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Senators Fall to Flyers in Tight, Physical Battle

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Anthony Duclair scored two goals in the losing effort

Ottawa Senators v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

There’s been a trend developing with the Ottawa Senators recently. No, I’m not talking about their stretch of disappointing results, now at 1-6-0 in their last seven games thanks to today’s 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Rather, I’m looking at how competitive the Sens have been in those games. With the exception of the 7-2 loss to the Wild, they were legitimately “right there” in each of their recent losses. Did they deserve to lose those games, albeit not by much? Probably. However, to be blunt, a roster like the one Pierre Dorion has put together has absolutely no business being competitive in nearly every single game they've played. But thanks to D.J. Smith, they have. I’m going to be diving deeper into this topic in the following weeks, but today’s game has given us plenty to talk about already.

The Sens began the game under intense pressure from the Flyers, and Travis Konecny would take advantage of a fortuitous bounce to open the scoring early:

Ottawa would push back after the opening goal, and respond with one of their own. Connor Brown and Jean-Gabriel Pageau went to work in the Flyers’ end and got the puck to Brady Tkachuk for his 10th goal of the season, and fifth in five career games against the Flyers.

Shortly after that, however, Jonathan Davidsson would take a hooking penalty and on the ensuing Flyers’ possession via delayed call, Shayne Gostisbehere fired a shot from the point which deflected off Chris Tierney and past Craig Anderson for the go-ahead goal.

A few minutes later, things would become even worse for the Senators, as Anderson ended up with an injury with the puck somehow in the Senators’ net after he tried to snag the puck with his glove. Ottawa was able to reverse the goal via a successful Coach’s Challenge for offside, however they couldn’t reverse the injury, so Anders Nilsson was forced to take over. The successful challenge marked a change in momentum for the Sens, as the Flyers didn’t get a single shot on goal for the remaining 10+ minutes of the period. Ottawa would generate lots of pressure the other way, including some looks on a power play which looked more decent than dangerous.

Nearing the end of the period, the game became extremely physical as Mark Borowiecki threw this hit on Konecny, who left the game and didn’t return:

Things began to escalate, culminating in a fight between Nick Paul and Jakub Voracek, featuring a strong uppercut from Paul:

The frame ended with Ottawa up in shots 9-6, and up in 5v5 attempts 15-10.

The second period saw both teams pick up where they left off, with another fight between Pageau(?) and Flyers’ 2018 1st rounder Joel Farabee(???). Things calmed down afterwards, and both teams would trade power plays. Ottawa didn’t score on theirs, but they did score on Philadelphia’s, thanks to Anthony Duclair catching an unsuspecting Gostisbehere off guard behind the net and putting the puck past Carter Hart for the tie game:

Tierney and C.Brown would generate another chance right after, as Ottawa looked like the more dangerous team on that Flyers’ PP. The Sens went into the intermission up in shots 20-14.

Much like in the 1st, the Flyers opened the 3rd period with relentless pressure. The Sens really didn’t get a chance to respond before Ivan Provorov ripped a shot past Nilsson to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead. Zaitsev’s defending off the rush could’ve been a bit better on that play.

The Senators would get back on track after another chance by Duclair, and get the lion’s share of opportunities in the remainder of the game. Although they failed to score on the third and most dangerous of their power play attempts, Thomas Chabot would make a great play shortly after, carrying the puck into the zone with speed, and from behind the goal line, dished it to Anthony Duclair, who scored his second of the game and made it 4-3 for the Flyers...wait, what? Yeah, I blinked and it was 4-3 Philly after Duclair had seemingly tied the game. I was pretty mad at Scott Laughton for scoring the game-winning goal, although not as much as Brady Tkachuk:

This happened with the Senators fighting for the tying goal with the net empty, but in a season like this, it’s not too frustrating. I just hope he doesn’t pull this kind of stunt during Game 7 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final against Vancouver, with the Senators down by a goal with a minute left. Anyway, that’s the game, 4-3 Philly. Shots were 30-21 in favour of Ottawa.

Thoughts:

  • Despite some mistakes here and there, Zaitsev and the rest of the Senators’ defence held down the fort for the most part, allowing only 21 shots on goal. The entire team had a 5v5 xGF% of 58.08%. Against a high-powered Flyers’ offence, that was a commendable 60-minute effort.
  • I feel bad for Craig Anderson. Not just because of his injury, but also because the two goals he allowed on six shots were off a bad bounce and a deflection. His save percentage really hasn’t been indicative of his play this year. Not stellar, but still capable.
  • Anthony Duclair is the man. Need I say anything else?
  • Before the Anthony Duclair Show in the 2nd period, I had my gold star beside Tyler Ennis’ name. He was the main offensive catalyst in the 1st period, worked to keep the puck in the offensive zone for minutes at a time, and finished the game with a 5v5 CF% of 58.62%.

Stats:

A closely-fought battle in the shot attempt department today, but coming out ahead even by a tiny bit is still a fantastic result for this growing team.

Both teams had the bulk of their chances from near the goal, with the Flyers focusing on the point more than the Senators.

Up Next:

  • The Senators return home for a Tuesday (Dec. 9) matchup against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop scheduled for 7:30 PM EST.