Heading into tonight’s extremely late 10:30 EST game against the San Jose Sharks, the Ottawa Senators had gone 1-7-1 in their last 9 games. They had lost their first game (7-5 to Colorado on Monday) since having games postponed due to covid and were looking to finally get some more wins under their belt while facing Erik Karlsson and the Sharks for the second time this season.
One of the game’s first events was a tilt between Austin Watson and Jacob Middleton that sort of came out of nowhere. It didn’t lead to an immediate bump for the Senators though, as Matt Nieto scored the first goal 7:16 into the game. Chris Tierney was unable to keep the puck in, and a bad pinch from Lassi Thomson led to an open lane for Nieto to rip it past Matt Murray.
Ottawa didn’t let that get to them though, as they played quite well in the first frame.
Later in the period, Thomas Chabot began a wonderful play by rushing down the wing into the offensive zone. He wouldn’t even end up with an assist on a goal scored by Josh Norris shortly after, but he was the one to start it all. Tkachuk’s shot from the point couldn’t be corralled by James Reimer, and Norris was in the perfect spot to bury the rebound:
After 20 minutes, it was 1-1 and Ottawa actually had 25 shot attempts to San Jose’s 12 at 5v5.
Despite the good period, Tomas Hertl would almost immediately give the Sharks the lead. 47 seconds into the 2nd, he scored short-side on the left-wing on a shot that was incredibly good but it was at an angle that Murray should’ve had. Ottawa had two glorious opportunities in the next several minutes to tie things up with back-to-back powerplays, but to no avail.
With over 6 minutes left in the period, Alex Formenton took a bad slashing penalty, which had the potential to put Ottawa down by two. However, Noah Gregor would also go to the box for tripping right after. Brady Tkachuk then channelled his inner-Chris Tierney by scoring a goal in front of the net from a Chabot pass that deflected off his foot:
Because the goal was scored at 4-on-4, Ottawa still had time on the powerplay. The passing on their first powerplay unit was incredible, just like it usually has been this season. Josh Norris hit one of his hardest one-timers ever but it make a loud “ping” off the crossbar. Even after Gregor came back onto the ice, the Senators kept control of the puck in the offensive zone and they were able to get some close chances.
Chabot continued his solid game by making a pass to Connor Brown in front of the net and Reimer completely misjudged where the puck was going. That made it easy for Brown to score on an empty net, all of a sudden giving Ottawa the 3-2 lead:
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to hold the lead heading into the 3rd period. Tkachuk took a high-sticking penalty, and Nick “0 points in 18 games” Bonino would be the one to squeak the puck past Murray with 31 seconds left. Still though, Ottawa was in a decent position with one period remaining.
The 3rd period continued to be an entertaining affair. Austin Watson took a boarding penalty against Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and although the hit was definitely worthy of boarding, it wasn’t dirty. However, Rudolfs Balcers and other Sharks didn’t like it very much, leading to a bit of a skirmish. Despite that, Ottawa was once again the only penalized team.
Connor Brown, Chris Tierney, and Alex Formenton all had close chances to take the lead, but Reimer was there every time. With 8:42 left in the game, our old friend Rudolfs Balcers made a wicked no-look pass to the slot right where Timo Meier was. Meier wasted no time in getting the puck off his stick and Murray had no chance on the top-corner goal. Being down 4-3 late, the Senators needed to show some resiliency to get the two points.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to finish any of their chances, and the Sharks added two late empty-net goals to make it a 6-3 final. The 5th goal was avoidable as Logan Couture stripped Chabot of the puck at Ottawa’s blueline, which hardly gave them a chance with the extra attacker. It was another entertaining game for the Senators that was within reach, but ultimately they failed to secure a win.
With that loss, they move to a paltry 4-12-1, which is dead last in the NHL.
- Tim Stützle showed he can play at centre. Maybe he won’t always play that well, but the experiment for playing centre is off to a very good start. He was first on the team in xGF% at 77.74%—let’s keep him there.
- Filip Gustavsson wasn’t good last game against the Colorado Avalanche last game either, but Murray was too inconsistent again. The second and third goals were stoppable, and his SV% is now down to .890% in 6 games.
- Thomas Chabot only has 8 assists in 17 games, but he’s been incredible at both ends of the ice, and it showed on two of their goals. More points will come. His giveaway at the end wasn’t good, but it didn’t matter anyway.
- I really want Tkachuk to reign it in sometimes and not take so many penalties, but two of his penalties tonight were a joke. He got the only roughing penalty in a scrum where two Senators were in a headlock. And he got a weak slashing penalty on this play that happens in front of the net 20 times per game:
Softest slash I’ve ever seen. pic.twitter.com/bv8CyWJQgC— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 25, 2021
So I can’t be mad at him for those.
- Victor Mete looked solid out there playing with Nikita Zaitsev. He’s at his best when he’s able to get up in the offense.
- Connor Brown seems to be getting into more of a groove, which Ottawa desperately needs.