The All-Star break is over and the Sens are back baby, with 5 games this week. They started off this busy week against a slower-paced opponent in the New Jersey Devils. Without retracing their whole history, how is it that the Devils have completely changed their franchise and coaches and most players but still remain one of the most boring teams in the league?
With capacity restrictions still in place, the Senators welcomed 500 fans back into the arena. While it was only 500 people it was still nice to see folks in the stands — particularly celebrating the goals!
The other big of exciting news about this game was the return of some of injured heroes such as Connor Brown and to a lesser extent, Nikita Zaitsev. Not to be overly harsh on Zaitsev, but at the 11 minute mark he took a blatant boarding penalty that was absolutely unnecessary. To make matters worse, a few seconds into the power play, Nico Hischier deflected the puck into the net to make it 1-0 Devils.
The Sens didn’t look deflated by that outcome and were in fact rewarded for their efforts just a few minutes later. Paul tied the game with less than 5 minutes to go, giving the Sens some confidence going into the first intermission. Next time you find yourself asking if Nick Paul is valuable to the team, respond with a yes.
It also wouldn’t be a Sens game if we didn’t have an Alex Formenton breakaway that somehow results in no scoring chance. Tonight was no different:
Formenton sprung on a break but doesn't get the chance off. Little surprised that reach wasn't called tbh pic.twitter.com/26FzNARhTK— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) February 8, 2022
The Sens were on their back foot for most of the second period, and Matt Murray seemed to be the only Senator who was ready to play. It seemed the Sens lost focus and there was some risk things could get away from them without Murray’s repeated intervention.
It took 8 minutes into the second period before the Sens even got a shot on net but when they did it was a SAFETY FIRST NICK HOLDEN GOAL to make it 2-1. Maybe energized by how that felt, the Gaudette crystals started working their magic as he scored a quick one 9 seconds later to make it 3-1. Yes, NINE SECONDS later.
The Devils were stunned, they were Sens’ed. Did they not know about that?
The Devils continued to push to make something positive out of this period but Matt Murray was stellar throughout to help the Sens keep their lead. The Devils outshot the Sens 13-6 in the second period alone.
Murray’s heroics continued into the third period with saves like this one:
The third period didn’t bring much excitement but the Devils did continue to push. With 8 minutes left in the period, Connor Brown reminded us why we missed him so much as he cemented the lead with a 4-1 goal.
The Sens won by quite the margin but the game wasn’t lopsided at all. If anything, this could be a case of the score line flattering the team a bit. Murray kept them in it and made sure they were able to stay in the lead. He was easily the game’s first star. There were some stretches where Ottawa was outplayed but they made up for it with timely scoring. All in all, they did everything they needed to win the game and, sometimes, that’s the only thing that matters.