Even if i didn’t enjoy the country music part, I love me some Hog time.
The first ten minutes of period one had everything we’ve come to expect from the Senators this season. Ottawa couldn’t establish any consistent pressure in Nashville’s end and had to back-check often. However, the Sens limited quality chances for the Preds and both teams kept opposing offences to the perimeters. Marcus Hogberg stayed busy without having to make any highlight-reel saves early on.
Nashville stayed patient though and eventually capitalized as Craig Smith made Ottawa’s D look pretty bad on the first goal of the game. With Erik Brannstrom jumping up on the play, Mark Borowiecki was the first skater back and everyone seemed to get mixed up on their assignments leaving Smith undefended as the chipped one over Hogberg’s shoulder.
As the period progressed, Hoggy had to work a little bit harder and did everything in his power to keep the deficit at one as Nashville continued to find seams in Ottawa’s defence and the Preds had several more looks from in close. By the time Ottawa finally found themselves back in Nashville’s end, the Predators had piled on 16 shots with some high quality attempts mixed in.
As the Senators’ offence worked at balancing out the shot count, their already-depleted defence took another blow as Ron Hainsey headed down the tunnel with an apparent injury. Hogberg certainly stood out the Ottawa’s best player in period one although the young guns (Nick Paul, Logan Brown, and, yes, JC Beaudin) got some o the Sens’ best opportunities against Juuse Saros.
Hainsey’s return to start the second period assuaged Ottawa’s fears somewhat and the Senators looked as though they would get some time on the power play to take some of the burden of the defence as Colton Sissons took a holding penalty. The advantage was negated mere seconds later though as Thomas Chabot got two for a questionable interference call on a zone entry.
With some great defensive play at four-on-four from Mark Borowiecki and Chris Tierney, Ottawa transitioned cleanly into Nashville’s end and Colin White snuck in behind Nashville’s defenders. White did a great job imitating Craig Smith’s goal, popping one over Saros’ shoulder.
I don't know anyone who needed a goal like this more than Colin White.— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) December 20, 2019
That's his first since Nov. 11 (18 games).#Sens are actually now up 2-1 but my hands are cold and I can only GIF so fast !!! pic.twitter.com/y6JHUmUNvV
Ottawa would take the lead less than a minute later as Jean-Gabriel Pageau found Vlad Namestnikov in the slot shorthanded and Vlad took advantage of a Saros miscue and some crossed up Nashville back checkers.
Replay of Namestnikov's goal from Pageau pic.twitter.com/EJIwgDFOjK— OSNL (@OSNL11) December 20, 2019
On an ensuing forecheck, Tyler Ennis drew another Nashville penalty to cap off an exceptional individual shift. Ottawa couldn’t get to Saros on the power play although they looked much more poised than usual and did a much better job of finding each other in high-danger areas. Chabot looked especially composed and patient and provided some real hope for Ottawa’s special teams despite their failure to convert.
Nonetheless, Ottawa’s defence had to stand tall as even strength play resumed and the Predators had the upper hand on some tired Senators skaters. What at first looked like a brilliant save from Hogberg, turned out an Erik Brannstrom block point blank. Tyler Ennis stood out to me for much of the period and had an assist to show for it as he set up Artem Anisimov who scored from the paint with two Predators watching.
Not one to miss out on the action, Brady Tkachuk started the third period on a mission. He drew a penalty in the first minute and Ottawa quickly padded their lead as Pageau found Brady in open ice and Tkachuk lasered one over Saros’ shoulder. I get so used to seeing the Brady specials served up in the crease that I forget just how wicked his shot looks when he has time and space.
Brady snipe.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) December 20, 2019
GOAL: Tkachuk (12) PPG
ASSISTS: Pageau (10), Duclair (8) pic.twitter.com/2wBnXBNUrp
Ottawa lapsed gravely on the ensuing shift leaving Rocco Grimaldi in tight on Hogberg and the Nashville forward tucked the puck in to get back within two. The goal occurred somewhere in the grey area where the referee could have blown the whistle sooner or Pageau could have stood his ground more determinedly. DJ Smith didn’t feel the need to risk a review with Ottawa still up by two in the third.
Nashville kept things a little too interesting as Mark Borowiecki took a soft penalty and the Predators scored quickly with the advantage. Ottawa looked rather flat-footed on the penalty kill although to the credit of Chris Tierney, he had just come off a couple of great even strength shifts before Ottawa’s penalty-killers conceding the goal. As score effects began to take their toll (see the gameflow), Hogberg had to make more than one all-or-nothing saves to keep Ottawa’s lead in tact.
While Ottawa awaited a call on some apparent interference from Kyle Turris on Artem Anisimov, Roman Josi absolutely dissected the Senators’ defence and snuck one behind Marcus Hogberg. Much like Grimaldi’s goal, Ottawa looked guilty of waiting for a whistle instead of sticking to their assignments and addressing the threat. With the game tied, Nashville continued to apply pressure looking for the second point and Ottawa inexplicably turtled looking for a loser point during a rebuilding season. Alas we got some free hockey out of it! Here’s Josi’s beauty:
Roman Josi goes coast-to-coast to tie the game pic.twitter.com/JecdJ6I8x9— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 20, 2019
Erik Brannstrom set the tone in extra time, drawing a penalty and generating some looks as Hogberg headed to the bench and Ottawa enjoyed some 4-on-3 action on the delayed call. After the Predators finally touched the puck, Ottawa’s power play went to work and I may need new glasses because they looked genuinely dangerous. With Tkachuk parked out front, Chabot holding the line, Pageau in motion, and Anthony Duclair as the trigger man, Nashville seemingly had no chance on this one.
- Hogberg! Seriously, this guy has had to work so hard to get his first win and tonight completely exemplified his tenacity and determination. All four goals he did concede came from within the high-danger zone between and below the dots (see the heatmap). Hoggy absolutely earned it tonight with 33 saves on 36 even strength shots for a solid 91.7 save percentage behind some occasionally shaky defence. To me, Hogberg looks entirely ready to play in the NHL should Ottawa move one of Craig Anderson or Anders Nilsson before the deadline.
- Anthony Duclair: the deadline throw-in who keeps on giving. Tony D notched his 20th goal in this one and the calendar hasn’t even flipped to January yet. Beyond Duclair’s obvious contributions as a Senator, I enjoy this narrative so much after reading about how he probably had one shot left to make it as an NHL player and now the Duke has his name on the all-star ballot.
- I feel like I have spent most of this season defending Colin White’s new contract and I will continue to do so until I lose my voice. And while it won’t convince anyone immediately, White’s drought-breaker tonight should with any luck get him back on track mentally so he can put up the points to remind fans in Ottawa that they have a real keeper up front.
- Erik Brannstrom also seems to have fallen somewhat out of favour with the fanbase after failing to pile up the points as some expected he would in his rookie season. I maintain however that given his shot metrics he has continued to develop into a reall promising NHL defender. Tonight Erik played top four minutes among Ottawa defenders and led the group in five-on-five corsi-for percentage per natural stat trick with fairly defensive deployment.
- All of Ottawa’s potential deadline assets who dressed tonight had at least one point. Artem Anisimov and Vlad Namestnikov each had a goal. Chris Tierney, Tyler Ennis, Mark Borowiecki, and Ron Hainsey each had one assist while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had three(!).
Ottawa pressed to score four and immediately stopped playing thereafter
The rebuilding Sens matched up surprisingly well in quality against the “contending” Preds