As the Senators welcomed almost all of their players back from COVID protocol, Ottawa got back to business tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. It was fair for all parties involved to expect some rust but I think even the most pessimistic of Sens fans - no, not me - didn’t expect the Sens to allow a goal in the first 50 seconds of the game. Alas, here we are.
First shift back and a Josh Brown giveaway ends up in the net. I just don’t see a valid reason for defending it. pic.twitter.com/hhe5PCuqSe— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 23, 2021
It’s been a painfully recurring theme, watching the bottom half of the Sens blueline commit turnover after turnover and this shift was no exception. It’s hard to determine what the gameplan was but the passing before the turnover didn’t inspire much confidence that this shift would end in any other way.
Later in the first, Ottawa got themselves on the board with what we thought was Lassi Thomson’s first NHL goal.
Alas, Thomson’s first NHL goal would have to wait as the goal was later changed to Zach Sanford.
Unfortunately, in true Sens fashion, the Avs scored before the play by play team could even finish talking about Thomson’s first NHL goal, with a brutal defensive lapse that left Cale Makar wide open. As we know, Makar isn’t exactly the type of player you want to give that kind of space to.
Back to Thomson for a moment, because I can’t help myself, this is what he did on his next shift.
Thomson’s next shift after his first career goal. Fantastic defending. I can confidently say that he’s this team’s third best defenseman. pic.twitter.com/fwIrE11NXa— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 23, 2021
With COVID-19 ripping through the Sens, Thomson has taken full advantage of his opportunity and has looked the part of an NHL defender. Over the past few games, I don’t think there are many arguments to make that he hasn’t been Ottawa’s third best defender. It’s a small sample size but you need to keep him in Ottawa until he plays his way off the roster. He’s already giving you more than either Josh Brown or Nikita Zaitsev have all season.
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Right at the end of the first, Ottawa’s other very good right handed defender evened this one up with a bullet from the point.
Despite getting dominated in the first period in shots, the Sens managed to head into the first intermission in a tie game.
The second period was much of the same, with the Avalanche registering the first 18 shots of the period, limiting Ottawa to no shots. Filip Gustavsson was easily the star of the period, being one of only a few reasons Ottawa was able to head into the second intermission still very much in this hockey game. With just under seven minutes left in the frame, Kuemper had to leave the ice due to an equipment malfunction that left him with only one skate blade. The Sens got a bit of luck, getting to face an ice cold Jonas Johansson.
So, naturally, Colorado scored on the next shift, right after a great chance from Thomson, giving the Avs as 3-2 lead.
Just when we thought we’d seen everything, Kuemper returned to his cage and relatively promptly allowed Zach Sanford to send an absolute bullet past him on the glove side.
A couple of neutral zone turnovers and Sanford snipes one to make it 3-3. pic.twitter.com/Pp3lrWtKaB— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) November 23, 2021
The Sens opened up the third period with another minute on the advantage and Josh Norris made no mistake making this a 4-3 game early on.
LET'S GOOO!!!!— Pesky Sickos (@PeskySickos) November 23, 2021
Good things happen when you get pucks on net. Tim Stützle fires a shot, and the picture-perfect rebound makes its way to Josh Norris who buries it.
4-3 #Sens #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/lV6DbUNSfU
While, for the most part, it didn’t feel like Ottawa deserved to be in this one, it was still disappointing to see their nice thing go away very quickly. Makar ripped a shot past Gustavsson for his fifth goal in his last three games to tie things at four.
As the circus continued, Sanford completed what many in the building likely wouldn’t have realized was a hat trick with a nifty bank shot off Kuemper’s head from below the goal line.
Wait, what!?!?— Pesky Sickos (@PeskySickos) November 23, 2021
Excuse me, Zach Sanford!?
Sanford buries this puck off of Kuemper while shooting from behind the goal line. What a way to get the lead back.
5-4 #Sens #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/RNjJ9BZoaw
Halfway through the third, right off the penalty kill, Logan Shaw whiffed on a puck at the blueline, allowing the Avalanche to maintain offensive zone pressure. After a quick give-and-go, Mikko Rantanen buried his seventh of the season to even things up once again.
In heartbreaking fashion, Alex Newhook sealed the deal for the Avalanche with just over a minute left. With the extra attacker, the Avs added one more, handing Ottawa a 7-5 loss.
- Zach Sanford was fantastic in this game, scoring three goals and being an impact player every time he was on the ice. While some feel Sanford started out slow in a Sens uniform, he’s certainly picked up his play with the added opportunity he’s earned in the past few games.
- Yes, Filip Gustavsson let in six goals tonight. Despite that, the Sens wouldn’t have had a chance in this game if it weren’t for Gustavsson - particularly in the second period where he stopped a barrage of shots from the Avs’ offense. If Gus wasn’t as good as he was for the first forty minutes, we wouldn’t have seen five Sens goals tonight.
- Lassi Thomson continued his strong first stint in the NHL, making a case to stick around even when the blueline is back to full strength. Thomson has an assist, another grade A chance and was solid defensively.