th of the season.
But it was fine because the Sens looked okay and they were only down by one and honestly, that’s pretty much the best we could have wished for given the way they started the game!
It was during the second intermission that the World Juniors quarterfinal game involving Canada got interesting, and everyone around me completely forgot about the Sens. The other game was so exciting that the crowd actually boo’d when the intermission ended and the NHL teams took the nice.
Can’t say I blame them, though.
Anyways, nothing particularly interesting happened in this game until Canada lost the quarterfinal, naturally. Ben Harpur eventually took another penalty, and once again the Sens looked surprisingly good on the kill. Paajarvi even got a nice breakaway, though he didn’t manage to even the score.
The Canucks eventually took a 3-1 lead off Pettersson’s second of the night. Surprisingly, Ottawa responded by getting a bunch of scoring chances, and actually looking like a real NHL team.
Eventually, Boeser of the Canucks got a breakaway and Demelo slashed him, though the Sens’ defenseman was lucky to get a regular penalty instead of a penalty shot. The penalty kill didn’t look particularly good until Chris Tierney got a breakaway and almost scored. I guess bad penalty kills are something we’ve decided to leave in 2018? Please?
Wolanin brought the Sens within one on the powerplay, and right after that the home team hit the elusive milestone of 40 shots against! Do the fans win anything for that? I feel like they should. As an apology from the team. I would accept free egg rolls, personally.
The last five minutes or so were all Ottawa, to the point where it was extremely weird that Boucher didn’t pull the goalie. Hogberg was just standing there as his team cycled around in the Vancouver zone, getting scoring chance after scoring chance after scoring chance.
With just over a minute left, Hogberg finally went to the bench and Mark Stone evened the score to send the game into overtime. He also moved the Sens out of last place in the league! They truly are turning over a new leaf.
The Sens looked pretty good in OT, but unfortunately the winning goal was scored by Pettersson, who was showered in hats even at an away game.
- Christian Wolanin had a few good chances, including one in overtime
- Matt Duchene was on fire tonight
- Marcus Hogberg stood tall, and I think every one of his defensemen owes him at least one beer for making him face that many shots
- Harpur’s only major contributions to the game were his two penalties...
- Sens Killer award goes to Pettersson, of course