Coming into tonight’s game in Winnipeg, the Ottawa Senators had played four solid games in a row despite only winning one of them. With losses of 2-1, 3-1, and 3-2 and solid possession numbers though, I think most fans were happy with their recent results. Tonight’s game against the Jets was similar in that they easily won the possession battle, 70-48.
Early on, you could tell that the Senators came to play. They were all over Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets, with a goal seeming imminent within the first five minutes. Glorious chances from Josh Norris, Colin White, Chris Tierney, and Brady Tkachuk all went by the wayside, adding to their frustrations. The Jets hardly had any pressure on the Senators that period and the 5v5 shot attempts that period were 26-9 for Ottawa.
It felt similar to the last few games where they had been the better team but were still snakebitten. Nevertheless, there was some hope for the rest of the game.
Things became frustrating once the second period came around, as Paul Stastny opened the scoring just 8 seconds in. Matt Murray wasn’t able to corral the puck in the trapezoid and Mason Appleton took advantage by pressuring him and throwing it out to an uncontested Stastny. You could tell that the momentum had immediately shifted.
Then former fan favourite Dylan DeMelo got in on the action, which just made things worse. People had been showing old clips of DeMelo when he did video work with Craig Medaglia and the Senators, and seeing his shot get tipped in by Nikolaj Ehlers to make it 2-0 just made me miss his presence in Ottawa. Sigh, what could’ve been...
At that point, you could see where the rest of the game was heading. Ottawa has only come back to win once this year, and that was a 1-0 first period deficit, plus with their lack of scoring recently, it was hard to believe a win was in the cards. While on the powerplay with 27 seconds left in the second period, a wide-open Blake Wheeler essentially put the dagger in, as a 3-0 score seemed insurmountable. Chris Tierney was almost able to clear the puck with a semi-interception, but the Jets kept it in and the penalty kill was exploited.
After 40 minutes of play, Matt Murray left the game after apparently awkwardly colliding with Nikita Zaitsev near the end of the period. That meant Marcus Hogberg came in again, and...it was not pretty.
He allowed two goals on 11 shots, and the first goal was similar to so many that he has allowed so far where he is swimming on the ice and can’t seem to get into a proper position:
I'm not sure what happened from last year to this year but Hogberg just isn't looking like an NHL goalie. 4-0 Jets. pic.twitter.com/hiR4okNAaS— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) February 12, 2021
He would allow another goal on a Neal Pionk wraparound with 6:15 to go in the game, and it was just another sad game to watch in regards to Hogberg. I think he has NHL talent, but he’s legitimately had one of the weakest 7-game stretches that I’ve ever seen, and I have to believe that a lot of it is in his head now.
Josh Norris was able to break Connor Hellebuyck’s shutout after the Jets made it 4-0, and I think his subdued celebration says it all:
As I mentioned, Pionk would make it 5-1 just two minutes after Norris’ goal, and that was that for the game: a 5-1 final for Winnipeg. The total shots ended up being 42-26 for Ottawa, and the shot attempts were 70-48, so it’s not as if they were terrible tonight. However, the missed golden opportunities in the first period clearly came back to bite them, plus the goaltending (as usual) needed to be better. It wasn’t the worst loss, and it’s encouraging that they’re somehow winning the possession battle a lot more recently.
But at the end of the day, they didn’t get the job done and all of a sudden they’ve lost four in a row after coming off that feel-good win in Montreal on Friday.
- Before the game, it was announced that Artem Zub was out of the lineup due to an inconclusive COVID test (which has since been confirmed as negative), and Josh Brown came into the lineup instead. While they wouldn’t have won with Zub in for Brown, it certainly makes a difference not having him or Erik Brannstrom in there.
- Hopefully Matt Murray won’t be out long, but if he is, we may see Filip Gustavsson make his NHL debut. However, Joey Daccord would certainly be the preferred option by all:
If Murray is out for any length of time, Filip Gustavsson is the only option for Saturday. Not 100% but I think Joey Daccord would have to quarantine if he joined the team in Manitoba. Can meet the team in Toronto Sunday. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 12, 2021
- Drake Batherson is the most snakebitten Senator, and he added to that tonight by having a team-high 7 shot attempts plus 3 high-danger chances.
- Alex Galchenyuk played a team-low 8:49 tonight. DJ Smith clearly doesn’t trust him, so I can’t imagine him playing many games this season.
- Erik Gudbranson (!?) led the team in corsi with 31 CF and just 11 CA (73.81%). Interestingly enough, the only two players below 50 CF% tonight were Josh Brown and Galchenyuk.
- The Senators have scored just 10 goals in the past 6 games, which is unacceptable. However, they have been extremely unlucky so that will get better. I’d love to see guys like Logan Brown, Alex Formenton, and Vitaly Abramov get a shot in order to inject some energy into the lineup.
The Senators will face off against the Jets in Winnipeg once again, this time on Saturday at 3:00 pm EST.