In the wake of the Edmonton Oilers and Ottawa Senators both having to survive some embarrassing quotes from upper management, tonight’s game can be dubbed the battle of the NHL’s two most inept front offices. With the Sens already long removed from the playoff picture, it was up to them to play spoilers once again, with Edmonton on their last breath of hope for the post-season. Ottawa managed to hold on, with Brady Tkachuk being the hero in their 4-3 overtime win.
The Sens opened the scoring early, with Tkachuk scoring his 18th goal of the season. With the Oilers’ $6 million man, Milan Lucic, in the box for holding, the Ottawa power play got to work on the road. With Tkachuk holding the puck behind the net and attempting to make a pass back to the blue line, the puck deflected off of Adam Larsson and past the Oilers’ $4.5 million man, Mikko Koskinen.
The Oilers tied it up soon after, with Alex Chiasson scoring his 21st... hold up, Alex Chiasson has 21 goals this season?!? Sure, he was shooting over 25% for the first quarter of the season, but it feels weird seeing Chiasson scoring more points than Jason Spezza for the first time in his career... in an Oilers jersey.
Back to the game, Darnell Nurse sent a clean pass through a couple Sens defenders (Christian Wolanin and Ben Harpur) and right to Chiasson, who had no players separating him from Craig Anderson. His quick backhand move tricked the Sens’ goalie, tying the game at one apiece. Chiasson got physical later in the period, dropping the gloves with Harpur.
The Sens wouldn’t finish the period without another goal, though, as Bobby Ryan gave Ottawa the lead. On the power play again, Thomas Chabot made a strategic pinch, and Ryan noticed and started to drift in closer to the net. Chabot threw the puck in front of Koskinen, and Ryan’s tap-in sealed the deal. To Ryan’s credit, he drew the original penalty, kept the play onside, and then got to the front of the net for the goal, so it was more work that just your regular tap-in. The Sens had a 2-1 lead after one.
While the Oilers may be on the outside looking in for the playoff race, they still have two of the world’s best players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It wasn’t a matter of if they’d score, it was a matter of when. And when they had a 2-on-1 against Christian Jaros, a goal felt inevitable. A quick give-and-go by the two Edmonton stars beat Anderson, making the game 2-2 early in the second period.
The rest of the frame would stand to be relatively mellow compared to the previous 20 minutes. Chabot was looking in top form, breaking up plays and making things happen offensively. There were no more penalties or goals, though, as the teams finished out the second period even at two.
The sequence of Ottawa taking the lead continued into the third, with Brian Gibbons scoring his 6th of the season. Forget the 27% shooting percentage, seeing Gibbons score at a 25-goals-per-season pace with the Sens is definitely a sight to behold. This one came off a stellar feed from Magnus Paajarvi, as the bottom six continues to somehow find the back of the net.
But just like the first two times, Edmonton got one back soon after, with every Sens player getting lost in their own zone. With Joseph Gambardella holding the puck after a steal, Colby Cave had a shooting lane in close, which he buried past Anderson. This was certainly not one of the Sens’ brighter defensive moments, not like there’s been many of those this season to begin with.
The Senators were leading in shots on goal, and the Oilers were leading in total shots, but the goal column had the teams tied. Regulation solved nothing, so overtime was needed.
At the opening faceoff, with Pageau facing off against OT wizard McDavid, it seemed like the Sens had an uphill battle ahead of them. They played conservatively, killing time until the Oilers stars left the bench, but they still couldn’t make anything happen.
After an Edmonton chance at one end, the Sens stripped them of the puck, and Tkachuk was off on a 2-on-1 with Rudolfs Balcers. Tkachuk opted to shoot, and with McDavid and Draisaitl helplessly watching from behind the play, the puck trickled into the back of the net. Game over, with Tkachuk being the OT hero.
- It’s been 96 days since Anderson’s last win, and he stopped 26 of 29 to earn this one.
- This was Harpur’s 100th NHL game — make of that what you will.
- Of course Tkachuk deserves a nod, for his two-goal performance. He needs one more to hit 20.
- Chabot was also stellar, returning earlier than expected from injury after missing the last four games.
The Sens travel back to Ottawa for a four game home stand, starting against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.