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Ottawa Senators Start Hot, But Fall to Defending Champs

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They put up a good fight, but the Senators fall to 0-3.

NHL: OCT 10 Blues at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues are the Stanley Cup Champions for a bevy of reasons, one of them being resilience. They had more than one come-from-behind victory in the 2019 playoffs, so when they fell behind 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators early, they had to feel like it was well in hand.

The two teams traded goals to the very end, but ultimately, it was the Blues that would come away with a 6-4 victory. Ryan O’Reilly led the charge for the Blues offensively, tallying a goal and three assists, while David Perron found the back of the net twice. Despite the rough start, backup netminder Jake Allen made some critical saves, stopping 25/29 Ottawa shots to secure his team the win.

For the Senators, it was a night of firsts. Vitaly Abramov opened the scoring in his first contest of the season, notching his first NHL goal after an Allen gaffe left him with a wide-open net.

Artem Anisimov would add his first goal as a Senator, on which Vladislav Namestnikov got his first Senator point.

The Blues, however, turned it on in the second period. Two goals in less than three minutes saw the game tied 2-2, but Chris Tierney gave Ottawa the lead again with a nice shorthanded marker.

But again, the beginning of a period was the Senators’ undoing. Jay Boumeester scored on a point shot while, Anders Nilsson was screened, less than two minutes into the frame. Brayden Schenn would give the Blues their first lead of the game at 12:47, making it 4-3, but Anthony Duclair tied it with his first of the season, less than two minutes later. Erik Brannstrom recorded an assist on the play, earning him his first career point.

Alas, twas not to be. Nilsson gave up a soft one for Perron’s second of the game 42 seconds later, and O’Reilly would add the empty-netter to seal the game 6-4.

Ultimately, it was a good effort for a young team that made some young team mistakes. Especially when you consider the Blues had four powerplays, and the Sens had none.

Five Things We Learned:

1: Vitaly Abramov is a player:

The youngster notched his first goal in his first look of the young season, and didn’t look out of place at all. Even though he was on a line with J.G. Pageau and Scott Sabourin, who aren’t exactly offensive playdrivers, he looked solid in both ends of the ice. Despite taking a bad penalty in the second period, and only playing 8:17mins, Abramov look good in his debut.

2: Brady Tkachuk has improved immensely:

Our beautiful boy was held off the scoresheet tonight, but he had and created plenty of chances in the St. Louis end. Tkachuk looks like he has an extra spring in his step this season, as he’s noticeably faster, and is creating quality scoring chances, rather than simply cashing in rebounds on the doorstep. The best part is, he’s only going to get better with time.

3: The Sens might not get a call all season:

I mean, really? Four penalty kills, no powerplays? Obviously this is just my humble opinion, but the officiating has looked wonky against the Sens through the first three games of the year. There was plenty a sweetheart call in favour of the Leafs in the opener, and a couple in the Rangers game as well. I’m not pointing to some vast anti-Ottawa conspiracy or anything, it’s just been a little puzzling so far.

4: We still don’t have a clear-cut starting goaltender:

Don’t get me wrong, winning goal aside, Anders Nilsson didn’t have a bad game by any means. Four penalty kills didn’t do him any favours, and he made some big saves, but the Senators still don’t have a goaltender that is going to steal games for them. I love Nilly, but it definitely doesn’t appear that he’s the goalie of the future. Any time you score four goals, you need to get the win.

5: Chris Tierney is still an enigma:

D.J. Smith said in his postgame scrum that he thought Chris Tierney was the Senators’ all-around best player tonight. Honestly, I’m inclined to agree, and that’s kind of weird for me to say. I still have no idea what Tierney is. Some games he looks like a legit second-line centre. Others, he’s completely invisible. With Ottawa likely to move one, or both, of him and Pageau, it will be interesting to monitor both of their individual performances from here on out.

Game Flow:

The first period belonged firmly to the Senators, but the tide started to turn in St. Louis’ favour after the opening frame. They remained in the driver’s seat until Ottawa’s last gasp to to tie the game.

Heatmap:

The metrics here are actually strangely similar, with both teams scoring from both the mouth of the goal, and the perimeter. Ideally, the Sens need to get more opportunities closer to the goal in order to win games, but it’s hard to argue with four goals.

Up Next:

Buckle up, and get ready to ride the Lightning. The Senators host Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon, at 4pmET. The Bolts are coming off of a 7-3 drubbing of the Toronto Maple Leafs.