It was a game that the Ottawa Senators would probably like to forget, but one that would also do well to remember.
In their second of three straight games against the Winnipeg Jets, the Senators never got out of the starting gate, and were dealt a more-decisive-than-it-appeared 4-1 loss. Matt Murray was pulled after allowing four goals through two periods, while Connor Hellebuyck was excellent, turning aside 28 of 29 Ottawa chances.
The Senators’ record falls to 1-2-1.
It was a striking contrast from Ottawa’s last effort against Winnipeg, when they outplayed the Jets for the vast majority of the game, but still saw a 3-1 lead evaporate into an overtime defeat. This time, the Jets put the pedal to the metal, and didn’t ease off all night.
The first period was fairly pedestrian, with neither team truly breaking through for any sustained offence, but it would be the Jets that struck first. Nikolaj Ehlers took a quick point shot, and with Matt Murray screened by Josh Brown and Braydon Coburn, it squeaked through his five-hole to open the scoring.
While the Sens were able to generate some momentum with a powerplay at the end of the frame, it was not a sign of things to come.
Mark Scheifele capped off a pretty passing play to make it 2-0 at 4:22 of the second. Less than three minutes later, Thomas Chabot let Trevor Lewis sneak behind him in the neutral zone, and after his breakaway opportunity hit the post, Adam Lowry banged home the rebound to make it three-goal lead. Blake Wheeler added another just before the 14-minute mark, and Ottawa headed to the third period down 4-0.
Marcus Hogberg saw his first action of the season to start the third, and Brady Tkachuk had a tussle with Jansen Harkins on the opening shift, as the Sens were desperate to turn the tide. While it was far too little, far too late, the final stanza yielded some more favourable results. The Tkachuk-Norris-Batherson line took their rightful place at the top of the TOI charts, and good puck movement on the powerplay created a few opportunities, but the Sens couldn’t solve Hellebuyck.
Tempers flared near the end of the game. A post-whistle skirmish saw Brady Tkachuk exchange punches with Nathan Beaulieu, Drake Batherson nearly dropped the mitts with Scheifele, and Erik Gudbranson grabbed a hold of Logan Stanley. Penalties, and misconducts were handed out, as the temperature continued to rise in this newly-minted North Division.
Chris Tierney would bank in his third of the season off his skate with just under three minutes to go, and while the Sens avoided being shutout, they would ultimately fall 4-1.
The game boasted nothing to write home about, to say the last.
No one; be they young players, veterans, or coaches, can be described as having played a good game, tonight. The four goals will go down as a blemish of sorts on Matt Murray’s record, and while he allowed a couple soft ones, he hardly bears the sole culpability for this effort. Thomas Chabot had an off night, and the Senators’ top young players were rendered ineffective by good defence, time wasted killing penalties, and deployment.
As difficult as these games are, they’re going to happen to a team that’s still coming out of a rebuild. The only hope can be that they’re less frequent by season’s end.
- Nikita Zaitsev tallied his team-leading fifth assist on Tierney’s goal. The beginning part of his season has been a night-and-day improvement since last year, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain that pace.
- The only line that had a somewhat decent evening was the Paul-Tierney-C. Brown combination. They’ve played excellent defence, and have controlled the possession and chances metrics when given the opportunity. While they’re not going to score enough goals to get you back into a game, they’re establishing themselves as the go-to checking line.
- The Senators haven’t beaten the Jets since February 16th, 2019.
- Brady Tkachuk predictably tried to drag his team into the game by taking his pound of flesh, in the third. He went after Harkins early, then threw some massive shots at Beaulieu to win an early trip to the showers. Needless to say, but Tkachuk remains the emotional leader of the team.
- Thomas Chabot had an uncharacteristic evening. His CF% was a respectable 52%, and the chances for and against were even with him on the ice, but the Sens were scored on twice while Chabot was deployed, and he the blame for Lowry’s goal can be placed pretty squarely on him. These games are few and far between from Chabot, but are still a little jarring when they do happen.
- The Braydon Coburn - Josh Brown pairing was absolutely shelled, collectively out-chanced 43-3. Not great.
Up next: Ottawa plays their first road game of the season on Saturday, with another against the Jets. Puck drop is scheduled for 10pmEST.