After a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in which they spent the majority of the time on defence, the Ottawa Senators returned home to face the Vegas Golden Knights, determined to throw pucks at the net. No matter how much of their own defence they had to sacrifice in the process.
This strategy *almost* worked out, but they lost 5-4 in what was looking like the end of all of our collective sanity. Allow me to elaborate.
If there’s one player on the Ottawa Senators I feel bad for, it’s Thomas Chabot. The poor guy has been relied on to play north of 25 minutes a night, and you just know there’s a lot of wear and tear from having to carry his club. And perhaps that culminated in what we saw here:
Mark Stone scoring in Ottawa? Some things never change. pic.twitter.com/Ycx8UQzPGw— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 3, 2022
That’s former Senator Mark Stone, by the way. Wonderful. Maybe Thomas was dreaming of his 50-point season from a few years ago and just threw the puck to Stone on habit?
If there’s one player on the Vegas Golden Knights I feel bad for, it’s none of them. But the one I feel the least good for, is Logan Thompson. The poor guy was called upon last year for some fantastic goaltending down the stretch, only for the team’s offensive stars to dry up and cost them a playoff spot. You just know there’s a lot of wear and tear from having to carry his club. And perhaps that culminated in what we saw here:
So after that gift exchange, it’s a tie game. And the mirror match continued, with both teams drawing penalties in short order. First, with Mark Kastelic in the box for holding, William Karlsson made a nice move on the rush to beat Jake Sanderson before finding Reilly Smith for the go-ahead goal.
Ottawa had a chance to tie up the game with former Senator Mike Amadio serving a too many men penalty, but Jake Sanderson and Derick Brassard’s pinball attempt deflected off Shane Pinto’s skate, hit the post, and crawled across the goal line. Horizontally, not vertically, in case that wasn’t clear.
Things would begin to unravel from there, as even though Ottawa finished the period with 16 shots on goal, or in other words, one more than what they had all of the last game, the trend of allowing late-period goals continued. Sanderson made his second major effort of the night, by first mishandling a bouncing puck, and then being late in picking up Zack Whitecloud, who beat Forsberg to make it 3-1 VGK.
The start of the second period gave us more of the same, as Vegas scored on another power-play to make it 4-1. The goal was fortunately called back due to it being offside, however.
Immediately, I began to wonder if it would only delay the inevitable, and when the team killed the remainder of the penalty and created a power-play of their own, my fears were quashed for a second.
Only for a second, though.
William Carrier, professional pickpocketer. pic.twitter.com/I6FwiXaXBk— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 4, 2022
After giving up a shorthanded goal, and another at even strength off of horrific turnovers by members of your top six, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?
With the game at 5-1, and Cam Talbot in net for the first time with his new team, the Senators finally began their pushback, letting us know that they haven’t given up on D.J. Smith just yet. They had been outshooting and out-chancing the Golden Knights throughout the game, and Thompson was making several fantastic stops in response.
First, with around five-and-a-half to go in the period, Claude Giroux scores his second of the night right after the end of a Sens’ power-play.
Claude Giroux scores his 2nd of the night!— Pesky Sickos (@PeskySickos) November 4, 2022
I think I love Jake Sanderson along the wall there. That PP unit was doing very well with Sanderson there and Brannstrom on the back. Nice one here in the 2nd period.
5-2 #VGK #Sens #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/YtXYjO7l4F
It’s a shame, because thanks to the team’s decision to put on a circus each time they’re in their own end, they’re only back to where they were at the end of their previous PP. However, they weren’t finished.
Four minutes after the 5-2 goal, Nikita Zaitsev made the best pass of his career to spring Tkachuk on a 2-on-1, and Stützle put the loose puck into the open net.
Look, it’s 5-3 now! Even though they’re back to square one, they gained some valuable momentum going into the intermission. Which certainly helped them in the third period.
After that Stützle gaffe in the second, it would take two goals from him to make up it, and so the madlad went ahead and got another one. 2:32 into the frame, he took the puck from Brett Howden and finished a nasty give-and-go play with Tkachuk to bring the Senators within a single goal.
Things got a bit dicey from there, as around halfway through the period, Zaitsev took a delay of game penalty with Tkachuk already in the box for slashing.
Zaitsev is called for using his hand to play the puck into the crease. Costly penalty. pic.twitter.com/z81uwuOTqX— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) November 4, 2022
C’mon, Zaitsev. How are you going to make a bank pass like that for your first assist of the season, and then cover the puck in front of your goalie? I was going to point out in the Game Notes of this recap that you were doing well tonight, but now I don’t think I legally can.
Fortunately, Cam Talbot was up to the task of keeping the Senators within a goal by making several key stops. He didn’t have much to do in the time he saw, but he was a perfect 13-for-13 tonight.
From there it was a standard D.J. Smith game, with the team failing to score with the net empty. Some may criticize his decision to bring out Derick Brassard as the extra attacker instead of Alex Debrincat, and you know what? I agree completely. After all, the game-winning goal went came off of DeBrincat’s stick, am I right? *shrugs* The Senators lose their fourth straight game by a 5-4 score while outshooting Vegas 46-32.
- Moral victories mean so little when you’re on a growing losing streak. That said, the Senators through 10 games rank 11th league-wide both in 5-on-5 Corsi For % and 5-on-5 Expected Goals For %, according to NaturalStatTrick. Not to mention, they have a positive goal differential both overall and at even strength. These stats don’t tell the whole story, as even though they allowed fewer chances than they generated tonight, they defeated themselves by handing three freebies to the Golden Knights. No excuses there. But generally, these stats paint an accurate picture of how often a team has the puck, and their record will regress to reflect those stats. Hockey’s a sport full of chaos, especially in the offensive zones, so controlling how much you have the puck is half the battle.
- It took 10 games but we finally saw some struggles from Jake Sanderson. Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if he can establish himself as a defenceman that barely makes the kinds of errors we saw tonight. If we consider that he, along with Thomas Chabot, Tim Stützle, and Alex DeBrincat all contributed directly to goals against, while being very good players overall, that’s encouraging since the odds of these mistakes repeating themselves in future games are actually very low.
- Another reason to be fair to the Senators, they have had a very tough schedule through ten games. Several of the next eight games are against teams they should have a decent shot at beating, starting with the Philadelphia Flyers, on Saturday, Nov. 5th, with a 7:00 PM EST puck drop.