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Senators Start Off Road Trip with Huge Win

The one where Brady Tkachuk scores his first of the season

Ottawa Senators v Dallas Stars Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

First things first: can we address how awful the Dallas Stars jerseys were from tonight’s game? How could anyone in their right mind approve these horrendous eyesores?

Moving on, the Senators were coming off 3 straight losses and were hoping this road trip could change the ebb and flow of their season. The good news: they started the game with high energy and organized attacks. It was the kind of start you want to see from a young team on the road, especially after a 3-day break.

It didn’t take long for the Sens to make their mark. Less than 6 minutes into the game, the Senators get their first power play and Josh Norris put them up 1-0.

If you were getting worried about Brady Tkachuk’s transition back to the team, he would like you to know he’s doing just fine. How we all missed that Frank the Tank celebration! 2-0 Ottawa before the first is out.

Later. Alex Formenton had an empty net but got robbed by an insane save; it proved to be the beginning of a string of missed opportunities for Formenton.

Matching their great offensive game, the Senators had an almost flawless period on the forecheck and defensive end as well. They limited their turnovers and were able to take calculated risks and transition really well from their own zone to the offensive zone.

The Stars had a better start to the second period though, and the Senators needed to be sharp early on. Jamie Benn tried to make a mess of Zub and we could all hear Beata’s gasps at this point but Zub being the legend that he is just continued along like it never happened.

Filip Gustavsson made two amazing saves less than 3 minutes into the period before Formenton missed another glorious opportunity. Both goalies flashed their skills, in fact, with Holtby and Gustavsson trading saves.

Almost halfway through the game, the Stars seemed to be playing with much more energy and controlled most of the possession and the Senators were starting to look a bit sloppy. Drake Batherson settled the ship with a dazzleing with a one touch pass to Vanilla Ice Norris who made no mistake to make it 3-0 with his second of the game. I’m sorry, was anyone saying the Sens don’t have a #1 center?

At this stage there hadn’t been too much cause for concern from the Sens’ blue line but a needless Nikita Zaitsev penalty led to a Stars score to make it 3-1. It seems that Joe Pavleski is a huge fan of playing the Senators as this was his 10th straight game with a point against Ottawa.

The Sens started scrambling a bit after that goal and you could see the Stars pressing take advantage of their mistakes. The game also became very physical after Tyler Ennis (?!) threw a huge hit on Comeau — ratcheting up the intensity and the excitement of a rare Friday night Sens game.

Victor Mete got hit by a puck in the face and left the bench. Were we going to see just how much ice time Smith could give Chabot?. Thankfully, Mete was fine and returned in the third.

Nick Holden continued the streak of Sens defenders taking penalties with a holding infraction in front of his own net to give the Stars their second power play of the period. But Gustavsson made his best save of the game to keep the 2-goal lead on Robertson. That power play did no further damage mainly due to the exquisite penalty killing from Nick Paul. Connor Brown and Formenton who put his blazing speed to good use.

With 48 seconds to go in the second frame, Thomas Chabot and Zub came together to create some magic in the offensive zone. While they didn’t score, Chabot was able to draw a penalty hoping to tilt the ice back to the Senators favour.

The less than stellar second period ended with the Senators still leading 3-1. Filip Gustavsson was having himself a night and was the main reason the Sens were still leading the game.

The third began with 1:14 minutes of PP time to start the third period and 20 minutes of hoping Tim Stützle costs Spencer and I some money to charity.

Luckily, Mete was back for the Sens but then Chris Tierney was hit by a Zub shot on the power play. At first glance it looked like his wrist was shattered but he ended up being okay. Unfortunately, the Sens had absolutely nothing going on that power play and the Stars continued to be the more energetic team. At this stage, it was almost 30 minutes of the Sens being back on their heels a bit.

Fortunate Ottawa bought itself some breathing room with a Connor Brown goal thanks to some stellar play from Tim Stützle. The Sens really needed this goal to settle them down as the Stars were carrying the play at that point.

We are still waiting for the first Stützle goal, however.

With 8 minutes left, Formenton got a breakaway but again, he got robbed by Holtby’s pad. Maybe he’ll get a hat trick next game to make up for all the missed opportunities in this game.

The Stars were getting really desperate and came close on several occasions; at least once prompting Gustavsson to reach back behind him. The entire team seemed to have collapsed in front of the net, it didn’t look pretty but it got the job done.

With 3:20 left, the Stars pulled the goalie for an extended 6-on-5. An opportunity for a Norris hat trick or possibly a Stützle first goal? Neither happened, but the Sens come out with a decisive 4-1 win which is all that matters at the end of the day when you’re in the midst of a losing streak.

Game Notes

  • Neville Gallimore from the Dallas Cowboys was at the game tonight. The Ottawa native was spotted sporting a Sens jersey until he was handed a Stars jersey by the in-game host. He itched to take it off until he compromised by wearing half of it pulled up. He couldn’t take it anymore in the third and went back to 100% Sens jersey. It was entertaining to watch his progression with the jerseys and also nice that the Sens got to win for his first time watching them.
  • How does Anton Forsberg fit in the Sens future plans at this point? Matt Murray may continue to get hurt but even when he’s back, Gustavsson is clearly the better goalie right now. At what point do you start prepping him for more NHL games?
  • Zaitsev had another tough game and his pairing with Holden didn’t really work all that well. Right now, it’s simply not working for the Sens. Is his spot in jeopardy at some point? Do we see the return of a certain Swede from the AHL?
  • While the Sens didn’t have the best second and third period, this game was a good test for the youngsters on how to push through and score timely goals. It’s not always going to be easy, and they need to learn the value of fighting for a win when the other team is pushing back as hard as Dallas did.
  • Tim Stützle is just so good, the skillset he has combined with his confidence to make some tough moves is just mind blowing. The goal “drought” is a bit frustrating but it’s going to happen soon and he’s been contributing significantly even without the goals.

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