Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the fun things that happened tonight — a shoe-in for Ottawa’s most entertaining (and stressful) game of the year thus far:
- After scoring nine goals in seven games, the Senators scored six in one (!), including three in one period (!!!!)
- Thomas Chabot doubled (!!!) his NHL point total in one night, becoming the seventh Sens defenceman to record three points in his rookie season (including his first ever NHL goal). His contributions helped the powerplay score two key goals tonight.
- The Isles lost for the first time in regulation on home-ice this season (they were 8-0-2 coming in); Mathew Barzal’s seven-game point streak came to an end
- Zack Smith and Bobby Ryan both scored... a goal... in the same game
- Bobby Ryan also took a slash on to his hand in the third period but survived (!!!!!!!!). Although the Senators didn’t score on the powerplay, they killed an extra two minutes off the clock in an extended 6-on-5 situation that was wonderful to watch
- In a game that featured 11 goals and two goalie pulls, Mike Condon stopped all 19 shots he faced
- One odd fact: Erik Karlsson didn’t record a single point/
Anyway, onto the recap.
Let’s start with this: in the first period, Ryan Dzingel scored on a breakaway. Now, I know this sounds like it could’ve been included in the section above, but as our own B_T stated earlier this week, Dzingel’s a career ~13% shooter in a league where the average is 9%. He’s good. Now, what I should’ve highlighted was the fact that Nate Thompson was the one who delivered the crisp three-line stretch pass through Adam Pelech to send Dzingel on his sleigh, but you can’t showcase ‘em all.
Another fun thing? Matt Duchene has his first assist as an Ottawa Senator! This came off of some good forechecking from Hoffman, who cut Tavares off and forced him up the middle of the ice. Duchene then hounded the NHL’s leading scorer on the backcheck, pushed him off the puck, and delivered a one-handed touch-pass to Zack Smith who slapped it past Greiss for his first regular season goal since March 4th. Smith, who’s coming back from a dislocated thump, had an ultra hard shot tonight — a sign that he’s pretty much back to normal.
Now, the Isles aren’t the league’s top scoring team for no reason — they have a ton of skill, and got goals all throughout their lineup tonight. Jason Chimera, who had zero points in 24 games coming into tonight and left with two, sped it on the forecheck to retrieve the puck on a dump-in. While Phaneuf admirably covered his side of the net, Karlsson and Tom Pyatt got crossed-up in their coverage, leaving Anthony Beauvillier wide-open to take the behind-the-net pass from Chimera and pot it past Craig Anderson.
Then, with Hoffman in the box for a cross-check on Barzal, the Isles worked the puck around the umbrella from left-to-right where Josh Bailey fired a hard shot towards goal. Given the puck’s speed, Anderson can’t handle it and Anders Lee outmuscles Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci for a powerplay marker to tie the game with six minutes left in the period.
The Isles had other chances in the period. Notably, Mat Barzal deked Zack Smith out of his skates for a chance, Ryan Pulock did the same to Alex Burrows, and Cal Clutterbuck forced Fredrik Claesson to make a poor decision on a forecheck such that the puck ended up with Brock Nelson in the slot; all were stopped by Anderson. Moreover, the Isles had two other powerplays in the period (a phantom “too many men” call in the game’s opening moments and a Brassard offensive zone penalty chasing Nick Leddy behind his net) but the Sens did a relatively good job defending a dangerous Isles kill on both of those opportunities.
Instead, it was the Senators who entered the first intermission with a 3-2 lead. The trio of Bobby Ryan, Derick Brassard, and Mark Stone — reunited again after being en fuego to start the season — played well tonight and were rewarded with some luck on this goal. Brassard won a puck battle along the right boards, elusively worked around Pelech, and threw the puck on net. Bobby Ryan tips the centering attempt, and although it’s stopped by Greiss, the play is kept alive by a pinching Dion Phaneuf. The defenceman throws it back on net and it hits Ryan’s skate, deflecting past Greiss for Ryan’s first of the season.
Unfortunately for the Senators, their lead was short-lived. Less than five minutes into the second period, a poor change leaves Erik Karlsson alone defending a 2-on-1 with Anders Lee and John Tavares — aka the players not to be stuck with on a 2-on-1. Lee streaks in the right side, gets the puck to Tavares on his left, and stays with the play as Tavares’ rebound pops back in front of the net; he then uses his superior size and strength to get good stick position on Karlsson, and sends the puck into the empty net to knot the game at three. How did this whole play develop? Johnny Oduya was caught up the ice and Gabriel Dumont got the puck flipped over his head via an aerial pass from Josh Bailey. An all around mess for the Senators.
