Hockey Day in Canada 2022. It was obviously much different than in previous years except for the fact that I always find out about it the second I turn on the game.
The Anaheim Ducks were in town to face the Ottawa Senators, with Anaheim coming off of a victory in Montreal and getting 7 of 8 possible points recently. Meanwhile, the Senators had lost their lost game on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout, but it was a night where they deserved a better fate.
A big killer for the Senators this season has been weak goals against, and Anton Forsberg added to that at the 13:41 mark of the first period. Rickard Rakell came around the net with a ton of speed, came to the bottom of the circle and quickly spun around. The shot he took was along the ice and wasn’t very hard, but it sneaked through Forsberg’s pads to frustratingly give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.
Thankfully it didn’t take much longer to get things all even. Lassi Thomson made a strong pass down the ice, and somehow Tyer Ennis was able to knock it down at the blueline. He must’ve wanted to one-up Rakell’s spin-move because this time he did a complete spin-o-rama to score one of the nicest goals this season for the Senators:
The rest of the period was uneventful besides Trevor Zegras showing off his incredible skill and Brady Tkachuk going for a between-the-legs goal.
As the middle frame went on, Ottawa continued to gain momentum and look more and more dangerous. Alex Formenton made a nifty move around a defenseman to get a chance, Egor Sokolov almost scored in close, and Austin Watson had a pretty funny outcome on a breakaway:
Watson dekes himself and almost Gibson in the process. pic.twitter.com/6iVN4Te1gJ— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) January 29, 2022
There had been a bit of bad blood for whatever reason as well, with Adam Gaudette and Max Comtois fighting in the first period, while Josh Brown and former Senator Buddy Robinson fought off the faceoff halfway through the game. In an empty stadium, it seemed like strange timing.
To add to the momentum, the Senators finally got their first powerplay of the game with 4:22 to go in the period. They refused to let up, and there were even more chances, but John Gibson stood tall and kept the Ducks in the game. It was pretty clear that not having Drake Batherson, Josh Norris, and Connor Brown (their three best goal-scorers) hurt their ability to capitalize on their chances. Despite the shots being 29-16 for Ottawa after 40 minutes, the score was just 1-1.
Usually the Senators follow-up a dominant period with a lacklustre one, but they kept pouring on the pressure in the third. Tim Stützle drew Ottawa’s first powerplay of the game 1:20 into the period, giving them a glorious opportunity to take their first lead. They had some great movement and were very close, but again, Gibson was there to halt things.
Then just 22 seconds later, Troy Terry made the Senators pay. At first glance, it looked like another weak goal against, although it appears that the puck may have deflected off Nick Holden’s stick before going in. Either way, it was 2-1 Anaheim despite all the play being in their zone:
Ottawa had a chance to get it tied up right away as Comtois headed to the box for tripping, but the Senators had no finishing ability despite great plays leading up to their shots.
It was quite amazing to see so many of their top players out of their lineup and they were still able to relentlessly attack the Ducks zone. They never held back and it was quite encouraging to see how well they controlled the game. They gave it their best effort, but Gibson was too much for Ottawa to handle, plus some of their shots weren’t good enough. The final score was 2-1, but the final shots were 45-20, indicating that the Senators deserved a much better fate.
- Mark Kastelic made his NHL debut and he had just 6:22 of ice-time. He didn’t stand out too much but he also didn’t make any glaring mistakes. His future is probably as a role player, so expectations shouldn’t be too high. Congratulations to Mark!
- Stützle drew another penalty, which gives him 22 on the season. That sits tied for 4th in the NHL, just four behind Connor McDavid. Having someone who can create penalties like that is a big asset.
- Forsberg stopped 18 of 20 shots, which would have normally been good enough. But on a day where the offense couldn’t convert, he needed to stop at least one of those. It’s unclear if the second one actually deflected, but the first one was simply not good enough
- Adam Gaudette is looking like he could be worth keeping around. He was on for 17 CF and just 4 CA, plus he’s been getting powerplay time with Batherson out. He won’t be a top-6 player, but he can be useful.
- Lassi Thomson had a good game as well, as he’s gaining confidence offensively. He’s not afraid to get up the ice, which is something we haven’t seen much from other Senators defensemen.