We were so close to an all-time sens’ing.
It was no secret that the Sens have been dealing with an… interesting illness lately, with Chabot and Zaitsev having missed the last game and yesterday’s practice having been canceled as the flu spread through the team. D.J. Smith warned that a lot of guys were not at 100%, and against the two-time defending cup champs, this had the potential to be an incredibly weird game.
And it was, in many ways. It just wasn’t the kind of weird that ended with the Sens completely embarrassing their opponent.
Whatever. It was fun.
The game started off about as well as it could have, with Tyler Ennis redirecting a Chabot shot from the point just over a minute into the game. 1-0 Ottawa.
It only took a few more minutes for Zach Sanford to double the Sens’ lead, sending a pretty weak shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy. Clearly, the Lightning thought they could avoid being sens’d by starting their #1 goaltender. They should have known better. 2-0 Ottawa.
It should be noted that, at this point, the Lightning were down 2-0 and had yet to register a shot on goal.
Unfortunately - and unsurprisingly - the Lightning struck back before we could start to feel good about this unexpected lead. Murray had no chance on that one, as Kucherov made the first pairing look silly. I’m hearing this team is “good?” 2-1 Ottawa.
Kucherov with a disgusting move and the lead is cut to 2-1. pic.twitter.com/DagGcv4jYU— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) March 2, 2022
About halfway through the period (yes, this all happened in the first 10 minutes), Brady Tkachuk got into a shoving match with Corey Perry, and the two went to the box for roughing. Two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey followed, most of it in the Tampa Bay zone, as the Sens got several grade A scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net. I guess Vasilevskiy woke up.
The Lightning got a lot of good chances once the play went back to 5-on-5, but Matt Murray stood tall, and Brady Tkachuk got involved in another scrum. As he does.
Just as I was starting to think that the goals had dried up a bit, Brayden Point beat Murray to tie the game, 2-2.
Ah! Well, nevertheless,
Right after the goal happened, the Lightning were awarded the first powerplay of the game, as Parker Kelly got called for a high stick. Murray robbed Point on an absolutely incredible scoring chance, but that ended up being Tampa Bay’s only shot of the man advantage.
The Sens had fully lost control of the game by this point, with no shots in the last 9 minutes of the first.
It was all Tampa to start the second. In response, the Sens upped the physicality, with Brady Tkachuk once again in the middle of every scrum.
About five minutes in, things got silly.
We almost had a line brawl, with Josh Brown getting into a fight as Brady Tkachuk took on two guys at once, Colin White got involved, and Zub and Gaudette just stood there. Way to ruin the fun, boys.
Did I mention that Keith Tkachuk was in the stands?
(Ironically, Matthew Tkachuk actually scored a goal in his own game while this one was happening, but unfortunately his dad was too busy watching his favourite son get into a fight to care. Sucks to suck.)
The Lightning got a powerplay out of that sequence, and Stamkos scored to take the lead. 3-2 Tampa Bay.
Well, the sens’ing was fun while it lasted.
The two teams barely spent any time at even strength before Brännström took a terrible interference penalty. The Sens killed that one and even got a good shorthanded chance, but then ended up back on the penalty kill, again, when Stützle got called for tripping.
The good news is that they killed that one off too!
Things were getting weird, so naturally, the Sens started to play better. They got their first powerplay of the game after only a few moments at even strength; a prime opportunity to get back in the game.
At least, someone might think that if they had not watched an Ottawa Senators powerplay since Norris got injured.
They did not score.
It was high event hockey, though. So many things were happening, constantly, that I was struggling to keep track of them all while writing this recap. They were certainly putting on a show for the Tkachuks. You could say that stuff was happening at both ends, in fact.
After a series of heart-stopping chances, Tampa Bay finally doubled their lead, with a goal that felt long overdue. 4-2 Tampa Bay.
But the Sens didn’t give up! They looked angry. They clearly weren’t happy to have let this game get away from them, and when they went back to the powerplay… well, a goal didn’t seem totally out of the question.
Although Tim Stützle tried his best to drag his team back into the game, the Sens went into the third still trailing by two, energetic as they might look.
Another powerplay early in the third gave the Sens yet another chance to mount a comeback, but the combination of Ottawa’s bad powerplay and Tampa’s good penalty kill kept that from happening. The Lightning are scary when they actually show up.
Tampa continued to dominate play, and soon pulled ahead 5-2.
The rest of the game was pretty silly. The Senators got a few chances. Tkachuk got involved in more scrums. Another powerplay failed to score. It was fun!
Stutzle still trying things with a minute left pic.twitter.com/j958D5hJUI— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) March 2, 2022
Sometimes, you think your team is going places. And then you watch them play against the Tampa Bay Lightning when the Tampa Bay Lightning are actually trying.
Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing for the Lightning that they were actually trying. Like, you’re starting your #1 goaltender against the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators? Because you’re afraid of what? Getting Sens’d? You’re gonna backcheck against a bunch of forwards who spent the last three days on the toilet? You’re gonna let Brady Tkachuk goad you into a fight and probably give you the flu? Come on.
The Sens worked hard, and they (or, more accurately, their captain) pissed off the Lightning enough to goad them into actually caring about the game. Moral victory, or whatever. I don’t know. I had fun.
- Brady Tkachuk certainly provided entertainment tonight. He was crashing the net on every shift and starting scrums after every whistle. Great night for the Energy Boy.
- Tim Stützle didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he easily could have had two or three goals. Alas, one man cannot mount a comeback all by himself, but he did try.
- Colin White had an assist in his second game back, and a few good looks at the net. It’s nice to see him playing well!