Senators fans who stayed up on Tuesday night for a mid-winter match-up with the Avalanche didn’t exactly get rewarded for their devotion as Ottawa’s offence remains all but non-existent in 2020. For those of you who thought the high shooting-percentage good times would last forever, let me introduce you to regression. Scoring aside, the Sens should feel proud about this one as they hung around in terms of shot volume and never really looked out of it at even strength.
Both goaltenders looked dialed in early as neither Marcus Hogberg nor Philipp Grubauer conceded much in the way of rebounds and neither team had a tonne of sustained pressure in the opening minutes. Ottawa looked well-rested and demonstrated good speed to match with the skill of Colorado’s big line. Just as the Avalanche started getting into a groove, Gabriel Landeskog took an ill-advised penalty on Dylan DeMelo as retribution for an earlier hit that Dylan laid on Nathan MacKinnon. Ottawa’s powerplay, however, looked as toothless as it has for much of the season and Colorado’s penalty killers had little difficulty with it.
Minutes later, Connor Brown took a hooking penalty and Ottawa had to fend off the Avalanche’s much more potent five-on-four attack. Suffice to say, Marcus Hogberg went above the call of duty once again to keep the game scoreless with Ottawa penalty-killers getting their turn against the vaunted offence of the Avalanche. For the most part, I found Ottawa looked up to the task of shutting down MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog. And I particularly enjoyed the shades of Methot and Crosby that I saw when DeMelo drew the MacKinnon assignment (luckily DeMelo got to keep all of his fingers).
Marcus Hogberg continued his strong play throughout the first, with the lone blemish hardly his fault. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen conspired to absolutely embarrass Ron Hainsey and Cody Goloubef and I think we can all forgive Hogberg who was left all alone with one one of the league’s elite wingers:
Mikko Rantanen my goodness pic.twitter.com/e5F67EVzYv— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 12, 2020
Ottawa pressed to start the second period and drew another penalty early on. Anthony Duclair, however, still can’t buy a goal and no one else could get any good looks on another underwhelming Senators powerplay. I did enjoy how Ottawa’s powerplay adapted somewhat to Colorado’s penalty-kill efforts as the Senators attempted to implement more stretch passes although to no avail.
About a quarter of the way though the second, Colin White took a hooking penalty and Ottawa’s penalty-killers took to the ice once again. I would like to take this opportunity to shower some praise on Ottawa’s special teams here as the PK played an extra aggressive style in this game. The Senators rarely stayed in the set box just trying to disrupt passes and instead sent a skater at the puck carrier every time in the defensive zone. The tactic seemed rather effective as Colorado struggled to generate good looks after their first powerplay. All the usual suspects, Pageau and Namestnikov among them, got active with their pokechecks and actively engaged with the Avalanche’s skilled forwards to often separate the carrier from the puck and get it out of harm’s way.
The rest of the second saw Ottawa looking a little more fatigued for all their time spent short-handed and Hogberg continued to perform as the Senators’ best player especially after the Sens took another frustrating too many men penalty. Coming off that kill, Nick Paul made a hard drive at the Avalanche net and after Gabriel Landeskog cross-checked Paul into Phillip Grubauer, DJ Smith challenged that Paul had scored on what the refs deemed a dead play. Ottawa got the insult and the injury as the officials awarded no goal and assessed no penalty on the play.
#Sens fans..... goal or no goal?? pic.twitter.com/1lmn3hxJRZ— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) February 12, 2020
Subsequent to this play, Paul took a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that I don’t personally mind. Most of the officiating had gone Colorado’s way. Paul got ripped off and as a team, nothing has gone right for Ottawa on the ice lately. I like the passion from Paul and I like seeing young players still engaged as the year slipped away weeks ago.
Thomas Chabot flew out of the gate in period three (despite playing what seemed like another twenty-plus minutes) and had himself a nice coast-to-coast skate that ended with a shot off the post. That pretty much sums up Ottawa’s night on offence. Cody Goloubef drew a soft penalty midway through the third and after the Sens had killed off four Colorado powerplays, Val Nichushkin converted on number five.
A beautiful power train goal! #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/vb0JDg9OOL— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) February 12, 2020
DJ Smith pulled Marcus Hogberg with three and a half minutes to go with Ottawa down a pair. However, the way things have gone for this Senators offence, three and a half hours with the extra skater may not have sufficed to score two. The Avs added the empty net and that was all she wrote.
- On goalies: Ottawa surprisingly got Colorado’s number one netminder in Philipp Grubauer despite the low stakes in this game while Craig Anderson did not get the opportunity to face off against his former team. Sentimentally I don’t enjoy watching Andy miss out on these moments. Realistically, however, Marcus Hogberg has taken over as Ottawa’s number one.
- On Russians: Have we set a record for Russian presence in a game this season? Anisimov, Namestnikov, Zaitsev, Zadorov, Burakovsky, Nichushkin, and Kamenev all played in the game tonight.
- On feistiness: This game felt very chippy for an inter-conference match-up. And I feel like I’ve said this before in a game summary. Can no one handle Brady Tkachuk? You gotta ask the question.
- On scratches: I was glad to see Mikkel Boedker getting a chance. He has impressed me in limited minutes this season and as wild as it sounds, I think some teams should still inquire about his services at the deadline. However, I don’t agree with scratching Filip Chlapik who has had impressive fancy stats in his limited role. Ideally, Chlapik will have a full time gig in Ottawa after the deadline,
- On penalties: Ottawa took too many of them. Yes, I like the passion and yes, I was impressed with the penalty kill. Nonetheless, the young guys have to work on staying out of the box even if the officials seem determined to keep them in there.
- Free Tommy! I loved this game for Chabot. I don’t know what changed (maybe his partner?) but Tommy looked so confident with the puck on his stick and tonight he was the player we remember from the Q. I never doubted Chabot even as the season crawled along hopelessly. I understand that it’s difficult for players to find motivation and I feel as though Tommy had focused primarily on the shut-down aspect of his game for much of this season. I hope he continues to open up down the stretch though and show off that offensive flare especially if he continues to get minutes paired with DeMelo. For all the long nights we’ve endured as fans this season, I hope we can have this one thing to look forward to.