After last night’s absolute shitshow against Chicago, the Ottawa Senators flew into Minnesota desperate for a bounceback win. Unfortunately, the odds were stacked against them; Ottawa had lost their last eight games against this team, and they were playing on the second half of a back-to-back, with noted actual NHL defenseman Nick Holden drawing out of the lineup. I guess at the ripe old age of 34, the oldest Ottawa Senator needed a bit of a break. Having now seen how the team plays without him in the lineup, I hope he never takes a break again.
The Sens are a pretty inconsistent team, but they have been somewhat consistent in one area, which is the first period being their best of the game. Even in last night’s awful game against Chicago, they were actually pretty good in the first. The problem is when the game continues and their lack of depth hurts them.
Tonight, they decided to mix things up a bit.
After giving up five shots early on and not getting any of their own, the Sens found themselves chasing the game only a few minutes in. Batherson gave the puck away to Fiala, Josh Brown failed to catch him, and Gus made a huge stop at first but Marcus Foligno scored in the ensuing scramble. 1-0 Minnesota.
The Wild took a 2-0 lead almost immediately afterward, and it was a weird one. Just… watch the replay.
That was also a first NHL goal! Who says the Sens are inconsistent?
DJ Smith called a timeout after that second goal. Less than five minutes into the game. Normal stuff, right?
It’s hard to tell how well that timeout worked, given that Minnesota continued to dominate the game. Eventually, Austin Watson got into a fight, and at 5-on-5 with Watson in the box, the dynamic duo of Nick Paul and Connor Brown teamed up for the Sens’ first goal of the night. 2-1 Minnesota.
Say what you will about the Sens, but they never fail to score exactly one goal.
Unfortunately, the Wild bounced back with another goal of their own, to restore their two goal lead. The Zaitsev-Del Zotto pairing was already having a rough go of things. 3-1 Minnesota.
It was going to be a long night.
Things did not pick up after that. The Sens continued to get hemmed in their own zone - to be fair, it wasn’t just the bottom pairings that did this - and only managed to generate a bit of offense when Chabot and Zub took to the ice. It was brutal.
Sanford took a late penalty, but the penalty kill was surprisingly effective. It was even more effective on the second try, when Zub went to the box for tripping.
With two good penalty kills out of the way, Ottawa went into the second period trailing by two.
We knew things were going to improve the moment the TSN commentators started analyzing the iconic pumpkin carving video on air. This is the content I always want on the broadcast.
Minnesota got a scary chance in the first minute of the second frame, but it was the Sens who scored first, once again cutting the lead in half. As usual, the goal was brought to you by the first line. Norris got the puck to Batherson, who did what Drake Batherson does. 3-2 Minnesota.
The Wild used their coach’s challenge on the play, for some reason. They claimed that when Norris batted the puck out of the air to get it to Batherson, it was a high stick. The challenge was pretty obviously not going to work, and sure enough, it was eventually deemed a good goal. I’d argue that all of Batherson’s are good, in fact. That man has never scored a garbage goal in his life. He is pure skill.
It gets better, though: not only did the goal stand, but Minnesota was given a penalty for delay of game. Oh, how the turn tables.
Guess who scored on the powerplay.
You dare to question Josh Norris’s passing skills?
3-3 and oh, it felt good.
Another Senators powerplay followed, and this was quite possibly the best unsuccessful powerplay I have ever seen. I cannot believe they didn’t score there. Thankfully, they scored right afterward, with the most Chris Tierney of goals.
For those counting at home, that was Tierney’s fifth goal of the season, and his fourth off a body part. If he keeps this up, he’s going to run away with this year’s Andrew Hammond award.
At first, the goal didn’t count, because the ref thought Tierney had punched the puck into the net. Upon further review, however, the goal was allowed. It just bounced off him. That’s how he scores all his goals. Come on, refs.
We were learning so many weird NHL rules tonight. 4-3 Ottawa.
I think this is what the kids call a “session?”
The lead was, unfortunately, short-lived. With Nick Paul in the box for a slightly soft hooking call, Minnesota struck back to tie the game 4-4.
The 2021-22 Ottawa Senators: we’ll put together an epic comeback, but we’ll keep giving you goals just to keep things interesting.
The period ended with another Sens powerplay that was unfortunately interrupted when Tkachuk went to the box. We were tied going into the final twenty minutes.
It almost felt unfair that there was still another twenty minutes of hockey left to play. That second period felt like a game in itself. What weirdness would they bring us in the final frame?
As it turns out, not that much.
The third was a little bit less exciting, at least in terms of goals. Minnesota was definitely the better team, by a long shot. Every Senators defenseman not named Chabot or Zub was awful. Every time the Wild managed to set up in the Ottawa zone, the Sens got hopelessly, hilariously lost. Maybe that’s why they’re called the Wild. The Sens were like that person who got lost in the wilderness and ignored all the calls from rescuers, except in this scenario the rescuers were JBD and Erik Brännström, and DJ Smith and the Pierres were pressing the “end call” button over and over again. Look, what I’m saying is that the defensive zone is dark and scary and the Sens got a little bit lost, but they were trying their best.
You know who has definitely been trying his best lately, but seems to be stuck with the worst luck imaginable? Tim Stützle, who had this happen to him:
That’s a new one… the refs are taking their antics to a new level. pic.twitter.com/ecSUJFk2HJ— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 3, 2021
Anyway, Ottawa got a powerplay at one point, but it didn’t amount to much, and it ended with a fight. Minnesota continued to dominate, but Gustavsson stood tall. Eventually, this happened:
Ennius evidently hurt after this play. Stays on the bench for now. pic.twitter.com/VEmiJUdc7i— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 3, 2021
It’s hard to fault the opposing players on that one, but it looked brutal. I really hope Ennis gets a proper medical evaluation and doesn’t end up too seriously hurt. You never want to see that kind of thing happen.
The only other notable thing to occur in that period was an absolutely incredible Stützle scoring chance that I still cannot believe didn’t go in the net:
Tim Stützle was THIS close. pic.twitter.com/oaehQPK2Rx— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 3, 2021
Seriously, who do we have to sacrifice to undo this curse? Is there a spell I can cast? Tell me what to do. I’ll do it.
The two teams remained tied after regulation. The Sens put together a great effort to win it in overtime with noted superstar defenseman Michael Del Zotto on the ice, but in a shocking turn of events, Del Zotto made a bad play at one end of the ice, then failed to defend a 2-on-1 on the other side, and the winning goal was scored by - who else? Kirill Kaprizov.
It’s really inspiring that he can still score goals at his age.
- It might seem a bit weird to give a shoutout to Gustavsson when he gave up 4 goals, but he made some really big stops tonight, especially in the third.
- That defense, though? The second and third pairings were both brutal. Just inexcusable.
- Tim Stützle had a fantastic game, even though he still has yet to score, somehow.
- I’m also going to give a shoutout to Sanford, who continues to surpass my admittedly very low expectations.