Coming off a great stretch of hockey against a few teams ahead of them in the standings, this game against the bottom-feeding Columbus Blue Jackets could have been considered a trap game for the Ottawa Senators. It felt like a game they might have lost in November.
Instead, we were treated to a performance that showcased how things have turned around for this team since that disastrous month. The special teams pulled through, and the goaltending was there when needed. A win that was almost easy.
The first period of play was fun and eventful, the kind of hockey you can only get between two teams that have lots of offensive firepower and some major defensive problems. The Sens had the puck for most of it and generally looked like the better team, generating grade-A chances and putting pressure on the Blue Jackets for entire shifts. Forsberg did have to bail them out a few times, though, when major defensive miscues left Blue Jackets players all alone in front of the Sens’ net. Funny how that keeps happening.
Brassard somehow missed a wide open net on the powerplay, and then DeBrincat did the same a few minutes later at even strength. An exciting first period ended scoreless, and it certainly looked like the Sens had a good chance of winning.
The first line that’s been so good this season started things off on a good note, as Tkachuk sent the puck to Giroux, who made a very smart play to circle around and create a great chance that also drew a penalty.
The ensuing powerplay was kind of bad to start, but eventually the second unit pulled through, as a point shot from Sanderson deflected off a Blue Jackets player or possibly Derick Brassard and got past the Columbus goaltender to break the tie. 1-0 Ottawa.
After a successful penalty kill, the Sens kept rolling, as Tim Stütlzle did some great work off a faceoff to double the lead. Chabot reacted with his go-to celebration: a hug so tender and loving that it kind of looked like maybe the broadcast should have cut away and let the two players have their moment. 2-0 Ottawa.
Now down by two goals, the Blue Jackets kept making the one mistake you’re not supposed to make against the Ottawa Senators: waking up their giant PP.
The next Sens powerplay yielded no results, but another one soon followed, and this time the Sens wasted no time further extending the lead. 3-0 Ottawa.
One more unsuccessful Sens powerplay followed before the end of the second period, and the Sens went back to the dressing room with a sizable lead in both shots and actual goals.
Ottawa started the third shorthanded, with Chabot having taken a high-sticking penalty late in the second. That penalty was killed off as easily as the last, though, as the Sens’ special teams remained strong. They’ve got a bit of a penalty killing streak going on, for anyone paying attention. A tripping penalty on Tkachuk soon sent the Sens right back to the man advantage.
The Sens did great work on the powerplay, as Tim Stützle hit the post and Chabot was robbed on the rebound, but the Blue Jackets managed to stave them off.
I’m focusing a lot on the chances the Sens were getting - and there were certainly a lot of those - but the Blue Jackets did continue to get scary opportunities when they had the puck. This could have been a very different game without Anton Forsberg playing so well.
Overall though, the Sens did a great job of defending their lead, by which I mean that they didn’t take their foot off the gas for one moment. They seemed to be trying to further extend their lead for the entire 20 minutes. Eventually, they got the well-deserved fourth goal, with Watson clearing the puck on the penalty kill. 4-0 Ottawa.
- Tim Stützle is unreal. There were so many moments in this game where he just held on to the puck and wouldn’t let it go, spinning around everyone on the ice. He’s such a treat to watch.
Timmy Stutzle is dancing out there pic.twitter.com/T7RmU1k7tJ— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 4, 2023
- Claude Giroux also had a fantastic game, with assists on the first two goals.
- I said it in the recap, but it bears repeating: Anton Forsberg earned this shutout. Yes, the Sens had possession for most of this game. Yes, they deserved to win. But Forsberg made some massive stops at big moments to keep the Blue Jackets off the board.