Losing is never fun, even in a tanking season. It took a while for the Ottawa Senators to break their nine-game skid, but they did it in the scrappiest way possible against the Calgary Flames, beating them 5-2 for their first win of 2020.
To say the Sens were outplayed would be an understatement. Especially earlier in the game, the lack of offensive zone time became increasingly frustrating to watch, with little effort being put in to make it past the Flames’ neutral zone coverage. I’ll share the game flow again at the bottom, put I feel like I need to pre-emptively show you how much the Flames were dominating.
Not only was the Sens’ 70 shots against at 5v5 one away from their season high, but their 26 shots for was tied for their lowest output of the season, despite the game having minimal power play/penalty kill time.
Obviously, the score ended much differently. Brady Tkachuk’s opener, in the fourth edition of the Battle of the Tkachuks, would set the tone for the rest of the Sens’ offence. His pass through the slot didn’t reach his teammate, as instead it hit Travis Hamonic’s leg and went into the net past David Rittich.
The rest of the goals for Ottawa would follow suit. Chris Tierney’s eighth of the season was a quick knock-in after the puck bounced off a hundred skates. Connor Brown made it 3-0 on the power play with a weirdly angled deflection that trickled over the goal line. Then in the third period, Colin White was delivered a juicy rebound by Rittich during an odd-man rush.
You may call it being in the right place at the right time — I call it luck. A goal is a goal, though, and Ottawa found themselves with a comfortable 4-0 lead in the third period, with less than 20 shots on goal to their name.
The camera pans to Marcus Högberg. The 25-year-old rookie was having himself a game, keeping the Flames off the scoreboard while bailing out the Sens’ awful defence every 30 seconds. He’s been showing promise despite all the recent losses — could he get his first career shutout?
Nope. Mark Jankowski struck with six minutes left as the spoiler. It was too little too late, however, as Vladislav Namestnikov scored on the empty net. Noah Hanifin also scored with a couple minutes left, but even Hanifin knew it was completely meaningless. Sens win, 5-2.
- Marcus Högberg was the much-deserved first star of the game. His highlight reel is surprisingly extensive for someone with less than a dozen NHL games.
- Brady Tkachuk had the superior game to Matthew Tkachuk, which was nice. He beat him in the opening faceoff dot, then went on to post a goal and assist. Connor Brown, his linemate, also had two points for his third straight game.
- The line of Chlapik-White-Batherson sounds fun in concept, but they were absolutely decimated defensively against the Flames’ third line.
- Scott Sabourin was played for a total of 3:40, and was on the ice for zero shots for and six against (including a goal) — in case you were wondering how he’s doing.
- Every defenceman was a culprit in the ludicrously bad defensive performance, but a special shoutout goes to Mark Borowiecki and Nikita Zaitsev, who seem to make the worst decisions in the most timid ways.
- I’m not sure if it was good or bad for Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s trade stock that he sat this one out with a sore neck.
It’s the All-Star break! Anthony Duclair will be the only Senator in action for the next week, with the team returning on January 27th to face the New Jersey Devils.