The Ottawa Senators faced off against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. Craig Anderson got the start in net for Ottawa, while Nashville changed things up and went with Carter Hutton as their starting goaltender.
Just before the game got started, the Sens made a roster change as Marc Methot was out with the flu, allowing Chris Wideman to move in and make his NHL debut. The absence of Methot meant that Mark Borowiecki took his place as Erik Karlsson's defensive partner.
Borowiecki wasted no time in making his impact on this game, delivering a bone-crushing hit on Craig Smith four minutes into the first period. He wasn't done there. Just two minutes later, he and Paul Gaustad dropped the gloves. Both players went to the box for five minutes, sparking a series of great scoring chances from the Senators. Their momentum was short-lived, unfortunately.
Jared Cowen took an interference penalty at the eight minute mark. Despite some great defensive play by Curtis Lazar on the penalty kill, James Neal scored a power-play goal, sliding the puck past Anderson with a wraparound move. The Sens ended the period with a few more quality scoring chances in front of Hutton, but came up short, ending the period down 1-0.
The second period started off pretty well for the Senators, as Mark Stone scored 25 seconds in to tie things up. After Kyle Turris picked up the puck along the boards, he passed it to the front of the net, where Stone was coming in off the wing. He picked up the pass and easily slipped it behind Hutton.
Shortly after Stone's goal, Curtis Lazar came just inches away from putting the Sens ahead when he joined Alex Chiasson on the rush. Carter Hutton was able to keep the puck out, but clearly the momentum had shifted in favour of the Senators.
Both teams exchanged penalties, with Mike Fisher and Zack Smith both taking penalties within three minutes of each other. Neither team was able to score on the man advantage, and the game remained tied throughout the middle of the second period.
Shortly after the 12-minute mark of the second period, Mike Hoffman made it 2-1 for the Sens with a blast from just inside the blue line. Both Stone and Turris picked up assists on the goal, continuing to show why they are the Sens top line.
The second period did not end well for the Sens. Just when they thought they were going to head into the second intermission with the lead, Mike Ribeiro picked up the puck on a turnover at the Sens blue line and passed it to Craig Smith, who released a snap shot that beat Anderson and tied things up. With just under 2 minutes remaining in the period, Erik Karlsson took a tripping penalty. The Sens would end the second period, and start the third, on the penalty kill.
Things went from bad to worse for Ottawa at the beginning of the third period. Mark Borowiecki took a slashing penalty under 20 seconds in, after he stopped James Neal on a partial breakaway. This put Nashville on a two-man advantage for about 30 seconds. Ottawa managed to kill off both penalties, and even generated some short-handed scoring chances in the process.
About halfway through the final period, Kyle Turris went to the penalty box for tripping Craig Smith. On the power play, James Neal put the Predators ahead 3-2 with another wraparound goal on Anderson.
Although it looked like this game was over, Mike Hoffman had other thoughts. With just under four minutes to go, he released a slap shot from the point, beating Hutton and keeping the Sens alive.
Curtis Lazar came close to winning the game for Ottawa in the dying seconds, scoring just after the final buzzer sounded. So, this game went into overtime.
The ensuing 3-on-3 overtime was anything but quick and anything but boring. About halfway through the extra period, a collision in front of the benches caused some confusion, and resulted in a too-many-men penalty for Nashville, and an interference penalty for Ottawa. In the moments that followed, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson controlled the play for Ottawa. Despite this overwhelming dominance, they were unable to score, sending us into the shootout.
Bobby Ryan did everything in his part to keep Ottawa in it, making an amazing move to beat Hutton in the shootout. But both James Neal and Filip Forsberg scored on Anderson, winning the game for Nashville.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
Hoffman had two goals, one assist, four shots and over 18 minutes of ice time on the night. His line with Turris and Stone was by far Ottawa's best line, getting involved in all three of Ottawa's goals. In a game where Ottawa needed to generate more offense than they had been lately, Hoffman was a much needed help.
Sens Zero: Penalties
Ottawa took 11 penalties in total, while Nashville took seven. Two of Nashville's goals came on the power play. When you put yourself down a player this often, it's only a matter of time before you get burned. Ottawa's inability to slow down the offense of the other team has been well documented lately, and they did themselves no favours tonight.
Sens Killer: James Neal
With two goals during the game (both in a very similar fashion), and the winning goal during the shootout, James Neal had the Sens' number tonight. He knew exactly how to score on Anderson and was able to get the space to make this move twice. He played a major role in Nashville getting the best of Ottawa.
Game Flow courtesy of Natural Stat Trick: