The Ottawa Senators had some swagger recently.
They came into tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks on a three-game winning streak, including two shutouts, with all the games coming against different teams. Saturday night was a great chance to give the team their first four-game winning streak since March 8th, 2017...it had been a long time.
Things got off to a strange start before the puck even dropped, as the projected starter Anton Forsberg injured himself during warmups, so Matt Murray was forced into action instead. Murray had played four very good games in a row since returning from injury, so there was hope that he could make it five in a row.
Murray and the Senators didn’t get off to the best start though, as the Canucks would take a 1-0 lead just 1:43 into the game. Erik Brännström turned the puck over in the defensive zone corner, but Colin White had a chance to bail him out. Instead, White flipped the puck to Nate Schmidt at the point, who rifled him a fluttering puck that Murray couldn’t get a good read on.
After some talk on Twitter about White needing to play better, he quickly redeemed himself on a weird goal with 11:28 left in the period:
It wasn’t exactly a pretty one, but it made up for the previous giveaway.
Shortly after, Brännström of all people ended up fighting our old pal Jayce Hawryluk for...some good old frustration it seems. It was the first career fight for both of them, and you could tell:
I think that could hopefully help him get into DJ’s good books, although Brännström didn’t play that well overall. Ottawa had a few powerplay chances in the period, but the score remained 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The 2nd period was more of an adventure, as Murray would take a tripping penalty, which is not something you see every day. However, he also appeared to hurt himself on the play and...had to leave the game. So if you can keep track, that’s both Forsberg and Murray injured on the same night:
Because of that unknown injury, Marcus Högberg entered the net for the first time since April 7th. He’s had some awful luck this year, and his most recent appearance didn’t get off to a good start. He came in to begin the penalty kill, and Brock Boeser scored a top corner goal that nobody was going to stop. Högberg was being screened in front as well, making it impossible for him to have any chance while the Canucks took a 2-1 lead.
The Senators would be given some glorious opportunities shortly after, as Quinn Hughes and Jake Virtanen would take back-to-back penalties, with the latter being a double-minor. However, they weren’t able to muster anything besides some chances on the periphery, which was a wasted chance to get back into the game.
Alex Formenton then tried to make up for the lack of powerplay production, as he blew past the Canucks defense and although he got a shot off on the breakaway, Tyler Myers slashed him and the referee decided to award him a penalty shot. It wasn’t exactly the call I expected, but you’ll take it of course:
Alex Formenton gets a penalty shot but is denied by Holtby. pic.twitter.com/ZSQrVPYyKQ— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) April 25, 2021
Sadly, Formenton didn’t do very much on the penalty shot and Braden Holtby made the stop. So the Canucks had been giving the Senators every opportunity to not only tie the game, but take the lead, yet Ottawa was unable to do so. Before the period ended, White took a slapshot to the face from Thomas Chabot, which was quite a scary scene. Thankfully he had his visor to slightly protect him (and would later return) because otherwise, he could have done some serious damage to his eye. Nevertheless, he had to leave the game. After two periods, it was 2-1 Vancouver.
Early in the third period, Ottawa continued to get some chances but they were growing more frustrated with the lack of success. Formenton took an ill-advised interference penalty, and then halfway through the period, both Artem Zub and Brännström took penalties on the same play to give the Canucks a 5-on-3. Despite the lack of discipline, Vancouver couldn’t do very much with their man advantages, keeping Ottawa in the game.
And thanks to those penalty kills, the Senators would finally take advantage of being down by just one goal. Who else would be scoring a big goal for Ottawa? None other than Evgenii Dadonov:
It was a strange shot that Holtby couldn’t handle, but Ottawa was happy with it nonetheless with just 8:08 to play. However, that happiness from tying the game wouldn’t last long. It seemed as if things were finally going to change the rest of the way, but less than two minutes later, Tanner Pearson would give the Canucks their lead back on a short-side shot that Högberg probably should’ve had.
The back-and-forth 3rd period would continue, with Ottawa being given a chance to tie it up thanks to a JT Miller hooking penalty. A lack of organization on the powerplay doomed them though, as the Canucks held onto their 3-2 lead. Considering their solid attack throughout the night, I expected quite the push to finish the game, but that was not the case. Miller would add a 4th goal into the empty net in the final minute to make it 4-2, which was enough to seal the deal.
A solid effort tonight in Vancouver, but not enough to get the win.
- As I’m writing this, the only thing we know about Murray is that he left with a lower-body injury. If he’s injured for a while here, that’s a massive disappointment considering he was on a roll over the past 4+ games. There are only 8 games left, so he can’t miss much time if he wants to play again.
- According to the team, Artem Anisimov was dressed as the emergency backup if Högberg also got injured. That would’ve been the funniest thing in a long time honestly:
I asked Colin White what the scouting report is on shooting against Artem Anisimov.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) April 25, 2021
"Anywhere, I would think," he said with a laugh.
"Arty came down and dressed up and who knows, maybe if he had come in it would have been like last year in Toronto when the goalie came in."
- What a strange night for White—we can call it the Colin White hat-trick now:
Colin White with the Colin White Hat-trick (Mistake, Goal, Injury)— Frank Senators (@sleepenbaker) April 25, 2021
- The Senators played another solid game overall, which is encouraging. They were the better team and had an expected goal share of 57.46%. A lack of finish is the only reason they lost.
- Considering the result tonight, I wonder if this means Jacob Bernard-Docker will play the next game instead of Josh Brown.
- Dadonov only scores big goals. He has just 13 goals in 48 games, but six of them have come in the 3rd period, and one was in overtime. At least he’s making his production count.
- Victor Mete had an astounding team-high 75 CF% (21 for, 7 against) and 92.82 xGF%. I’m liking his game in Ottawa. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Josh Brown was obviously also high in xGF% at 91.88% since the two of them played together.
- Högberg stopped 18 of 20 shots, which is a .900 SV%. That’s better than his other games obviously, but not that great. We may be seeing the end of his tenure in Ottawa down the stretch.
The Senators will continue to play the Canucks for two more games, but the next match will be on Monday in Ottawa this time (7:00 EDT start time).