Sometimes, the bounces just don’t go your way.
Expectations are pretty low for a Senators roster missing its best forward, top goal scorer, and #1 defenseman, among many, many others. With the playoffs out of the picture, just staying in games is a victory, and they more than did that tonight.
And they got a point. Not a terrible outcome, all things considered.
DJ Smith said before the game that it would be important for the Sens to get off to a better start tonight than they did last week. They achieved that goal, keeping pace with the Bruins during the first period and registering the bulk of the scoring chances.
Things started to pick up about halfway through the first, when Charlie McAvay laid a massive hit on Connor Brown. It initially looked like there might be a penalty on the play, but it didn’t end up happening after all. The Sens got a lucky break of their own shortly thereafter when Zaitsev hauled down Taylor Hall to stop a breakaway and send Hall crashing into Anton Forsberg. No penalty called on that one either.
It was, overall, a very uneventful opening frame, so it seemed appropriate that it would end with no score. Considering that the Bruins are strongest in the first period, I’ll take it!
We saw more big hits and nice forechecks from the Sens to start the second, but unfortunately Boston got on the board first. Forsberg had no chance on a weird deflection by Jake DeBrusk. 1-0 Boston.
It didn’t take long for Tim Stützle to answer for the Sens, finishing off a great play that he started, with that ridiculous sharp-angle shot that is becoming one of his signature moves. 1-1.
We got our first penalties of the game when the physicality finally reached a boiling point. A Bruins player caught Parker Kelly with a high and late hit, and Kelly and Austin Watson both took issue with it. Ottawa ended up with a powerplay, but didn’t do anything with it.
Toward the end of the frame, Mete and Foligno were assigned offsetting minor penalties and Ottawa absolutely dominated the 4-on-4 from start to finish. They did not score, though, and Boston came back with a vengeance with both players back out of the box. When Forsberg failed to cover the puck, the Bruins found the back of the net to make the score 2-1 Boston.
Tough luck on that one.
A messy sequence early in the third resulted in another powerplay for Ottawa. This one was just as unsuccessful as every other one they’ve had since the Batherson injury, although in this case it was goaltending that made the difference. Ennis was robbed twice right at the end of the man advantage.
Play was mostly even from that point on. The Sens did an admirable job of keeping pace with the Bruins but didn’t play with a lot of urgency, and that made for a remarkably boring game considering that the Senators were trailing by one.
Just as it was starting to look like Ottawa would quietly surrender this one, Connor Brown found Nick Holden in the slot, and the veteran defenseman buried the equalizer. 2-2.
The Bruins got a few scary chances right at the end of regulation, including one by former Senator Curtis Lazar, but luckily for the Sens, Lazar continued to be incapable of scoring goals at the Canadian Tire Centre. We were headed to overtime.
Ottawa got possession early on and had a few great looks at the net, including one almost-goal by - who else? - Tim Stützle. However, Pastrnak ultimately won the game for the Bruins. 3-2 Boston.
- What is there left to say about Tim Stützle? In his 100th NHL game, he showed off every aspect of his game that makes him so special. He was solid defensively, he elevated the players around him even though the lines were in a blender, and of course he showed off that laser beam of a shot. He even threw a few hits. He’s a special player, and we’re lucky to have him.
- I won’t lie: before Chabot’s injury, I suspected Nick Holden was benefitting from Zub Effects a bit more than a lot of people realized, but he is proving me wrong. He’s been incredibly good as of late, and that continued in this game.
- I also thought the Brännström-Zub pairing had a very strong game tonight, after a rough one on Thursday. They were on the ice for that great 4-on-4 shift, and generally had really good possession numbers all night long. Brännström even played over 27 minutes. It’s nice to see the defense stepping up in Chabot’s absence.