One of the most frustrating things about the Sens’ terrible start to the season has been their inability to close out games, or to steal wins when they maybe didn’t deserve them. They’ve lost while outplaying their opponents plenty of times, and the few times they’ve been outplayed, they’ve lost. The Sens didn’t play especially well tonight, and I’m not entirely sure they deserved a win, but they found a way to win, and that’s nice to see.
It was a bit of a sleepy first period for both teams, but especially for Ottawa. Jeff Skinner kicked things off with a beautiful spinny move that would have put him on highlight reels for years to come had he scored, but thankfully he didn’t and we were spared that embarrassment.
Jacob Larsson went to the box for high-sticking, sending the Sens to a four-minute penalty kill. Mathieu Joseph nearly scored on a shorthanded breakaway, but was stopped and drew a penalty on the play. Nothing came of the 4-on-4, and the Sens killed off the rest of the penalty.
The Sens later got a powerplay of their own, and naturally the Sabres got the best chances of those two minutes. This was really a battle of terrible special teams.
Despite a sleepy start to the game, the Sens scored first, as Austin Watson was left alone in the slot and scored his 50th career goal, with a shot that makes you think “oh yeah, that guy was drafted in the first round.” 1-0 Ottawa.
If at first you don't succeed, try again! #GoSensGo #HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/eX4FYWTMND— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 17, 2022
I counted two truly exciting Sens plays in that period; one of them a great chance for Joseph after the 4-on-4 had expired, and the other was a nice play by DeBrincat toward the end of the period. That was pretty much it.
Joseph took another penalty right at the end of the period, and then Stützle got called for interference, but I’ll forgive him for that one because the Sabres tried to beat up him and he just stood there and I thought it was really funny. This kid loves to piss people off and then act surprised when they actually get pissed off.
The Sens opened the second period with… another high sticking penalty.
Then Tage Thompson scored. 1-1.
Then the Sens took another high sticking penalty.
I don’t even know what to say.
There was a weird sequence during that penalty kill where Sanderson appeared to get hurt in the Sens’ crease and Jeff Skinner fired a puck at him, after the whistle, while he was down, which obviously angered the Sens. The penalty was neutralized, and the Sens got two absolutely heartstopping at 4 on 4, one from Alex DeBrincat and the other from former UND teammates Pinto and Sanderson. The Sabres’ goaltender was hurt soon after that, but stayed in just long enough to let in a goal from Brady Tkachuk. 2-1 Ottawa.
Head on a swivel. Flick of the wrist! #GoSensGo #HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/9AFS37hlQb— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 17, 2022
Comrie leaving with an injury meant that it was finally time for Craig Anderson to get between the pipes in Ottawa for the first time since being traded in 2020. For the first few minutes, it looked like the Sens had finally found their legs, as they put together a bunch of great scoring chances. However, the Sabres soon came back, forcing Forsberg to make some huge stops toward the end of the frame.
The Sens closed out the period with another terrible powerplay, where they couldn’t connect on a pass to save their life. They went into a crucial third period nursing a one goal lead.
Ottawa got the first good chance of the period, and the first powerplay, but naturally couldn’t extend their lead. When the Sabres started putting pressure on them, the script was starting to feel a little too familiar. Something had to give.
Thankfully, this time around the Sens were the next team to score. Alex DeBrincat finally found the back of the net after getting lots of great chances all night. It’s nice to see the goals finally coming for him, although considering how many chances he got tonight, I’m not even sure his shooting percentage has improved that much. He’s just that good. 3-1 Ottawa.
Cat snaps it home! 3-1 #Sens#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/EdJOUDtbBr— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 17, 2022
Giroux took a penalty toward the end of the game, and the Sabres pulled Anderson to go 6 on 4. Forsberg had to make some big stops, but the Sens managed to hold it together, and Tim Stützle got an empty-netter. 4-1 Ottawa.
Tim Stützle seals the deal! #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/iKjsRopWEr— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 17, 2022
- Mathieu Joseph has struggled a bit to start the season, but he looked fantastic tonight. On top of a few good scoring chances, he was solid defensively and even got an assist on DeBrincat’s goal. A great night for him all-around.
- Jake Sanderson has stepped into that #1 defenseman role with no trouble at all. This might have been his best game in the NHL. You never want a guy playing half the game, but it’s good to know that Sanderson can handle the heavy minutes. Hopefully this means Chabot’s workload can finally be reduced once he comes back.
- DeBrincat had tons of chances, as per usual, and it was nice to see him bury one. He’s pretty good!