It was a milestone game for the Ottawa Senators. According to TSN, tonight’s matchup against the Sabres marked the first time since February 2020 that the Ottawa Senators had been favoured to win a professional hockey game.
Naturally, they lost.
What was that thing Connor McDavid said after he got sens’d? About how some teams find ways to lose? If there’s one thing the Ottawa Senators do really well, it’s finding ways to lose against very bad teams.
The boys were crispy in the first period, to borrow a phrase from Drake Batherson. They didn’t always have possession, but they did get the bulk of the dangerous scoring chances. Formenton missed on another breakaway, Brännström made a beautiful pass, and Zub got a great shot on net. The Sens didn’t look amazing, but they did look like they were finally facing a team on their level.
Unfortunately, it was the Sabres who scored first. I’m not the best judge of goaltending but uhhhhh that was not a good goal for Forsberg to let in. 1-0 Buffalo.
Dylan Cozens scores a veryyy weak goal and it's 1-0. Just can't be giving those up at the NHL level. pic.twitter.com/6yIR6af9lS— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) January 19, 2022
The next exciting thing to happen was a massive hit by Tkachuk behind the Sabres’ net. The Sabres took issue with it, and after a brief fight, Ottawa ended up on the powerplay with both players in the box for fighting.
Brady Tkachuk lays the BOOM and then wins the fight. pic.twitter.com/KsWeyPZZ0K— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) January 19, 2022
Naturally, the powerplay failed to create anything. The Sens seem determined to prove my theory that the first unit can’t score unless all five of the regular guys are on the ice, because it is powered by friendship.
The Sabres got a powerplay of their own later in the period. This one ended with Formenton getting tripped on a breakaway. Somehow, Formenton wasn’t awarded a penalty shot on the play, but he did neutralize the powerplay. No goals for the rest of the period, though.
Ottawa started the second period with a ton of energy. After a few fantastic shifts for each line, the Sens got unlucky as Stützle went to the box on a pretty weak tripping call.
The Sens killed off the penalty, and then continued to absolutely dominate the game at even strength. When they went to the powerplay, we all knew they were about to make something happen. Sure enough, Drake Batherson tied the game with an absolutely filthy move right in front of the net. 1-1.
Another Sens powerplay followed very soon after that goal, when Stützle was tripped, but the Sens did not score on that one. They continued to control the pace of the game, though, looking like the more talented team on the ice for the first time in I don’t even know how long. Is this how other teams feel when they play Ottawa? Interesting.
The Sabres put a bit of pressure on the Sens in the second half of the period, but Forsberg stood tall, and the Sens continued to get the bulk of the scoring chances. Ottawa very nearly took the lead in the final minute, but the ECHL goaltender in net for the Sabres turned them away.
It was an uneventful start to the third, as the Sabres’ netminder continued to stop everything the Sens threw at him and to be honest neither team got that much going offensively.
About ten minutes in, the Sabres scored after a strange and very frustrating series of events. Erik Brännström threw a big hit and ended up at the bottom of a pile-up, with everyone on the ice joining the scrum. Everyone, that is, except Mark Jankowski and Josh Brown, who both realized that the whistle hadn’t sounded yet. Jankowski got the puck and beat Forsberg for the go-ahead goal. I would say that he also beat Josh Brown, but given the way Brown played it, that would be giving way too much credit to the Sabres player. 2-1 Buffalo.
Absolute joke of an officiating crew. All night.— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) January 19, 2022
Brännström is jumped after a clean hit, bench brawl ensues and the play continues. Just incredible how these are professional referees. pic.twitter.com/SMEg0ZzZHP
I don’t understand either.
There was still a decent amount of time left in the game, but the Sens just couldn’t get the equalizer, even with a late powerplay and a minute with an empty net. The Sabres put the nail in the coffin with an empty-netter. 3-1 Buffalo.
Tim Stützle tossing his twig at the official (unintentionally but funny). pic.twitter.com/QQqapXCEq7— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) January 19, 2022
Same, Timmy. Same.
- Erik Brännström had himself one hell of a game - possibly the best of his NHL career. We know Brännström can carry the puck and create offense, and he sure did that in this game, but clearly his time in Belleville has helped him work on the aspects of his game that needed improvement. Tonight, he was winning puck battles, he was playing a physical game, he was making smart defensive plays and shutting down opposition forwards, and yes, he was making fantastic passes. Just an excellent all-around game from the young defenseman.
- I also thought Tim Stützle and Alex Formenton were especially noticeable, even if they didn’t get on the scoresheet. Timmy is a one-man breakout machine, and if Formenton ever figures out how to score on a breakaway, he’ll be unstoppable.