When you think about it, it makes perfect sense that this was the game the Sens finally won.
We’re reaching a point in the season where we writers have to be strategic about which games we offer to recap. I’m still going to watch every game, but there is a difference between watching the game with the option of doing something else while you watch if things go badly, and watching knowing that you’ll have to take note of and describe everything that happens.
I’ll admit I didn’t think that far ahead this week.
Second half of a back-to-back, on the road, against one of the best teams in the league after getting destroyed by one of the worst teams in the league?
Yeah, sure, whatever. Sign me up.
Did I make this win happen? I wouldn’t go that far. Really, this just felt like a classic Sens game: right when you think you’ve mentally checked out, they pull you back in.
In typical Ottawa Senators fashion, this team kicked off a game that they were expected to lose handily with a surprising amount of jump to their step. Whereas last night’s team couldn’t connect on any passes or skate with anything resembling “hustle,” tonight’s team looked like they actually cared. It was nice to see!
And it paid off, too. Alex Formenton struck first for the Sens, actually finishing a breakaway attempt for the first time in his life. I can only assume we have Micaela Gaudette and her crystals to thank for this broken curse, and I hope Formenton follows in Connor Brown’s footsteps to go on a weird goalscoring streak this season. 1-0 Ottawa.
I really like the wording on that Sens tweet, because it’s technically true. Speed and finish is a lethal skillset. It is, however, not a skillset that Alex Formenton has been known to possess. He’s more of a speed-only guy,
The Sens hung with the Canes for the rest of the period, and that’s all you can really ask for. The shots ended up being very lopsided in Carolina’s favour, especially toward the end of the frame, but honestly it didn’t look quite that bad.
Carolina got the first powerplay of the game, after Austin Watson took a pointless penalty. It may be worth noting that Lassi Thomson made a great defensive move on the same play and managed not to get a penalty.
Carolina did not score on the powerplay. Unfortunately, they got another opportunity right at the end of the period, when Stützle went to the box for a high stick. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow they didn’t score. Ottawa still held the lead, but it was starting to look more than a little bit precarious.
Although the second period kicked off with more dangerous powerplay opportunities for the Hurricanes, the play was much more even. It felt like the kind of game that Ottawa could potentially win, but that had the potential to go off the rails very quickly with a Carolina goal.
Even without a goal, the game started slipping off the rails about halfway through. The Canes’ scoring chances got more and more dangerous, with the Sens’ defense holding on by a thread.
Connor Brown hit the goalpost on arguably the best scoring chance of the period. Ottawa was still being hilariously outshot, but they were at least still in the game, which is more than can be said of their last few efforts.
A weak penalty to Tkachuk put the Sens back on the penalty kill, and I hope every single Ottawa Senator gave Forsberg a massive hug after the way he played that kill. I don’t want to talk about it.
The Sens got a lucky break toward the end of the Hurricanes powerplay, however. Carolina got called for two many men on the ice, which ended the powerplay and gave Ottawa a brief man advantage.
The Sens’ powerplay was laughably ineffective. Their play at even strength at the end of the frame was bad too. They were winning, but they were determined to do it in the worst way possible.
After the period ended, Chabot accidentally stayed out too long and this happened:
Thomas Chabot stayed out during the intermission and ultimately disrupted the novice game. pic.twitter.com/L8XshDe7S9— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 3, 2021
To be fair, can you really blame him for confusing those kids for the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators?
Then during an intermission interview Brady Tkachuk declared that the Sens were going to go “balls to the walls.”
So, did they go balls to the walls?
Sure, I guess you could say that.
Ottawa got an early chance to extend their lead, as Watson drew a tripping penalty. Despite some good chances, the puck stayed out of the net.
The Sens got several good chances after that, looking like the better team as they tried to defend the lead. It was really nice to see them clearly pushing for another goal instead of sitting back and waiting; clearly they’ve learned from all those games where they gave up the winning goal right at the end.
Sure enough, Ottawa doubled the lead less than halfway into the period. It was Formenton’s second of the night, although this one was not nearly as impressive, as the Canes basically scored on themselves. The goal was initially called off for goaltender interference, but DJ Smith challenged it. I’ll be honest: I would not have used a challenge on that one. But DJ went for it, and it turns out he was right; Formenton was tripped, and that’s why he fell into the goaltender. 2-0 Ottawa.
We were officially on Alex Formenton Hat Trick Watch.
Unfortunately, Carolina got a chance to strike back when Zub went to the penalty box for holding. Apparently the refs didn’t get the memo that Zub is perfect and has never done anything wrong.
Forsberg put on a show on the penalty kill, but it wasn’t enough, as Carolina found the back of the net to ruin what would have been an amazing shutout. 2-1 Ottawa.
Hey, remember that thing I said about this game having the potential to go flying off the rails as soon as Carolina got one?
The Canes scored again just a few minutes later to tie it. 2-2.
DJ Smith called a timeout, and it worked! Norris scored on the next shift with a bit of help from Batherson to take back the lead. 3-2 Ottawa.
Balls to the walls, you say?
I really did not expect to care as much about this game as I did by the end. That tying goal was just crushing - to see these players come so close to snapping the winning streak only to have it end the same way too many games have this season… that hurt, and I felt awful for them. But that third Sens goal sure did feel good.
With just over three minutes left, the Senators went back to the powerplay. It was a very listless powerplay, one where Ottawa barely even looked like they were trying to score, but they didn’t give up a shorthanded goal, so there’s that.
Ottawa held on until the final buzzer, to win their first game in I don’t even know how long.
Look. Here’s the thing. The Ottawa Senators hockey club did not deserve to win that game, in the sense that they were badly outshot, out-chanced, and out-played. Two of their three goals were literally just the Hurricanes scoring on themselves. I know that. But how many times this season have they outplayed their opponent only to lose by one goal? Or played a pretty even game but not quite managed to pull off the win? Or been outplayed but still kept the score close until the last minute? What I’m saying is that it’s been frustrating to see them almost win but not win every other night, and I don’t care how unsustainable this kind of play is. That was a gutsy effort and a great bounceback and I’m happy to see them finally get in the win column. In a way, they did deserve this win.
- DJ Smith wanted a goalie to steal a win? Well, he got that. Forsberg was just incredible tonight. Forget hugs; everyone on this team owes him a million dollars.
- Alex Formenton had a great bounceback game after a rough night against Vancouver, with two goals.
- Norris and Batherson were making things happen offensively all night, and of course scored the winning goal.
- It’s very nice to have Tyler Ennis back in the lineup.