If you looked at all of the factors leading into this game - the second half of a back-to-back, rookie goaltenders, multiple key injuries, facing off against the top team in the league - you would have written this game off as a loss before the puck even dropped. While you would have been correct with the end result, the Sens showed this afternoon that they’re ready for a push down the stretch as they kept pace with the league leading Boston Bruins for much of the afternoon.
Yesterday, Mads Søgaard backstopped the Sens to a beatdown against St. Louis so, naturally, DJ Smith turned to Kevin Mandolese for this one. While it wasn’t quite the 44 save victory we witnessed from Mandolese a few short days ago, he continued to show strength in goal, giving the Sens and their fans some comfort with both Anton Forsberg and Cam Talbot sidelined.
After some back and forth, and a failed 5-on-3 opportunity by the Senators, the score was finally broken open by Boston’s Jake DeBrusk just over fifteen minutes into the opening frame. Luckily for the Sens, it didn’t take long for Claude Giroux to pot his 23rd of the year to knot things up before the zamboni hit the ice for the first intermission.
Absolute hustle play from Gambrell to set up G! #GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/jiCYzj3tSa— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 20, 2023
As the opening paragraph clearly gave away, this was the first and only goal for Ottawa this afternoon. In the second period, David Pastrnak had all the time in the world, and a pretty great angle on Mandolese, and had absolutely no problem tucking the puck into the top corner to crack the 40 goal mark for the second straight season. And, of course, he did it again in the third, this time all alone, to hit 41 - in just his 56th game.
After thrashing the Blues yesterday, it was great to see Ottawa play a competitive hockey game despite the ice being figuratively slanted in the other direction against a well-rested, deep Bruins club.
- Kevin Mandolese continued Ottawa’s streak of having their rookie goaltenders play solid, reliable hockey between the pipes. Mandolese posted a 0.906 SV% and while that doesn’t sound like much, he had to make a few key saves to keep Ottawa in this game early on.
- Tim Stützle, the NHL’s first star of the week, was held off the scoresheet this afternoon so now he only has a mediocre ten points in his last five games. Ho hum. Alas, despite the lack of literal production, Stützle still showed why he’s been a dominant force for Ottawa this season.
- Thomas Chabot has received some heat online recently - some deserved, some not so much - but he had a great outing today, including some fantastic defensive plays to keep the Bruins to the outside. He finished the game slightly on the negative end of the possession battle (47.73 CF%) but there were only five Sens skaters who had a positive impact on the game in this stat overall.
- The Sens got a first look at Julien Gauthier in the lineup this afternoon as he skated primarily with Ridly Greig and Parker Kelly on the team’s third line. Overall, Gauthier looked the part of a bottom six winger with size and some skill. For his first game in the lineup, it wasn’t surprising that he didn’t crack ten total minutes of ice time but, for what it’s worth, I thought he looked fine-to-good when he was on the ice.
- The line of Austin Watson, Dylan Gambrell and Mathieu Joseph was the only one to come out of this game with positive 5v5 possession metrics as a unit.