California Dreaming: Sens Squeak Out 1-0 Win Over Kings

A summary of the game between the Senators and Kings.

"I don't want to lose you to L.A. / to L.A. and all of the bright lights" - L.A., The Wilkinsons

This lyric could've been about many things for the Senators coming into tonight's tilt with the Kings - their winning streak, Andrew Hammond's stellar start to his career, their impressive play as of late. Thankfully, they came out of L.A. with everything they'd brought in and more.

The game started with all the pressure coming from Ottawa. The Sens being on the back half of a back-to-back playing a rested Kings team, you had to expect the Sens would fade at some point. Their best bet seemed to be to apply the pressure early, and hopefully turn it into an early goal or two. They failed on that count, but had some good looks. Eventually, the Kings found their legs, and both teams got some chances. I noticed the work of some of Ottawa's energy players: the newly-inserted Colin Greening looked re-energized and fast, even breaking up a Kings rush on the backcheck; the line of Erik Condra, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Curtis Lazar was buzzing; and Alex Chiasson got his feet moving to draw a penalty. The Kings would get their own powerplay opportunity, but nobody scored, the shots favouring the Kings 11-6.

If the first seemed at all low-event, the second was anything but. On an early powerplay, the Kings had several chances, including one Justin Williams tucked into the net right after referee Ian Walsh blew the puck dead. It was the only lucky break the Sens would need on that powerplay, because some good work by Condra forced Jamie McBain into taking a holding penalty to prevent a shorthanded breakaway. I loved the look of Mark Stone - Kyle Turris - Cody Ceci - Patrick Wiercioch on the four-on-four, after which Ottawa went to the powerplay. It was the Kings' turn for a lucky break, as Stone had a great chance on a rebound in which Jeff Carter got his stick right up in Stone's hands and hauled him down, but there was no call. Apparently McBain developed some hatred for Condra, because he proceeded to slash a stick-less Condra in the "centre of gravity region" (as Jamie McLennan euphemized it) before the puck arrived. However, the Kings killed that needless penalty too. There was a scare as Kyle Turris took a puck under his visor, but he'd be back after missing only one shift.

From that point forward in the second, it was anything goes. Lazar and Pageau hit the post on separate shifts. Drew Doughty made an end-to-end rush, which gave Dustin Brown a backhand chance on a rebound that he failed to bury. Carter managed to pass the puck straight through the crease but not into the net. Stone had a couple of good looks he couldn't score on. Both Hammond and Jonathan Quick looked like they could not be beat. After two periods, the shots were 24-22 for L.A., but the scored remained knotted at zeroes.

Early in the third period, Bobby Ryan chipped the puck into the zone, Mika Zibanejad grabbed it in stride and made a great cross-crease pass to Mike Hoffman who snapped a puck high over Jonathan Quick for his 21st of the year. Spoiler alert: that would do it for the offence for the night. From there, both goalies shut the doors. Immediately afterward, Ottawa would ice the puck a few shifts in a row to slow the pace of the game down to a crawl. Ryan would take a tripping penalty, but some good PK work and some timely saves kept the Sens in it. L.A. started to get frustrated, but unlike the second where there were scrums after every whistle, both teams seemed content to save the battling for the course of play. Both teams understood the importance of the game.

Hammond stopped everything, playing aggressively, fighting through screens, and scrambling as necessary. After a bad early whistle in the second, Ian Walsh seemed content to wait a LONG time to blow the whistle in scrums for the rest of the game, but Hammond managed to overcome that too. With 1:57 left, Zibanejad got caught taking a hooking penalty which sent L.A. back to the powerplay. Quick would get out for most of it, making it a minute and a half of 6-on-4. At one point, Marc Methot's stick broke on an attempted clear. He got Milan Michalek's stick, but essentially it was a 6-on-3.5 until the next time Hammond froze the puck. I have no idea how he made all those saves, including a doorstep stop on Tyler Toffoli with a minute left:

Seriously, watch that clip. The crowd goes nuts, then is stunned in disbelief. How did it stay out? Will we ever know? The power of Andrew Hammond. Sens win 1-0, shots 35-28 for L.A.

Sens Ultimate Hero: Andrew Hammond

He's now on a shutout streak of 172:22, having won his first four career starts, sporting a .976 save percentage, a 0.75 GAA, and back-to-back shutouts. Forget Drake, this guy started from the bottom, now he's here.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Per Elias: Andrew Hammond (35 saves) is the first <a href="">@Senators</a> goalie to record back-to-back shutouts since Brian Elliott in 2009-10. <a href="">#OTTvsLAK</a></p>&mdash; NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) <a href="">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Sens Hero: Erik Condra

He drew two penalties and was dangerous on the PK all night. He may have had some of the worst possession stats on the night, but he looked great in doing it. Can't believe he might be traded or let go, considering he played the second-most minutes of any Sens forward tonight, behind only...

Sens Hero: Mark Stone

Somehow this guy played the most minutes of any forward tonight, a ridiculous 18:38. Shows how much trust Cameron puts in him. He was making stuff happen all night, and with a different guy in net could have had a point or four. Speaking of which...

Sens Killer: Jonathan Quick

This guy was a beast tonight. It was a good old-fashioned goaltending battle only because Quick wasn't giving an inch to the Hamburglar.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Hammond: &quot;I don&#39;t think anybody expected a goaltending battle between Quick and the Hamburgler&quot;</p>&mdash; Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) <a href="">February 27, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond

He deserves a second mention for that quote above. Seriously, where did this guy come from?

No zeroes tonight, because I'm too excited about the win!

Biggest Losses: Team Tank

Yesterday, there was some optimism among Sens fans. After tonight's win, people seem delirious. The playoffs are still a longshot, but there's almost no chance for Ottawa to fall into a top-eight pick at this point. Have to admit, this team is a lot more fun to cheer for. This was Ottawa's second win IN FRANCHISE HISTORY in Los Angeles, and this means they will escape California with a winning record for the first time in what feels like forever. Call it California Dreaming, but I'd love to see a playoff push.

Game Flow:

Short Chart, via ESPN:


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