For the last week, the Sens have held the Canucks’ playoff chances in their hands. In a fitting conclusion to the thrilling saga that has been the North Division, the race for the final playoff spot in the division came down to who could defeat the last-place Ottawa Senators. Montreal had pulled off a few wins but still been thoroughly embarrassed. Calgary had failed miserably, and as a result was only hanging on by a thread. Now, it was Vancouver’s turn.
I have to admit that, even though I was rooting for anyone but Montreal to take that spot, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch teams skate dejectedly off the ice, their playoff chances all but ruined, as “sicko mode” plays in the arena.
Even if we are helping the Habs, I do love ruining things for other teams.
The Sens started the game about as well as they could have. Pinto’s line provided a bit of speed and energy on their first shift, and Victor Mete showed off his offensive skills by getting past both Vancouver defensemen and burying a beautiful wrist shot, for the first goal of the game and his first as an Ottawa Senator. Thanks, Montreal! Formenton also recorded his first NHL assist on the play. 1-0 Ottawa.
It was clear from that point on that this game was going to be an exciting one. Vancouver had the advantage in possession and shots, but Thatcher Demko faced the most dangerous chances. Pinto’s line continued to stand out, as did the top line of Norris, Tkachuk and Batherson. Tkachuk got into a bit of a skirmish behind the Vancouver net and had to spend a bit of time in the box, but neither team got a powerplay out of the fight.
The first real penalty of the game came a few minutes later, and it went to rookie Shane Pinto, who got called for boarding. He joined his captain in the sin bin, and I really wish there were mics in the penalty box, because I would love to know what Brady said to him.
The Sens killed of the penalty without too much difficulty, and got a few good scoring chances right after Pinto came out of the box. Stützle got robbed by Demko, because clearly this kid is under some kind of curse that keeps his shots from going in the net.
Ottawa got their first powerplay opportunity right at the end of the period, after a few minutes of not much happening. They failed to score with the man advantage, unfortunately, only registering one shot. The buzzer sounded soon after that, and the Sens went into the first intermission ahead by 1 goal.
The Senators started the second period the same way they had started the first: with a goal. Chabot did some great work along the blueline, and Tierney tapped in the shot. 2-0 Ottawa.
The announcer wasn’t even done announcing the goal when Tkachuk and Norris teamed up to extend the Sens’ lead. The best part of that goal was that their former best friend, Quinn Hughes, had a perfect view from right in front of his goalie. He looked characteristically sad on the bench afterward. 3-0 Ottawa.
With that goal, Norris moved into second in rookie goal scoring. He probably doesn’t have much of a shot at beating Kaprisov for the Calder, but it’s still nice to see.
Ottawa did not let up after those two goals. They completely dominated the first five minutes of the second period, while the Canucks certainly looked like a team recovering from a respiratory illness.
Vancouver picked up the pace about five minutes in, though, responding with a goal of their own. 3-1 Ottawa.
Their momentum was short lived, however. Only a few seconds after the Canucks goal, Thomas Chabot restored the Sens’ 3-goal lead. 4-1 Ottawa.
Then, just as I was writing up that fourth Ottawa goal, the Canucks responded yet again, taking advantage of an empty net when Högberg fumbled the puck. 4-2 Ottawa.
I promise I’m not skipping over anything here. The goals happened that quickly. It was fun!
The two worst teams in the division, you say?
When things had settled down again, the Sens were back to where they had started the period: ahead by two goals, and looking like the better team, but not by a huge margin.
The rest of the period wasn’t uneventful, but it was certainly less eventful than the start had been. Some events happened. Colin White channeled Jason Spezza with an egregious no-look drop pass, for instance. That was certainly an event.
With just under four minutes left in the frame, Brady Tkachuk rushed down the ice and scored a beauty of a goal - his 16th of the season. With that goal, he earned himself a Gordie Howe hat trick. 5-2 Ottawa.
An incredibly eventful second period came to an end, with the Sens now comfortably ahead by three goals.
Tkachuk came very close to scoring again using the same move just a few minutes into the final frame. While the Sens were comfortably ahead in both shots and goals, the Canucks were not giving up, and the play looked mostly even.
Ottawa got another powerplay opportunity about four minutes in, but failed to extend their lead. I was going to make a joke here about how the Sens were just being considerate by not scoring any more goals, knowing so well what it’s like to be embarrassed in this way, but who am I kidding? These are the 2021 Ottawa Senators. They are not kind or gentlemanly or considerate, and they certainly do not have any mercy.
Shane Pinto almost scored his first NHL goal soon after that, but just barely missed the net. The Sens got yet another powerplay, but this one was just as unsuccessful as the last.
Nick Paul got into some trouble by getting into a fight and taking his helmet off - presumably because he wanted to show off his incredible hair. When the dust had settled, the Canucks ended up with a powerplay and Nick Paul had a nice time hanging out with Brady Tkachuk in the penalty box.
You know, I made some jokes about the Sens’ powerplay being a bit listless, but the Canucks’ powerplay was really on another level. Ottawa got several shorthanded chances - certainly more chances than Vancouver did in those two minutes. Are they okay?
(We all know the answer to that question. I’m sorry for being mean, Canucks. I know you’re just doing the best you can.)
Down by three goals, the Canucks pulled out all the stops by pulling their goalie incredibly early in the third period - Guy Boucher style. Demko returned for a bit after the Sens came close to scoring again. Ottawa made sure not to spend too much time in their own zone after that. Once the Canucks did manage to set up in the Ottawa zone with an extra attacker, Colin White sent the puck down the ice to make the score 6-2 Ottawa.
Being absolute sickos, the Sens kept the pressure on for the rest of the game, almost scoring on several occasions. Unfortunately, though, it was the Canucks that got the last goal of the game - a weird one that Högberg can’t be too happy about, but that ultimately didn’t mean very much. 6-3 Ottawa.
With that win, the Sens moved out of last in the division. Yes, they only did it because the Canucks have played way fewer games than anyone else, but it’s still incredibly funny. Man, it sure has been fun ruining other team’s playoff chances.
- Shane Pinto almost scored his first NHL goal tonight, and his line was very noticeable all game.
- Brady Tkachuk spent a pretty substantial portion of this game in the penalty box, but when he was on the ice, he was amazing.
- Victor Mete had a great game overall, and of course I have to mention him here because of that goal. What a fantastic acquisition. I can’t imagine how incompetent you’d have to be as an organization to let this guy leave for free.
Up next: the Senators have a chance to make me very happy with a win over the Montreal Canadiens this Saturday, May 1st, at 7pm Eastern.