Coming into tonight’s game in Newark, New Jersey, the Ottawa Senators were looking to do something they hadn’t done May 8th, 2021: win three games in a row. They were only able to do that three times last season, and haven’t even gotten to four in a row since March 8th, 2017 (!), when they actually won two more for six total. So to say they haven’t been on a hot streak in a while is a massive understatement.
The wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche weren’t the prettiest, but they were quite entertaining, and the Senators were hoping to take that momentum into tonight’s game. The bad news is that the Devils immediately took the wind out of their sails. Damon Severson scored just 35 seconds in on a floating wrist-shot from the point that Anton Forsberg seemingly didn’t see.
For most of the rest of the first period, it seemed like classic early-2000s Devils vs. Senators where New Jersey gives up no chances but also doesn’t press either. In fact, 8:25 into the game, the shots were just 1-1. Fun! Ottawa was able to get a bit more pressure the rest of the period, but it still wasn’t enough to tie the game in the first 20 minutes.
Luckily for the Senators, they were able to break through against Mackenzie Blackwood in the next frame. Connor Brown thought he was the one who had tied the game, but incidental contact from Nick Holden immediately disallowed the goal. It was unfortunate, but it was the correct call and there was no challenge on the play. However, not long after, Drake Batherson got one past Blackwood and it counted that time. He was left all on his own and there was no way he was missing:
Despite life being breathed into the game, New Jersey would counter just one minute later. PK Subban’s shot from the point got deflected by Nathan Bastian in front, which was a great finish and difficult for Forsberg to stop.
The Senators weren’t giving up there, and although they were getting out-chanced, Brady Tkachuk made the most of his best chance of the game. Holden was able to barely keep the puck in the zone, who dumped it behind the net where Batherson was. Batherson knew exactly what he had to do with it, and his quick pass went perfectly to Tkachuk in front of the net. It was textbook tic-tac-toe that tied the game at 2 after 40 minutes:
5⃣ goals (and 5⃣ assists) in 8⃣ games for Brady Tkachuk. pic.twitter.com/ok8FlkBYP7— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 7, 2021
The 3rd period wasn’t too eventful, although Tyler Ennis did get called for the strangest roughing penalty I’ve ever seen where all he did was hit Ryan Graves and Graves got mad for some reason. Both teams seemed content with sending the game to overtime, which was a strategy that normally doesn’t work for Ottawa considering how hard it has been for them to keep the puck out of their net.
Nevertheless, it was 2-2 heading into overtime.
Both teams played it quite safe in overtime as well, making sure they weren’t attacking without being ready for the counter-attack as well. The Devils had a few good chances and Thomas Chabot and Tim Stützle almost got burned, but nothing came of it. So with the game still tied, they headed to a shootout.
The Senators began first, with Stützle scoring on a perfectly placed shot on Blackwood. Tomas Tatar would counter for the Devils, but Josh Norris came in with blazing speed to get the lead back at 2-1:
Jesper Bratt was up next for New Jersey and couldn't convert, meaning Batherson had a chance to be the hero for the night. He missed on the high glove side, giving Andreas Johnsson some life with their third shot. However, Forsberg was up to the task and his pad save gave Ottawa the shootout win by a final score of 3-2.
This is now the Senators first 3-game winning streak of the season, and they look for their first 4-game streak since Match 9th 2017 (!) tomorrow.
- Brady Tkachuk had another two points tonight after three on Saturday. He now has 10 points in his last 8 games and is on pace for 71 points in 79 games, which would be very much welcomed progress.
- Drake Batherson also looked fantastic tonight, as that first line usually does. He’s now up to 20 points in 18 games.
- Forsberg had a solid game tonight, stopping 22/24 shots and 2/3 in the shootout. Expect Filip Gustavsson to play tomorrow but Forsberg will still be getting a good amount of starts.
- Thomas Chabot remains goal-less, but he had a team-high 7 shot attempts and was flying every shift. He’s the straw that stirs the drink and looks better than ever.
- The line with Zach Sanford, Dylan Gambrell, and Austin Watson continues to look as if they’re down a man every shift. They were on for just 4 shot attempts and 19 against, and it’s clear that they cannot be trusted even in a depth role right now.
- Overall it’s nice to see that the team is actually capable of winning some games. We knew they had it in them, but they kept failing to win these close games. Wins cure everything, and hopefully the vibes in the room are more positive now.
The Senators head back home to Ottawa tomorrow as they play the struggling New York Islanders at 7:00 EST.