Who could have possibly seen this coming?
When you watch this team a lot, you learn to recognize patterns, enough that you can sometimes predict how each game will go. After two games without a goal and an especially lazy effort on Saturday afternoon, it would have been easy to predict a listless performance from the Sens on this second afternoon game in two days. Especially since, before this game, the Capitals were on the list of teams the Sens had not beaten since 2017 (it’s a long list).
But, you see, Capitals fans have been getting nervous about the state of their team recently. Not nervous enough to worry about the Capitals’ ability to defeat the Ottawa Senators, but nervous in a more general sense. Sens fans know that these were the perfect conditions for a sens’ing.
I called it, at least.
Right off the first faceoff, it was clear that we were getting a different version of the Senators this afternoon. They had energy, somehow, even though they had looked absolutely gassed yesterday. An early powerplay did nothing, but they finally broke their scoring drought on their first penalty kill of the game.
Of course, it was Alex Formenton who put the Sens on the board, with Connor Brown getting his 200th career point with an assist on the play. 1-0 Ottawa.
Nick Paul actually got a breakaway on the same penalty kill, but couldn’t convert. After a few minutes of the Sens mostly controlling the play, it was Adam Gaudette who doubled Ottawa’s lead, with an absolutely beautiful goal. 2-0 Ottawa.
It’s been really nice to see Gaudette find his game after a rough time of it in the NHL. He’s not going to get a better opportunity to grab a spot in the top six than this, and that goal was a great example of the things he can do.
The Caps put pressure on the Sens in the final minute of the period, but Anton Forsberg kept them off the scoreboard. As seconds wound down, Alex Formenton went to the penalty box, where he would start the second period.
Not for long, though. Alex Ovechkin got set up in his office and sent his signature slapshot to the Sens’ net. Forsberg stopped that one, but Backstrom picked up the rebound to make the score 2-1 Ottawa.
You could practically see the game starting to slip through the Sens’ fingers after that first goal. Although Kastelic almost scored for Ottawa, the momentum had really shifted in Washington’s favour. About five minutes in, Anton Forsberg robbed Tom Wilson so dramatically that Wilson actually thought he’d scored on the play.
Just when you think it's a goal, Anton Forsberg proves you wrong. pic.twitter.com/IqFkJnfgtW— NHL (@NHL) February 13, 2022
The second period was absolutely wild from start to finish. Connor Brown hit the post on a breakaway, Ovechkin missed the net, and the puck just kept going up and down the ice. The Capitals were mostly controlling the play, but the Senators were aggressive with the puck, getting in a few sneaky scoring chances to keep things even.
With about eight minutes left in the period, John Carlson hit Brady Tkachuk in the head in front of the Capitals’ goal. Brady was slow to get up from the ice, and immediately went down the hall to the dressing room.
Orlov got called for tripping while the Sens were on the powerplay, giving the Sens an opportunity at 5-on-3.
Chabot hit the post on the two-player advantage, Stützle created several chances, and the Sens’ powerplay generally looked better than it has in a while. It’s worth noting that Stützle also got pushed around on the powerplay and looked shaken up. He finished his shift and didn’t miss any time, but I would not be surprised if he was a bit banged up.
The Sens had all the momentum once again, but a late cross checking penalty to Zub gave the Capitals a chance to get back in it. Forsberg was easily the best player on that penalty kill (I’m starting to think it’s not a good thing when your best penalty killers take penalties).
As soon as the penalty expired, the captain came back on the ice after missing a few shifts due to concussion protocol, and promptly buried a loose puck to make the score 3-1 Ottawa.
Tkachuk got another good chance late in the game, but couldn’t finish it before time expired. A thrilling end to a thrilling second period.
With the way this team has played in the third period all season, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to see them collapse here. To their credit, though, they had lots of jump to start the third, putting pucks on net and keeping the Capitals from mounting a comeback.
Emotions were running high with both teams playing a physical game. When Tom Wilson threw a massive hit on Thomas Chabot, both Nick Paul and Brady Tkachuk took issue with it. Ultimately, it was Paul who dropped the gloves with Wilson, and went to the box for five minutes.
Nick Paul stands up for Thomas Chabot. pic.twitter.com/FvqMF7ncdj— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) February 13, 2022
With just under ten minutes left in the game, Connor Brown picked up a pass from Brady Tkachuk and put together a great individual effort to further extend the lead. 4-1 Ottawa.
Yet another Sens player went down after a big hit late in the game, with the Sens on the powerplay. This time it was Alex Formenton, and he did not return to the game. It wasn’t a direct hit to the head, but his head did snap back and he looked shaken up on the play.
Hathaway catches Formenton up high. Looked shoulder-to-shoulder. pic.twitter.com/Im36WQKsX0— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) February 13, 2022
Washington put the pressure on in the final minutes, pulling their goalie while on the powerplay, but it wasn’t enough.
You are not alone. 31 in 32 NHL teams experience getting Sens'd, don't be afraid to ask for help. pic.twitter.com/Bf8Jn3V0mk— The (Un)Athletic (@The_Un_Athletic) February 13, 2022
It’s worth noting that neither Chabot nor Formenton returned to the game after their respective big hits. Chabot looked like he might have gotten the wind knocked out of him, and considering how much he’s played lately and the margin by which the team was winning the game, it might have made sense to keep him out even if he wasn’t hurt. So far, the only update we have is DJ Smith saying that they were both kept out for “precautionary reasons.”
- We got the good version of Anton Forsberg tonight. I wouldn’t say he stole the game, but he made massive saves at key moments. The Capitals have a deadly offense, and Forsberg was the main reason the Sens were able to weather the storm.
- For the skaters, it was actually a pretty solid team game, so it’s hard to pick out individual standout performances. I do think the Tkachuk-Paul-Brown line deserves some love, though.
- Zub also deserves a shoutout for handling Ovechkin like a pro.