We’re now firmly in the part of the season where the Ottawa Senators don’t have a lot to gain from wins, at least if you’re looking at the standings. Everyone knows that they’re going to finish last in the division, the playoffs are almost completely out of reach, and I don’t think anyone in the fanbase is especially upset about it. The Sens are one of the only teams in the league already out of the playoff race, and that means it’s a whole lot of fun to mess with the teams still in the race. This is basically our brand right now.
The Calgary Flames went into this game desperately clinging to their last little bit of hope for a playoff spot, already in a funk and in dire need of a win to set things right. Past versions of the Ottawa Senators may have laid down and let the Flames walk all over them, serving as a confidence booster and a free spot on a bingo card. But not this one. No, this version of the Sens is all about causing problems for your team, even if it doesn’t exactly help us either.
Just don’t think too hard about who Calgary was trying to catch.
Ottawa had a good start to the game, forcing the Flames’ goaltender to make a few good stops before most fans had even finished eating dinner and sat down to watch. The play was high-paced and fun, and it was clear that the Sens were pushing for a goal right from the start - a nice change from what we’ve gotten used to. The Flames picked up the pace about seven minutes in, but Gustavsson turned them away.
Unfortunately, the Sens went to the penalty kill just under halfway through the period, when Colin White went to the box for boarding. The Flames failed to record a single shot on goal on the powerplay, but kept the momentum going after the two minutes had expired, with a few dangerous shots on goal.
There was a lot more back and forth after that, both teams looking amazing but failing to score despite several good chances. There were hardly any whistles at all during the first period. It’s like they were trying to embarrass the NHL by ending the game as soon as possible.
Dadonov got a breakaway with about three minutes left in the period, and while Dadonov didn’t score on the play, Brady Tkachuk did what he does best, by which I mean he drew an interference penalty while crashing into the net. The Senators headed to their first powerplay of the game. Unfortunately, the powerplay yielded no results, and the period ended tied at 0, only 30 minutes after puck drop.
The second period started with an interesting off-ice development: Kyle Dubas was in the building, presumably because he’s such a big Sens fan that he had to take the opportunity to attend a game for free.
Anyways, both teams started the second as well as they had ended the first. The play was fast and exciting, interrupted by very few whistles, but once again, neither team quite managed to get on the board.
Halfway through the game, Calgary got called for tripping. Ottawa actually spent quite a lot of time with the net empty, because we hate whistles in this game. The Sens failed to score with the empty net or on the powerplay, though, and very nearly gave up a shorthanded goal right at the end.
Just as it was starting to feel like a goal would never be scored, Mark Giordano got past Gustavsson to make the score 1-0 Calgary.
Despite the best efforts of the Norris line, Ottawa did not manage to even the score before the end of the second frame. Calgary for a powerplay right at the end, when Nikita Zaitsev went off for interference. The Flames did not score on the powerplay, though, at the Sens went into the second intermission down by just one goal.
The Senators started the third period on the penalty kill. Gustavsson was forced to make a really nice save early on, but Ottawa killed off the penalty.
Josh Norris evened the score just under five minutes in, one-timing an excellent pass from behind the net from Evgenii Dadonov. 1-1.
I don’t know what was up with these two teams tonight, but they were still buzzing, even in the third. Ottawa was now buzzing a lot more than Calgary was, though. At one point, Zub stayed on long enough that the broadcast put up a clock for his shift, which is really all I ever wanted out of this season. A Julia Robillard sighting immediately preceded an extended period of straight up dominance from the Senators, which ultimately resulted in a Tierney goal to put the Sens ahead. The goal came off a great rebound from a Chabot shot from the point, and it was well deserved after that amazing shift - probably the Sens’ best even-strength shift in recent memory. 2-1 Ottawa.
Ottawa went to the powerplay right at the end of the game when Tim Stützle was cross-checked in the neck.
Stutzle takes a cross-check.. pic.twitter.com/aDR392k7Pm— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) March 24, 2021
Unfortunately, the powerplay ended early when Brady Tkachuk got called for interference. Not even the fun kind, either: I would’ve tolerated a penalty if he was, say, beating up the person who had just cross-checked his best friend in the neck, but alas, this was just a silly penalty. It was bad timing, and the refs had missed a few other things before that, but thankfully Nikita Zaitsev stopped the Flames from starting a comeback with an empty net goal to make the score 3-1 Ottawa.
The final buzzer sounded, “SICKO MODE” played at the Canadian Tire Centre while the Flames walked out in shame, and the Ottawa Senators continued to absolutely own the Calgary Flames for reasons I still do not understand.
- This was a full team effort, but don’t downplay the contributions of Filip Gustavsson. He was really solid in net tonight, and earned a well-deserve first star of the game. The future of the Sens’ goaltending might actually be looking pretty bright.
- Chris Tierney has been playing with some pretty good linemates lately, but I did think he held his own tonight, and obviously he scored the GWG.
- Nikita Zaitsev was noticeable all night, and it was nice to see him get the empty netter at the end.
- Zub is quickly replacing Mark Stone as the player I always throw on these lists because it’s always a safe bet that he had a good game. He is such a treat to watch.