We didn’t get the result we wanted, but my goodness, that was a hell of a hockey game.
Several records were on the line tonight. Connor Brown was one goal away from the Sens’ franchise record for goals in consecutive games, and Jack Campbell was looking to become the first goalie in NHL history to start a season with 11 straight wins - a record that Andrew Hammond somehow does not own. Mostly, though, the Leafs were on a tear, and if there’s one thing I know about the 2021 Ottawa Senators, it’s that they love to ruin things for other teams. This Battle of Ontario game was destined to be weird.
The play was fast-paced and thrilling right from the get-go. Both teams were speeding up and down the ice and getting pucks on net while failing - quite dramatically - to defend their own net. Gotta love the Battle of Ontario!
Most of the heart-stopping chances went to Toronto, but Ottawa’s offensive zone play was structured and certainly held promise. Connor Brown continued to be red-hot, clearly looking to extend his goal streak against his former team. Each goaltender was forced to make a few fantastic saves. The Sens looked like the better team through the first ten minutes, but it was far from a one-sided game, and the first goal ended up going to someone I don’t need to name, because you know exactly which member of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored a goal against the Ottawa Senators. 1-0 Toronto.
He-who-must-not-be-named scored again before anyone had even recovered from that first goal, to hit 30 goals in the season, because of course. 2-0 Toronto.
This was less fun.
Things started to look very bad for the Sens after that. The Leafs hadn’t exactly been bad at the start of the period, but they woke up after those two goals, and it was all our poor defenders could do to keep them contained.
Thankfully, the Senators pulled themselves together a bit more toward the end of the period. Batherson and Stützle came pretty close to putting Ottawa on the board at one point, and the rest of the team kept the momentum going until the buzzer sounded.
Things were looking up going into the second. Ottawa got a few good chances at the start of the frame, but unfortunately their momentum was soon ended when they were awarded an unfortunate powerplay. The patented neutral zone drop pass failed to create anything interesting and the Sens didn’t register so much as a shot on goal. But on the bright side, they didn’t give up a shorthanded goal!
Look. Entering the offensive zone when you have one more player on the ice than your opponent does is difficult. Cut them some slack.
The Leafs very nearly scored again when their guy got back on the ice, but Forsberg stood tall. Each team got a few good looks at the net over the next few minutes, without any success.
Finally, Drake Batherson scored the Sens’ first goal of the night, following up on a nice shot from Tim Stützle. Although the Sens weren’t playing especially well at this point, it was comforting that the streak of not being shut out was still alive. 2-1 Toronto.
Thomas Chabot went to the box shortly after that goal, sending Ottawa to their first penalty kill of the game.
Naturally, they scored a shorthanded goal.
Alex Formenton tied the game on a breakaway. 2-2.
Suddenly, the game was fun again. Sicko energy was in the air. Ottawa killed off the rest of the penalty without too much trouble. You could tell, afterward, that they were ready to end this silly winning streak of Toronto’s. What could possibly be more fun than that?
Somehow, things got even better. Right off a faceoff, Stützle sent an absolute beauty of a shot right into the back of the Toronto net to break his slump. You love to see it! 3-2 Ottawa.
Of course, things couldn’t stay good for too long. The Leafs evened things up again in no time. Say what you will about this game, but it was certainly entertaining. 3-3.
Marner also celebrated that goal like he’d just won the Stanley Cup. Calm down, my dude. You just scored against the 2021 Ottawa Senators to even a game you were winning 2-0. But I guess he has to get those celebrations out of the way now, since he knows his team won’t be winning any big playoff games any time soon.
Things only got weirder after that, and by weirder, I mean worse. A certain hockey player that I will once again refrain from naming - but again, take a wild guess - scored his third of the game to complete the hat trick and put the Leafs ahead once again. Experience the North division! 4-3 Toronto.
I hate it here.
That was the end of an absolutely ridiculous second period. Twenty minutes was absolutely not enough time to recover from whatever that was, or to prepare for what was to come.
The third period brought more of the same, which is to say that neither team showed any interest in tightening up defensively or playing anything that resembles 2021 NHL hockey. Also, the Leafs scored. 5-3 Toronto.
Naturally, that score just could not hold. As I said, this game had strong sicko energy. With about 12 minutes left in the game, Dadonov did a nice wraparound and Connor Brown tapped in his record-breaking seventh goal in seven consecutive games. 5-4 Toronto.
I can’t explain this, but Connor Brown having the record for the longest goal scoring streak in Ottawa Senators history just feels right. That’s such a weird and unexpected stat and you couldn’t expect anything less weird from this franchise. It’ll be a great trivia question for years to come, I’m sure.
Ottawa pulled their goaltender at the end of the game, and unfortunately spent most of that time trying not to give up an empty-netter. They failed, of course, although they held on for much longer than they should have. 6-4 Toronto.
Joe Thornton went to the box right at the end, and only 11 seconds after the empty net goal, Josh Norris scored on the 6-on-4. 6-5 Toronto.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough. The clock ran out and Jack Campbell got his record, but at least we could all reassure ourselves that the Sens had played a hell of a game.
- Jimmy Stü was flying out there. That goal was long overdue, and he got a well-deserved assist on that Batherson goal. He’s such a special player.
- Batherson also had a hell of a game. He and Stützle are something else.
- Shoutout to Connor Brown, the greatest Ottawa Senator of all time. He could have easily had more than one goal tonight.
- I love Thomas Chabot and I believe in him, but man, this was a really rough game for him.
- It was actually a pretty rough game for the concept of defense, in general.