We all had this game circled on the calendar: the day Alex DeBrincat returned to Ottawa after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings in the off-season. Following his decision to not accept a long-term contract in Ottawa and saying that he "got lazy on it", fans were ready to boo him in his return. The Senators were hoping to give him and the Red Wings a rude awakening, but unfortunately it was Detroit who had the last laugh with a 5-2 victory.
The game started with some hilarious extra-curriculars, as Brady Tkachuk got mobbed by four Red Wings, which is the number of players necessary to take him on. DeBrincat even got into it with Tkachuk, and I would love to see a lip-reading of this conversation.
Jake Sanderson scored another powerplay goal, his third of the young season season, which is just one fewer than how many he had last year. It was a wicked shot, which again showcased why he's been given the reins as powerplay quarterback:
Sanderson opens the scoring with a rocket on the powerplay. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/nGLDaM1jRr— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 21, 2023
The Senators were dominating, as the 5v5 shot attempts in the opening frame were 25-12. However, Ridly Greig was called for an incredibly weak roughing penalty on DeBrincat, and Shayne Gostisbehere scored just seven seconds into the powerplay:
Greig lays out DeBrincat. 💪 pic.twitter.com/KBPSNXVhkQ— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 21, 2023
Ottawa came out flat in the second period (bringing back from bad memories from years past), and Detroit was able to capitalize with two goals. The first came from an incredible feed from Christian Fischer to Joe Veleno, which started with a lack of coverage from Tim Stützle:
Veleno scores on a BEAUTIFUL pass by Fischer. 😱 pic.twitter.com/HzkNbAugA3— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 21, 2023
David Perron added to their lead while on the powerplay, and it was 3-1 after 40 minutes. It was a short-side goal that Joonas Korpisalo would like to have back, but then again, he had a few amazing saves on the penalty kill just before that, so it's hard to put all the blame on him. Still, despite a 71.11 xGF% through two periods, Ottawa was down 3-1.
Unfortunately, the Senators began the third period on the penalty kill again, and Dylan Larkin would make it 4-1 on a shot that Korpisalo was completely screened on. With three powerplay goals on the afternoon, it was the Red Wings special teams that were making a massive difference. Seven minutes later, Veleno got his second of the game on another short-side goal that Korpisalo would like to have back. At 5-1 with 12:37 left, the game was frustratingly out of reach after starting out with such promise.
Not long after, Greig was able to get the Senators to within three on a strange bounce, although it didn't matter much at that point:
It was a disappointing game against a division foe who is battling to get back into the playoffs, although this won't be the last we see between these two.
- This game was an incredibly frustrating one, as the 5v5 shot attempts were 46-28 and Ottawa's xGF% share was 64.78%. However, off days happen, and I still believe the Senators are much better than the Red Wings based on the fact that they controlled the game.
- It's not as if all five goals were his fault, but Korpisalo needs to be better. 5 goals on 23 shots is never going to be good enough, and he wasn't able to make the key saves on the penalty kill. I feel a lot more confident with Anton Forsberg right now.
- The Senators passing looks much crisper than it has in previous seasons, especially at even strength. They're able to make more plays out of nothing and not lose the puck, which should translate very well to more goals in other games.
- Greig continues to impress, making it easier to swallow the pill that Shane Pinto isn't here. Of course, they should be able to have both, but Greig has done an excellent job of filling in with Vladimir Tarasenko and Mathieu Joseph. It's nice to see him get his first goal of the season and third career goal as well.
- While the Senators came out of the gate firing, their second period was incredibly lethargic. The last few years have been like that, and they need to figure out a way to be more consistent throughout the game.
- The absence of Artem Zub seemed noticeable, as the penalty kill was a mess, and there were lots of missed assignments on the goals. It seems like he won't be out too long though thankfully.
- There were plenty of boos for DeBrincat, which was to be expected. There also seems to be a bit of a rivalry brewing between these two teams, which makes future games fun to look forward to.