When a team is no longer in playoff contention, the best that they can hope for is to do damage to the aspirations of other teams. In true Sicko fashion, the Ottawa Senators have done that again.
With the Winnipeg Jets looking to end a six-game losing streak, Nikita Zaitsev scored the game-winning goal with just 1:13 to play, and the Senators won a game that they likely didn’t deserve to, by a final score of 2-1. Filip Gustavsson was brilliant, turning aside 28 of 29 Winnipeg shots, and helping to kill a total of six penalties. Despite tallying only 18 shots of their own, Zaitsev and Connor Brown provided all the run support necessary to ground the Jets.
The game started off as poorly as it could for Ottawa. Getting outplayed early, hulking Jets defenceman Logan Stanley laid a massive hit on Thomas Chabot, sending him to the locker room favouring his left arm. Chabot would emerge from the tunnel in an attempt to play through the pain, but ultimately could not, and his night was done.
The Senators’ penalty troubles began early, and the second was a minor against Nikita Zaitsev for charging. It would be Ottawa, however, that benefitted from the five-on-four situation. Nick Paul made a tremendous individual effort to storm across the Winnipeg line, and feed Brown for a beautiful shorthanded goal.
That would be all the offence that we saw for the vast majority of the game, though it wasn’t for a lack of effort on the part of the Jets. Ottawa’s parade to the penalty box saw them get peppered with shots, being out-chanced 23-10 through two frames.
As good as Winnipeg was, though, Gustavsson was better, making some absolutely larcenous saves during the second period in particular.
Some of the game’s animosity finally boiled over midway through the third. Josh Brown got into it with Mathieu Perreault, and threw a couple of punches at the Jets forward, before both were sent off for roughing (yes, both).
On the ensuing four-on-four play, Josh Morrissey fired a shot from the point that worked its way past Gustavsson, tying the game at the 9:46 mark.
Both teams traded chances the rest of the way, but it would be the Sens Sickos getting the last laugh. After a mad scramble in front of the net, Drake Batherson fed Zaitsev at the point, and he blasted an absolute howitzer past Laurent Brossoit, giving Ottawa the lead with 1:13 to go.
Winnipeg would attempt to tie the game with a late goalie pull, but it would not be enough, and the Senators dealt them their seventh straight loss. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for a team that is struggling to get — and stay — healthy, all while fighting off the other teams jostling for playoff position in the North division.
- Hanging over the victory is the devastating loss of Chabot. In my mind, the Senators should just shut him down for the rest of the year. There’s nothing to play for, and the risks heavily outweigh the rewards. If this is it, it’s been a great season for Chabot.
- It goes without saying, but Filip Gustavsson is the real deal.
- Nikita Zaitsev’s gamewinner was his fourth as a Senator, and his first that didn’t come on an empty net.
- Alex Formenton really stood out, especially on the penalty kill. I would say he’s cemented himself as a full-time NHLer.
- Playing 20:37 in Chabot’s role, Erik Brannstrom posted a 50% Corsi rating, and 63.41 xG% in all situations. Really impressive night for him, in a difficult situation.
- Tim Stützle had another solid night, finishing with an xG% of 63.17%.
- Artem Zub and Victor Mete saw a huge increase in ice time as well, playing 24:07 and 23:46, respectively.
Up Next: The Senators have their final tilt against the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm EST.