If there was ever a week for the Belleville Senators to have physically earned their points, it was this one. Over the course of three games against Binghamton, Hershey and Toronto, the BSens went past regulation in all three matches, losing twice in a shootout and beating the Marlies in a thriller last night.
Friday, February 2 - Binghamton 3, Belleville 2 (SO)
Friday’s matchup featured Marcus Hogberg against Cory Schneider between the pipes. Looking to get off to a strong start, Logan Brown kicked off the scoring for Belleville just over a minute into the first frame. Brown picked up a pass from Batherson, fought off Tariq Hammond and tucked the puck between Schneider’s legs for his 10th of the year. It took almost the entire remainder of the period for the Devils to respond and the two teams went into their respective rooms knotted after one.
Early in the second, Tobias Lindberg’s excellent puck protection allowed him to find Aaron Luchuk who slid the puck to Max McCormick for the one-timer to regain the lead. The remainder of the second saw the BSens head to the powerplay three different times but they were unsuccessful in building on their one goal lead.
It didn’t take long into the third for Binghamton to get back in the game as Nathan Bastian scored a few minutes into things. This game would need overtime and a shootout for a decision to be made. The only player to score during the shootout was Bastian and the BSens headed home with just one point for their effort.
Logan Brown - Brown continues his offensive pace at the pro level after finding some consistency, mainly regarding his health. His goal displayed his strength, hands and confidence very nicely.
Aaron Luchuk - After dealing with some injuries of his own, Luchuk has started to come alive in the last few games. In this one, he mainly played with McCormick and Lindberg and the trio was effective on most shifts.
Morgan Klimchuk - It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned Klimchuk but he was buzzing around the Devils net in this one, he just couldn’t bury. His five shots on net led both teams.
Here are the highlights.
Saturday, February 3 - Hershey 3, Belleville 2 (SO)
After a relatively light workout of only 17 shots for Hogberg on Friday, Filip Gustavsson received the start on Saturday and was a much busier guy. The Bears got on the board first, about halfway through the opening period, when Shane Gersich picked up a loose puck and jumped out on a breakaway, beating Gustavsson through the legs. The lead didn’t last much longer than a few minutes, however, when Jack Rodewald pounced on a rebound and evened things up. Less than a minute later, the Bears were back on top on a rough 2-on-1 play from Christian Wolanin.
It wasn’t until the third period that Belleville tied things up. Brown’s silky hands allowed him to get in very tight and ring a backhand off the post. The puck eventually bounced to Batherson who buried it. Neither team could regain the lead in the third or end the game in overtime.
Another shootout, another three missed attempts by the BSens. Hershey’s Riley Barber scored on the first shot of the shootout and it was the eventual decider.
Logan Brown - You’re likely getting tired of seeing his name here but his progression from his return from injury to now has been fantastic. It doesn’t hurt that his most consistent winger has been the 2019 AHL All Star MVP.
Drake Batherson - Speak of the devil. See above.
Filip Gustavsson - Gus was a busy bee on Saturday night, facing 35 shots over 65 minutes. On top of that, the BSens were a perfect 7 for 7 on the penalty kill and Gustavsson standing tall was a big reason.
Here are the highlights.
Tuesday, February 5 - Belleville 7, Toronto 6 (OT)
Tuesday night was worth the price of AHLTV itself. It wasn’t a good defensive game from either team, but as a hockey fan sometimes it’s more fun to watch a game where the two teams combine for 13 goals and the lead changes frequently.
Nick Paul rejoined his teammates and was a difference maker on a line with Brown and Batherson in his first game back. The opening goal was made possible by a chip from the boards by Brown up to Paul, who moved the puck in the offensive zone, dropped to Batherson who fed it back to Paul and Erik Burgdoerfer eventually banged the puck in. Jeremy Bracco evened the score shortly thereafter as he was left wide open on the backdoor. A few minutes later, a defensive breakdown below the goal line had the Marlies in front by one, as Sam Gagner was all alone with the puck on his stick and beat Hogberg easily. The first period scoring wasn’t quite over, however, as Jordan Murray’s point shot beat Michael Hutchinson clean for his sixth of the year.
