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Game 9 Preview + Hub: Vegas Golden Knights @ Ottawa Senators

Ottawa looks to rebound from a couple of road losses

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

When Pierre Dorion announced at the outset of this season that the rebuild was “over”, the understanding was that the team would be shooting for play-off contention. Were the Ottawa Senators to make a run to the postseason, even the biggest optimists among us would have to admit that there were bound to be some struggles along the way. After a 2-1 start, Ottawa is indeed in the midst of some struggles: 1-4-1 in the last six, and coming off back-to-back road defeats in Chicago and Minnesota. The Sens’ depth up front has been tested with injuries to Shane Pinto and Colin White, while the defense has been garish after the Thomas Chabot-Artem Zub pairing. Yes, there are still plenty of growing pains.

Under normal circumstances, the Vegas Golden Knights would not be the opponent one might choose to bust out of a slump. Fortunately for Ottawa, they are catching Vegas at exactly the right moment: Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Nolan Patrick, and Zach Whitecloud are all out with long-term injuries. Vegas is also coming off a 4-0 trouncing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs and sit at a disappointing 4-5-0 on the season. If the Sens are serious about their play-off aspirations, this is exactly the kind of game they should have.

Here’s how DJ Smith is expected to line them up, with Filip Gustavsson starting in goal:

Game Notes:

  • Nikita Zaitsev has gone pointless in nine games so far and will be a scratch tonight in favour of Nick Holden, who’ll draw in against his former team. Smith has stated that Zaitsev isn’t 100 percent due to a cold, but the head coach also alluded to some on-ice struggles. Logan Shaw will sit tonight as well, as Dylan Gambrell returns to the lineup.
  • Sens legend Evgenii Dadonov returns to Ottawa for the first time. The nostalgia will be heavy in the air as fans reminisce about the thirteen goals he potted in his 55 career games for the Sens.
  • In hockey it’s often a cliché that injuries are just an excuse but in Vegas’ case, it’s hard to look at the line-up they’ll ice tonight and make a fair analysis of what the team is capable of. There are, frankly, just too many injuries.
  • Speaking of too many injuries, one area that’s been particularly affected for Vegas is with the man advantage where the Golden Knights have yet to register a single power play goal.
  • It’s not too often that a goalie stakes his claim to the starting role when giving up five goals but that’s exactly what Filip Gustavsson did on Tuesday night against the Wild. Besides a 15 minute stretch in the second period, the Sens were mostly overrun and Gustavsson’s play was by far the biggest reason the game made it to overtime at all. Now stop me if you’ve heard this before but Matt Murray has a save percentage below .900 to start the year and if he keeps struggling we may be looking at a legitimate goaltending controversy.
  • One of the biggest positives this season has been the work of the power play. The puck movement has been mesmerizing at times, and the 23.3% conversion rate is good enough for 10th overall in efficiency with the man advantage.
  • Puck drop is at 7:00 EDT. You can watch on TSN5/RDS2, or listen on TSN1200

Stats:

Stats are, as always, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

Player Stats

Game 10 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 10 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Category Player # Player #
Goals Josh Norris 6 Alex Killorn 7
Assists Drake Batherson 5 Victor Hedman 9
Points Drake Batherson 11 Steven Stamkos 12
Shots Nick Paul, Thomas Chabot 31 Steven Stamkos 30
Time on Ice/GP Thomas Chabot 27:02 Victor Hedman 25:24

Team Stats

Game 11 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Game 11 Ottawa Senators Tampa Bay Lightning
Category # Rank # Rank
Goals/GP 2.50 25th 3.00 11th
Goals Against/GP 3.5 28th 3.10 23rd
Shots/GP 30.1 20th 30.9 17th
Shots Against/GP 34.4 30th 29.9 11th
Powerplay % 22.6 12th 16.1 23rd
Penalty Kill % 74.1 24th 82.4 14th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA) 45.55 29th 52.19 10th
xGF % (5v5 SVA) 47.38 22nd 52.58 9th