On the subsequent shift, Anderson, who was out of position just 1:16 prior, decides to not leave the puck for an open Thomas Chabot and rings it around the boards where it’s cut off by Jordan Eberle. He quickly gets the puck to Andrew Ladd in the slot, who shoots it past the Sens ‘tender to give the Isles their first lead of the night.
The Sens are able to respond four minutes later, with Thomas Chabot taking the game into his hands. Again, it starts with Derick Brassard’s effort on the forecheck, as this time, he gets the puck to Mark Stone in support. Stone sends the puck back to Ryan at the point, where he delivers a sweet pass right into Chabot’s wheelhouse on the right-side. Chabot, who was calling for the puck as soon as Ryan got it, makes no mistake on the play as he ChaBomb’s it past Greiss to tie the game at four.
With the way the season is going so far, I kinda figured that my joy would dissipate quickly. I did expect it to last longer than 14 seconds, though. An unlucky break of Erik Karlsson’s stick at the point sent Jason Chimera on a 100-ft breakaway and he made no mistake placing the puck right above Anderson’s right pad for his first goal of the season. Given how much the Sens needed that save, it was no surprise to see Craig Anderson pulled after allowing five goals on 18 shots.
The Senators made sure Andy wasn’t alone, though, as just three minutes later, they chased Thomas Greiss from his net. With John Tavares in the box for hooking Mike Hoffman, the Senators finally appear to have significant powerplay pressure in what seems like the first time in, say, seven games. Although they didn’t score, the first unit of Stone, Karlsson, Hoffman, Duchene, Brassard looked good with a number of chances in-tight. Stone, Karlsson, and Hoffman played the umbrella, with Duchene playing down low in his typical spot on Colorado’s powerplay. The second unit, which also featured Hoffman, was the one to get the goal. After Chabot missed the net with a shot from the left side, Hoffman corralled the puck, took it to the right faceoff circle, and wired it past Greiss to tie the game at five with two seconds left in the penalty to Tavares.
That’s 10 goals in a little over 32 minutes of ice-time; with both starting goalies pulled for the second NHL game this season; and four players recording their first goals of the year.
The goalie changes calmed the rest of the game down, with Ottawa getting a fair bit more pressure than the Islanders, but not putting many dangerous opportunities towards goal. What was exciting was that Boucher left Chabot on the ice for a few shifts against Tavares, and although the Sens were stuck defending, they generally managed the puck well.
The most significant event in the last 8 minutes of the period — and you could argue, the game — actually came in the last 20 seconds. Near the end of a shift, Nate Thompson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau skate up the ice with the puck. Instead of just ditching the puck and going for a change, Thompson dumps the puck in near Jaroslav Halak and chases after it while Pageau crashes the crease. This effort leads to Johnny Boychuk taking a penalty on Pageau in front of the net, and leads to a powerplay that carries over to the third.
On the ensuing advantage, Phaneuf works the puck around to Chabot on the right-side of the umbrella. He pounds the puck towards goal, and instead of tipping the puck, Dzingel stops it, and pots the backhand around a flailing Halak for his second of the night and a 6-5 Senators lead.
That goal — scored just one minute into the period — is the last goal of the hockey game. Yes, you read that correctly: the Sens finally defended a one-goal lead, against the most dangerous offence in the league.
It was a full-team defensive effort, too. Cody Ceci made a number of good plays (!!!!!!!) on John Tavares, including boxing him out in the defensive zone to prevent him from attacking the net, and using an active stick on a subsequent shift to poke the puck off of Anders Lee’s stick. Moreover, the Sens continued to press until the last seven minutes or so of the period. Boucher’s forward pairings, including Smith and Duchene, worked well tonight and almost every Sens line had an extended shift in the Isles zone. Thomas Chabot played around 15 minutes on a Sens defence corps that spread its minutes around (all six played between 15 and 22 minutes), including shifts in the third period with a one goal lead (!).
In addition to his two goals, Ryan Dzingel also led the team in CF% tonight, and was particularly effective as a high forward, rotating between each side of the ice with speed to cut off Isles zone exits, while ‘diggers’ like Nate Thompson and Gabriel Dumont forechecked a mobile Islanders defence corps. Most of the S
Finally, Mike Condon was fantastic, especially in the dying moments of the game. With the goalie pulled for the last 1:30 or so, Condon survived attempts from Nick Leddy (x2), Josh Bailey, and finally, Jordan Eberle in the last two seconds of the game, to help the Senators win. Again, it’s worth repeating that he was the only goaltender tonight to not allow a goal, and since we’ve shredded him for his miscues in earlier games, I want to make sure he gets all of the credit he deserves tonight.
Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick
Heat Map via Natural Stat Trick