After losing 2-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in an incredibly frustrating fashion, the Ottawa Senators paid a visit to the St. Louis Blues, currently second in the Central Division, to conclude a five-game road trip in which they had gone 0-4-0 prior to tonight. You just know that head coach D.J. Smith was looking for just as good of an effort and a better result, and the squad was able to clear both of those bars.
Both teams had some fantastic opportunities to get the opening goal. Pavel Buchnevich and Alex Formenton both created 2-on-1 opportunities off of opposing turnovers, but neither one created a shot on goal. Shortly after, Brady Tkachuk charged into the Blues’ end, stole the puck, and ripped a shot off the post. Tim Stützle would yield the same result on his first attempt of the game, but both players would get a second chance.
First, Brady would force another turnover, and draw a tripping penalty on David Perron. Stützle then proceeded to take advantage of a fortunate bounce, and bank a shot off of Jordan Binnington to open the scoring on the power-play for the Senators.
Just over three minutes later, however, the Blues would strike back. After Ryan O’Reilly picked off Nikita Zaitsev’s clearing attempt, he found Perron who had made his way behind the coverage of both Nick Holden and Josh Norris to tie the game at 1-1.
St. Louis had been the better team following the goal, and for most of the period, but in the dying minutes, Connor Brown drew a tripping penalty on Torey Krug, which ultimately proved to be the turning point of the entire game.
The power-play carried into the second period, and Sens leading goalscorer Josh Norris had two opportunities to get the go-ahead goal. He whiffed on the first one, but made no mistake on the second, beating Binnington under the arm to give Ottawa their second power-play marker of the game, on top of a 2-1 lead. Norris now has 20 goals this season in just 40 games.
From there, the Senators proceeded to take over the game. They were able to limit the Blues’ puck movement in their own end, and generate tons of offensive zone pressure themselves. The fourth line of Parker Kelly, Dylan Gambrell, and Austin Watson even got in on the action, as they kept the O’Reilly line hemmed in for over a minute following the go-ahead goal.
The Blues also got in their own way quite a bit, with tons of passes off the mark, and players falling over at less than ideal times. All of this resulted in the Senators outshooting them 11-3 in the frame.
Early in the third period, Vladimir Tarasenko had a fantastic chance to tie the game, but Forsberg had other ideas.
That’s just a beautiful glove save, one you won’t see very often, and it’s made all the better by the reaction of the Blues’ players and the play-by-play.
Despite some inconsistency throughout the season regarding the more routine shots, Forsberg has thrived on these high-danger opportunities. His defense supported him tonight by allowing just 21 shots in the game, and he returned the favor by bailing them out when necessary.
After that momentary fumble, Ottawa quickly returned to being the better team, as while the shot attempts in the period were just about even, they were superior in terms of blocking shots, as well as creating chances from within spitting distance of the net.
Tkachuk had two great chances earlier in the game. The first went off the post, and the second forced a tripping penalty which led to Ottawa’s first goal. And for Brady, in his childhood home (no, I’m not talking about Mark Stone’s house), the third time was the charm.
Down 3-1, St. Louis pulled Binnington with 3:30 left, won the following faceoff in the Sens’ end, and found the puck in their own net seconds later, courtesy of Formenton. That’s all representative of the final 40 minutes of the game — Stützle’s pass interception which created the goal was just one of many examples of Ottawa just wanting the puck more in this game. With that, the Senators cap off their five-game road trip with a 4-1 win, a single victory, but a dominant one nonetheless in which they outshot St. Louis 28-21.
- We’ve seen Ottawa’s physical, in-your-face style of play lead to quite a few penalties in the past, but tonight they were very disciplined. They took a single minor penalty, courtesy of Parker Kelly’s eagerness to drop the gloves after a clean hit by Blues forward Alexi Torpochenko on Dylan Gambrell. For most of the game, their strong checking wore down the Blues and allowed them to sustain pressure in the offensive zone for the majority of the game. If they can continue to limit the time they spend in the box and commit to the structure they showed tonight, they should be able to significantly increase the number of scoring chances they get each game.
- Combine a solid two-way effort with strong goaltending from Anton Forsberg, along with three-point nights for Stützle and Norris, and you’ve got a recipe for success. If only this team could just find some consistency, and not lose five games in a row between these moments of brilliance.
- Brady Tkachuk was a force tonight, with a goal, five shots, and five takeaways.
- With two assists tonight, Colin White is now up to 5 points in 6 games since returning from injury. If he can be a 40-point player going forward, that’ll be a nice bonus for Ottawa’s offense.
- Nikita Zaitsev led all Senators’ defensemen tonight with a 5-on-5 expected goals share of 70.08%, according to NaturalStatTrick. This game serves as proof that even with the occasional defensive lapse, the Senators can still have a strong performance if the whole team can avoid being hemmed in their own end for long periods at a time.
- Longtime NHL referee Dean Morton recently officiated his 1000th game, and with his retirement soon to come, the Senators congratulated him on a very successful career after their victory.
Ottawa showing some respect to Dean Morton, who is retiring next month. pic.twitter.com/qAR8hvrzWf— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) March 9, 2022
- Next up, on Thursday, March 10th, the Sens return home, where they’ll take their first Krak at the NHL’s newest franchise. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:00 pm EST.