The second frame was just like the first - each team scored two goals and the period ended tied. This time it was Toronto opening the scoring for the period when Chris Mueller found himself on a breakaway and sniped one bar down. Paul got his name in the goal column a few minutes later on a fantastic play by the top line of the game. Brown, Batherson and Paul were all battling for the puck against the boards, Brown used his big frame to protect the puck from a defending Marlie and Paul picked up it and deposited it promptly behind Hutchinson. Towards the end of the period, Luchuk scored his third of the year on a deflection from an Andreas Englund bullet from the point, for yet another lead change. Of course, as was foreshadowed, the lead didn’t last long and the teams were tied at four after 40.
I know what you’re thinking, how many more goals could they possibly score in this one? Well, just over five minutes into the frame, Luchuk made sure his team was going to have a chance at the W. On the forecheck, Luchuk intercepted an errant pass and beat Hutchinson upstairs to regain the Belleville lead. Only 20 seconds later (yes, you read that correctly), Filip Chlapik, Brown and Batherson connected for what I think might be one of the nicest set plays I’ve seen in a long time. Check it out for yourself, courtesy of @SensProspects.
Holy smokes what a tic-tac-goal for Drake Batherson off some slick passing by Logan Brown and Filip Chlapik after Nick Paul won the PP draw. That's 1G, 2A for Batherson and 2A for Brown tonight. pic.twitter.com/4ow74GhyN8— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 6, 2019
The way Brown’s pass is perfectly placed in a tight seam is pure magic to me. I’ve watched the above gif far more times than I care to admit in the past 24 hours.
Now with the two goal lead, the BSens were on their way to a regulation win for the first time in what feels like forever. Unfortunately, the Marlies had something different in mind and added two goals of their own to finish the third knotted at six.
After a flurry of chances in the extra frame, it was none other than Brown and Batherson who would connect for the game winner.
Drake Batherson feeds Logan Brown for the OT winner!!— Sens Prospects (@SensProspects) February 6, 2019
4 point night (1-3-4) for Drake, 3 points (1-2-3) for Logan in a wild 7-6 win. pic.twitter.com/YUHs8LVp9G
The BSens now own a 5-1-1-1 record against the Toronto Marlies this season.
In an effort to switch things up a bit, let’s just assume Brown (1 goal, 2 assists) and Batherson (1 goal, 3 assists) are the two top standouts for this game and talk about some other players for once.
Aaron Luchuk - Scoring two goals, one of which came off great work on the forecheck has me more intrigued about Luchuk than I was a few months ago (mostly because of his time missed due to injury, to be honest). He was fantastic last night and I hope he can continue building on this past week down the stretch.
Nick Paul - After being waived by Ottawa, it would have been easy for Paul to go through the motions and just play a hockey game last night. He clearly decided to prove the Sens brass wrong by being dominant. Coach Mann called the trio of Brown, Paul and Batherson a a “bonified number one line” and I’d have to agree.
Filip Chlapik - Chlapik contributed an assist and three shots for Belleville in this matchup and was very effective despite not having the same calibre of linemates that other players of his skill had. He played most of the game with Andrew Sturtz and Chase Balisey.
Here are the highlights.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about how the Belleville Senators are trying to get their name into the playoff picture. They have now earned at least one point in their last six contests, which is a good start - unfortunately three of those games were shootout losses. Some progress has been made - in that they’re no longer at the bottom of the Eastern Conference - so we’ll be watching closely as they try to close the six point gap between them and the final playoff spot.
The Senators made another minor league trade yesterday - Ross has the details here. There are likely a few contributing factors to moving out McCormick but the main one is likely his contract. McCormick was making a lot of money on a one-way contract whereas Jean-Christophe Beaudin is on the final year of his ELC and is five years younger. I don’t expect we’ll see Beaudin in Ottawa any time soon but I’m looking forward to seeing what he brings to the lineup this weekend.
The BSens are back in action on Friday in a back-to-back with Laval before they head to Toronto (for what feels like the millionth game this season) to complete a rare 3-in-3 weekend.
If you’ll recall from when you read this fact 15 seconds ago, the BSens are six points out of a playoff spot. With three games this weekend, two against a beatable squad from Laval, this would be a very good weekend to pick up oh, I don’t know, six points?