This late in the season, it can be difficult to find reasons to get invested in games. The standings are pretty much set, so it’s hard to care that much about wins or losses. Instead, we’re just looking for entertaining games, and good individual performances.
In a way, tonight’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets was exactly the type of game we want to see from this Ottawa Senators team late in the season. They played well for most of it, a few players added to impressive statlines, and the game was interesting from start to finish. I’ll take it, I guess.
Right off the first faceoff, the Sens were out to send a message that this game would not be a repeat of last night’s awful showing against the Rangers. I, for one, appreciated that. Less than two minutes in, our favourite duo of besties linked up to put the Sens on the boards. Brännström started the play, but Tkachuk tapped the puck backward to Josh Norris who buried it, as he usually does.
(Did Pierre Dorion write that tweet?)
I love this play because it shows how far this team has come in terms of building chemistry. Tkachuk knew exactly where Norris would be, and he knew that it would be a good idea to send him the puck. You love to see it.
A few minutes later, the Sens went to the powerplay, but it was tragically short-lived as Brännström was almost immediately sent to the box for… *checks notes*... interference?
This is called interference on Brännström. What on earth? Jets player initiated contact. pic.twitter.com/MhkXquvvVG— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) April 10, 2022
I don’t understand, either.
The Tkachuk-Norris duo did some more amazing work at 4-on-4, but didn’t score.
Ottawa dominated the rest of the period, outshooting the Jets by a wide margin and coming close to scoring several times. Unfortunately, however, a very unfortunate bounce tied the game late in the period. Ehlers sent a pass into the slot, and it bounced off Victor Mete and right into the net. Mete had been playing well up until that point, too. 1-1.
To add to the bad vibes going into the second period, Zub went to the box with about one and a half seconds left on the clock.
Despite a good shorthanded opportunity for Brown and Formenton, the Sens failed to kill off that penalty, giving up a goal right at the end. 2-1 Winnipeg.
Just as Ottawa had had full control of the game for most of the first, Winnipeg took over in the second. After a few minutes of offensive pressure following the go-ahead goal, the Jets got a 2-on-1 that Søgaard couldn’t handle. 3-1 Winnipeg.
In front of Marie-Philip Poulin, and other Canadian Olympians watching from the stands? This is so embarrassing.
The rest of the middle frame continued like that - basically a return to the type of play we saw from this team at Madison Square Garden yesterday. Thankfully, they did bounce back a little bit toward the end, and even earned themselves a powerplay with just under a minute left, as former Senator Zach Sanford went to the box. That might have sparked a bit of hope if this were any other team.
This was not any other team, however. This was the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators, and we know perfectly well that they do not win hockey games in which they are trailing after two periods. Aside from that one time the Oilers defeated themselves, of course.
In a nice change of pace from what we’ve gotten used to, the Sens actually had a lot of jump to start the third, clearly looking to pull off the comeback. The captain got things started, tapping in a nice pass from Colin White after Stützle did great work getting the puck to the net. 3-2 Winnipeg.
Unfortunately, a penalty to Mathieu Joseph gave the Jets another chance on the powerplay. Søgaard made a few good saves, but ultimately the Jets’ powerplay was just too much for this team, and Kyle Connor took back the two-goal lead. 4-2 Winnipeg.
Shortly thereafter, Tim Stützle pissed off a few players with a big hit, and as players were shoving at each other, Ottawa somehow ended up with a bench minor for too many men on the ice.
Somehow, the Sens kept the puck out of their net, and got a few good chances at even strength before going back to the powerplay.
The first powerplay didn’t yield any results, but another one came right after it, and Brady Tkachuk scored his second of the night to bring his team within one. This was an especially cool goal, as Brady displayed some excellent hand-eye coordination to bat the puck into the net. Are these the “Baseball Sens” everyone is always talking about? 4-3 Winnipeg.
With about two minutes left, Ottawa pulled the goaltender, and actually looked incredibly dangerous with the extra attacker on the ice. Definitely the best they’ve looked at 6v5 all season long, which isn’t saying much, but is still an improvement.
Of course, they still didn’t manage to get the equalizer, thanks to some stellar goaltending from Hellebuyck. They made things interesting, but ultimately fell 4-3 in regulation.
- Brady Tkachuk has hit another level recently, and he was amazing in this game. Easily could have had 3 or 4 goals, and let’s not forget that beautiful pass to Norris. 30 goals might be back on the table for him.
- Tim Stützle was his usual self in his return from injury, which is to say that he made things happen on every shift and could have scored several goals. Get the man some real top-6 forwards to play with next season, please.
- Erik Brännström also looked dangerous with the puck all night long, and looked especially good with the net empty.
- Poor Mads Søgaard was much busier tonight than he was in his first NHL game, and I didn’t think any of those goals were his fault. For just his second start, this was a pretty good game for him. That’s always nice to see.