One night before Santa comes down the chimney, the Ottawa Senators gave their fans a gift of their own. Craig Anderson was phenomenal, stopping 43 of 44 shots, J.G. Pageau scored twice, and Brady Tkachuk tallied three points, as the Sens sailed into the Christmas break with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
In a game where the Senators were outshot, as per usual, Pageau opened the scoring with just 54 seconds to go in the first period. Tkachuk gave him a beautiful feed from the corner, and #44’s one-timer beat Linus Ullmark for his first goal in five games.
Pageau opens the scoring against the Sabres.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) December 24, 2019
GOAL: Pageau (17)
ASSIST: Tkachuk (10) pic.twitter.com/uX8Mo827BW
In response, the Sabres ramped up the attack, peppering Craig Anderson with shot after shot. They would be rewarded with just under five minutes to go in the second, when Zemgus Girgensons slipped a deft little mid-air deflection over Andy’s glove hand to tie the game at 1-1.
Despite the Buffalo pressure, Anderson stood tall from there, and we went to the third period all knotted up.
There, it would be the Senators that broke through. Erik Brannstrom made a great play to block a hard shot that clearly stung him, the puck bounced to Connor Brown, and he fed Pageau. The latter rushed in on Ullmark, who made a great save, but Pageau was able to corral his own rebound, and put it in the wide-open Buffalo net to give Ottawa the lead again.
As nice as the goal was, the hero of this play was Brannstrom, and Pageau and Mark Borowiecki both sought him out on the bench to give the grimacing young defender some love.
With the Sabres desperate for the tying goal, Craig Anderson turned in a Save of the Year candidate, when he robbed Evan Rodrigues at the mouth of his crease.
Thanks to Andy making ten-bell saves left and right, the Sens were able to find the insurance marker with 1:24 to go. Ullmark was on the bench for the extra attacker, and Tkachuk was fouled on a breakway by Henri Jokiharju, subsequently being awarded an automatic goal to make it 3-1 win for Ottawa.
- I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but Craig Anderson was sensational. His first start in 15 days, it looked like the rest did Andy some good, and hopefully he can string together more games like that.
- Erik Brannstrom had another really good night. His confidence seems to be higher, and he’s less panicky with the puck on his stick in the defensive zone. Boro was the only defenceman with a higher CF% at 5on5, and with about 15 even strength minutes, it appears Bonestorm is earning the trust of his coaching staff.
- I love Brady Tkachuk. The Buffalo Sabres did not, tonight. Brady was all over the puck, easily the Sens’ best forward, and the scoreboard showed it.
- Logan Brown played only 9:55mins at even strength tonight, and posted a woeful Corsi rating of 25%. Doesn’t exactly bode well for a guy seemingly on the verge of a return to Belleville.
- Jack Eichel’s 18-game point streak ended tonight. Hate to see it.
The Sens were outplayed pretty much everywhere but the scoresheet, tonight.
The Sabres generated more chances, but Ottawa made the most of theirs.
The Senators return to action on Sunday, hosting the now Taylor Hall-less New Jersey Devils in a 5pmET start.
On behalf of all of us here at Silver Seven, I would like to thank you for supporting our blackout in solidarity with our California colleagues. Merry Christmas, and I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday!