Hockey can be funny, one moment you can be on a roll, and the next moment you’re looking to halt a frustrating losing streak. That’s what happened to the Ottawa Senators, as they were less than a period away from getting their fourth straight win (for the first time since March 2017) last Thursday versus Nashville, but they ended up losing that game and the subsequent two, giving them a three-game losing streak heading into tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.
Ottawa had just swept the Red Wings in a home-and-home a few weeks ago with back-to-back 5-2 wins, so there was a lot of hope they could do the same thing tonight in Detroit. The Senators were definitely ready to go in the first period, as they had plenty of chances early on against Thomas Greiss. They had 7 high-danger chances compared to Detroit’s 1, indicating that the Red Wings were lucky to be in a scoreless game. Ottawa would finally bury one of their chances with just 4.3 seconds left thanks to their newly-minted sniper Austin Watson:
It was a fantastic play before that from Mathieu Joseph and Josh Norris, plus a good finish from Watson as well. It was Watson’s fifth goal in seven games—quite an impressive feat for the fourth-liner.
Also it made this shirtless interview inevitable:
Early in the second period, Nick Holden gave the Red Wings an opportunity to tie the game with a slashing penalty. The funny thing is, Connor Brown and Alex Formenton had the best chances on Detroit’s powerplay, giving Ottawa an easy penalty kill.
Over 7 minutes later, Nikita Zaitsev headed to the penalty box on a holding call that was a bit questionable:
The Red Wings do have some lethal options on their powerplay unit including Lucas Raymond, Dylan Larkin, Moritz Seider, Jakub Vrana, and Tyler Bertuzzi, but all they needed was luck to tie up the game. Seider’s shot from the point went left of the net, and it ricocheted perfectly to Bertuzzi who was standing at the opposite side of the net. Anton Forsberg had no chance to get there in time, giving Bertuzzi an easy goal to make it 1-1.
Ottawa wouldn’t let them get the momentum back though, as they continued to push for their second of the night. Colin White had a close chance where he tried to outwait Greiss at the side of the net, but he couldn’t convert the opportunity. The Senators then retook the lead on an incredibly quick and simple play. Ottawa won the draw, Michael Del Zotto took a shot from the point, and Batherson made an incredibly nice tip to give him his 15th goal of the season:
After 40 minutes of play, it was 2-1 Ottawa, and they deserved to be where they were.
The third period was quite uneventful for most of the time. It was nice to see the Senators not sitting back, and if anything, they should have been able to add to their lead. White was the closest to scoring once again, as his back-door attempt was deflected wide. It truly never felt like the Red Wings were ready to press forward and tie up the game.
Their best chance came when Erik Brännström took a strange “closing his hand on the puck” delay of game penalty with 6:20 left in the game. It was an awkward penalty that he obviously didn’t mean to take, but you could just envision that being the turning point in the game. Instead, Sam Gagner took a penalty three seconds into the powerplay as he interfered with Alex Formenton off the faceoff.
That essentially sealed the Red Wings' fate, with hardly any pressure coming towards Forsberg the rest of the night. Detroit would pull Greiss for the final minutes, but Tim Stützle would score not one but two empty-net goals to give Ottawa a 4-1 win. In the end, it was one of the most impressive defensive performances for the Senators this season. It was a bad Detroit team, but it was impressive nonetheless.
- As I just mentioned, this was a very good defensive performance. The 5v5 shot attempts were 41-34 for Ottawa, but the high-danger chances were 13-3, leading to a 60.52 xGF% for the Senators.
- Joseph added another assist tonight, giving him 12 points in 11 games for Ottawa. He left the bench for a bit after a hit from Moritz Seider but he would later return.
- Stützle’s two empty-net goals and assist gives him 47 points in 70 games, on pace for 55. He also has 19 points in his last 18 games.
- Forsberg hardly had to be tested tonight, but he stopped everything he possibly could have.
- The Senators were without Thomas Chabot and Artem Zub, which makes tonight’s performance even more fascinating.
- If this game happened in Canada, perhaps it would’ve been a 4-0 shutout, since Bertuzzi is the lone NHL player not allowed to enter the country.