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Senators Extend Losing Streak to 8 against the Blackhawks

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The Return of Zack Smith

NHL: JAN 14 Blackhawks at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Sens have decided to start the new year with a full commitment to the tank; even if they can’t lose them all in regulation. Against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night, they tried to avoid to extending their losing streak to 8 games.

The Senators started the first period with some good chances and an obvious jump to their game. Just four minutes into the game, Dylan DeMelo does what he’s best at: being plain awesome. He kept the puck in the zone at the blue line and made sure to get it to the net where birthday boy Connor Brown capitalized on the rebound to make it 1-0 Sens.

After a missed opportunity on the power play, Thomas Chabot dazzled his way through the Chicago defense to Robin Lehner where he was able to connect with Chris Tierney to make it 2-0. It’s nice when Tierney tries to add to his trade value every now and then. The Sens continued to outplay the Hawks and looked more energized than they have in a while. Drake Batherson was even blocking shots!

It seems like I don’t say this often these days, but the Sens did a fantastic job on the “Welcome Back, Zack” video and really reminded us of how much Smith meant to this team as well as to the community. It was a tough trade to make, but at the time seemed necessary. It was nice seeing him get the much deserved recognition.

The second period started with the Blackhawks coming out in full force. The Senators however managed to match their intensity and snuffed out their offense as much as they possibly could. The Blackhawks’ frustration was starting to mount, you could especially see it through their captain Jonathan Toews after he missed a golden opportunity in front of a wide open net. He obviously blamed the poor stick which he promptly destroyed on the bench. On the other end, the Blackhawks needed a reminder of Chabot’s skill and they left him wide open for a glorious chance, only to be stymied by Lehner.

Chicago kept fighting and while they only had two shots on net through the first half of the period, they were starting to tire the Senators. Unlike the first period, the Senators’ skaters were starting to trail the Hawks. With the pressure building, you could see the next goal coming. After gaining control in the Sens zone alongside some poor coverage by Mark Borowiecki and Nikita Zaitsev, the Hawks cut the lead in half with a goal by Dominik Kubalík with two minutes left in the period.

The Send managed to contain the energy of the Hawks to finish off the period with a 2-1 score.

The third period picked off where the second ended, as the Blackhawks were determined to get the next goal. Moments after the refs missed a call on Balcers, the Sens were all caught covering Kane and Toews as they left the game’s hero Kubalik all alone and he tied the game.

Both teams continued to exchange chances but the Blackhawks were definitely the more desperate team to say the least. Tkachuk and Brown almost connected for the go ahead goal but a rolling puck and a “slight” hook kept the game tied.

There was a little scare from Colin White as he left the ice in pain but it seemed to just have been a groin stretch after a collision with Kirby Dach. All good as White later returned to play.

Another close chance by the Kane/Kubalik line but the Senators got lucky on this one as the deflected off a skate before it got to its intended recipient after Kane evaded several Sens’ defenders. The Blackhawks were just firing shots from everywhere and anywhere at this point while Hogberg was doing a great job being calm in the process.

Speaking of Hogberg: WHAT A SAVE with two minutes left on the hot-handed Kubalik. This kid deserved a win tonight. With one minute left, the Sens were having all kinds of trouble containing the Toews line and getting to overtime seemed like a heavy task at this point. To overtime they managed to go with the Blackhawks outshooting the Sens 29-22.

So here’s how overtime went: Jonathan Toews got the puck, Jonathan Toews skated around his teammates, the Sens, all the fans in the arena, every resident in Ottawa and then just shot it straight into the top corner uncontested t to win the game. Poor Marcus Hogberg.

Game Notes:

  • Robin Lehner’s time in Ottawa was controversial at best but needless to say, I have always felt the Sens gave up on him way too soon. The issue with Lehner was often that his anger troubles took away from his focus that could have made him an elite goaltender. It does seem that karma is on Lehner’s side against Ottawa as his record against the Senators is an impressive 8-0-3 after tonight’s win. Coming into the game, he had a 1.83 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in 13 games against the Senators.
  • There was a nice segment during the TSN broadcast about Colin White and Nick Paul taking the time to make their mark on the Ottawa community with their work with the Ronald McDonald House. With all the changes on the team, this new generation has a lot of work to do to bring back the fans, they’re starting off on the right foot.
  • Regardless of the score, Hogberg played a really good game. He made some key saves to at least bring the Sens to overtime and you can certainly see some progress in his development. He could use some some more win luck though.
  • Pageau’s future with the team is up in the air but seeing him play against the top line tonight againreinforced just how important he is to the team and what kind of return is expected for him.
  • There were three penalties all game, they all happened in the first period. While there were some minor calls missed here and there, it was nice seeing a game flow without a lot of stoppages.

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