A win over the 2022-23 Arizona Coyotes shouldn’t be something to be proud of, and yet this one kind of was.
We’ve spent years watching this team get outplayed by better teams and then play down to teams they should be able to beat. Coming off two electrifying wins over the two teams they might actually have a chance of overtaking in the playoff race this year, this game felt like a bit of a trap for the Ottawa Senators. Instead, they were dominant all night, absolutely crushing their opponents by every measure. I’m not used to this team having good underlying numbers. It’s kind of weird.
The Sens had their foot on the gas right from the first drop of the puck, looking exactly like the team we saw during the last 40 minutes on Thursday night. Stützle was stopped right on the doorstep before a minute of play had even passed, and the whole team was basically playing around with the hapless Coyotes.
As expected, it hardly took any time for Ottawa to find the back of the net. Zub made an incredible play down low to get the puck to the slot, and Pinto scored his fourth goal in as many games. 1-0 Ottawa.
It took less than two minutes for the Sens to double their lead. DeBrincat did some incredible work in the corner to get the puck to Jake Sanderson, and the rookie defenseman nearly got his first NHL goal, but it was tipped in front by Josh Norris, for his first goal of the season. Everyone in the top 6 now has at least one goal, so it’s good to know we won’t have a repeat of last year’s debacle when Stützle didn’t score for ages. 2-0 Ottawa.
Anton Forsberg finally got some work to do on the penalty kill, then a return to even strength brought more good chances as the Sens continued their absolute dismantling of the NHL’s worst team. Is beating Arizona something to be proud of? Not really. Is it still nice to see this team get into a groove and play the way they should be able to? Absolutely.
Pinto almost scored his second of the game during a brief 4 on 4, but was denied by the Arizona goaltender. I say the 4 on 4 was short-lived because our old friend Josh Brown just couldn’t help but continue to bully Erik Brännström. Was it not enough to spend a whole season stealing his roster spot? Just leave him alone.
The powerplay yielded no results, and the Coyotes managed to stave off the absolutely lethal Senators offense for the rest of the period. The Sens went back to the locker room with a healthy two-goal lead.
The Sens easily could have scored five goals in that first period, so the two goal lead felt pretty secure at this point. They made it look positively easy in that amazing first period, so all they had to do was keep that up. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. The Coyotes got on the board early, and in typical Sens fashion it was a first NHL goal. Some things never change. 2-1 Ottawa.
A powerplay provided the Sens with a chance to take back their lead, and it did not go to waste. The first unit did its thing, and the captain continued his run of strong play, making the score 3-1 Ottawa.
The lead would not hold, though, as Arizona scored while Tkachuk’s goal was being announced. 3-2 Ottawa.
The Sens picked themselves up a little bit after that, registering several good chances toward the middle of the period despite failing to score again. Thomas Chabot had some of the team’s best chances, continuing a run of very strong play over the last few games. He was basically a high danger scoring chance machine every time he stepped onto the ice, and I can hardly believe none of them turned into goals.
The Sens continued to dominate, but the Coyotes got just enough scoring chances to keep things interesting, and we went into the second intermission with Ottawa hanging on to a one-goal lead that really should have been more than one goal.
The Sens got off to a bit of a rocky start in the third, allowing a few Coyotes chances. The score was already far closer than it needed to be, so a run of bad luck could have quickly turned this into a very frustrating loss. The Senators of old might have let the game get away from them, but this team wasn’t going to let that happen. The fourth line pulled through early in the third, with Kastelic throwing it to the net and Watson providing a screen. 4-2 Ottawa.
Tyler Motte scored almost immediately after the Kastelic goal, to make the score 5-2 Ottawa.
Unfortunately, the scariest and perhaps most significant moment of the game followed, when Josh Norris hurt himself taking a faceoff. It looked uncomfortably similar to Pinto’s shoulder injury from early last year, and given Norris’s history with exactly that type of injury, it’s concerning to say the least. The centreman did not return to the game, and we’re still waiting for an update on his status.
Here's the Norris injury. pic.twitter.com/S6TFc0GGWu— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) October 22, 2022
Naturally, Brady Tkachuk saw that someone needed to inject life back into the game and went for it, avenging his best friend with an absolutely beautiful breakaway goal. Not a bad way to get your 200th NHL point. 6-2 Ottawa.
Sitting at two goals in the game and with plenty of time to finish off the hat trick, Tkachuk tried - and failed once again - to pull off the between-the-legs move that has become his white whale. I’m not even kidding when I say that I think Brady’s inability to pull of his brother’s signature move is the funniest ongoing Ottawa Senators storyline. I need a running tally of how many times he’s whiffed on it, maybe displayed in the CTC like Washington’s Ovechkin goal tally. He only started trying it last season, but he has to be approaching ten failed attempts, right? He also tried it at the All-Star game and NHL media day, both times unsuccessfully. Will his attempts/60 go up this season? Will he ever score using that move? It’s so funny that I kind of want to see how long this can go on.
Knowing him, he’ll probably pull it off in, like, triple overtime to eliminate the Leafs in the first round or something.
Anyways, while I was distracted thinking about this, the Sens got a late powerplay and everyone tried to set up the captain for the hat trick goal. It didn’t happen, and the score held, but it’s hard to complain about 6 goals as a team.
- I’ve been a Chabot-Zub truther since last season, and this game was a perfect example of why. They were so dominant as a pairing every time they were on the ice. Zub really blossoms offensively when he’s playing with Chabot, and Chabot’s defensive game is stronger when he has Zub with him - they’re just so well suited to each other.
- The pairing was great, but I just have to give an extra shoutout to Chabot. He was everywhere tonight - creating chances from the point and from right in front of the Arizona net. I think playing with Zub and having Sanderson around to carry some of the load defensively has really allowed him to thrive in all three zones. It’s great to see.
- Brady Tkachuk has been absolutely unreal all season, and that continued tonight. It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for him to finally break out and become the offensive powerhouse we know he can be (because we’ve seen what his brother can do). He showed off great hands with that breakaway goal, and generally was making things happen all game.
- Shane Pinto has also had a fantastic start to the season, and another great game tonight. He ended up taking Norris’s spot between DeBrincat and Giroux during the third period, and looked good there. It sucks to see a top player go down, but it’s at least reassuring to know that there are other options ready to step up. Pinto certainly looks like he can play in the top six if it comes down to it. The Sens haven’t had that kind of depth in a very long time.
- It feels weird to highlight the goaltender when the skaters have been playing so well, but Anton Forsberg actually made some excellent stops tonight. It’s not uncommon for goaltenders who are used to facing a lot of shots to struggle once they have less to do, so it’s nice to see that that hasn’t been the case for Forsberg at all.