Going into Vegas tonight to face the Golden Knights, a few questions faced the Ottawa Senators: Would they allow a tonne of shots to quite possibly the best team in the league? Would they still manage to make it a close game? Would Mark Stone earn his first point against his former team? Would DJ Smith learn to tie an appropriately wide tie knot? The answers were yes, yes, yes, and no, respectively.
The first period saw a lot of offence, with the shots 16-13 for Vegas, and the goals 2-1, also for Vegas. Reilly Smith opened the scoring, but Thomas Chabot got answered with his first of the season just a minute later. Nick Holden also scored off the stick of Brady Tkachuk, and on that goal the inevitable happened: Mark Stone earned his first point against his former team.
The second period saw no scoring, but lots of chances for both teams, with the shots this time 16-12 for Vegas.
Somehow the number shots went even higher in the third, 20-10 for Vegas, but the only goal came off the stick of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, which sent the game to overtime. The Sens probably should’ve won in OT, but Marc-Andre Fleury turned in some highlight reel saves, and the shootout was on. It took five shooters per side, but after Tkachuk missed his first career shootout attempt, Jonathan Marchessault succeeded in earning the victory for Vegas.
Thoughts (it’s too late for puns, sorry, plus it’s really Brandon’s thing):
- The Sens powerplay is about as good as it can look without scoring a goal. They’re 0-for-21 on the year, but that can’t last much longer they way they’re playing.
- I feel like we saw the good and bad of Thomas Chabot tonight. He’s elusive with the puck, and tenacious at keeping the puck in the opposing zone. However, he also seemed to just blindly pass the puck to nobody a few times, several times after just pulling a dazzling move to throw off his forechecker. He also played 3:57 of overtime though, and didn’t look tired at all doing it, so that’s worth a big shoutout.
- Anders Nilsson was stellar tonight, making 52 saves. Hard to ask for much more than that from your goalie. I’m beginning to think that high number of shots against has less to do with coaching, and more to do with personnel.
- Fleury was also no slouch in goal, standing tall when necessary. I wonder if Penguins fans wish they hadn’t let him go, seeing how he hasn’t missed a step despite the fact that he turns 35 in a month.
- With a young team like this, the strategy seems to be play high-flying offence and hope the bounces go your way. They were a little outplayed tonight, but 40 shots for is nothing to scoff at. It’ll be hard on your goalies, but it’ll also be fun to watch as a fan who’s not too invested in the results.
- Nick Paul got a bit of a chance tonight, playing 11:15, which was just below Bobby Ryan’s 12:05 (and four minutes of Ryan’s time was on the powerplay!) Paul also played more than half of the last two minutes of play, showing he may have earned some trust from his coach. To my eyes, he played very well, and deserves a shot to stick on the fourth line.
(keep in mind there’s been some problems with the NHL shot tracking this season, so this might be a little off)