It wasn’t pretty, but the Senators managed to extend their win streak to five games, beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime. Captain Erik Karlsson was stellar, scoring two goals and assisting on the third, giving the Sens yet another key victory.
The game was notable because it marked the first NHL game for Chris DiDomenico. After being a 6th-round pick in 2007, it was a long time coming for his first NHL game, which must have felt good. Seriously, this guy played two seasons for a team in Italy named after cheese. It must’ve been weird to be born in Canada but playing in Italy with such an Italian name. I’m guessing he thought this opportunity would never come, and even though he probably won’t find his way into a lot of games, it’s a nice story.
Ottawa had the better of chances to start the first, but then fell off, almost liked they’d played the night before. The Coyotes were helped out by DiDomenico taking the first two penalties of the game, ensuring he’d be on the scoresheet in his first NHL game. Arizona couldn’t get much going on the first, and after some good puck movement on the second Viktor Stalberg’s speed forced Jacob Chychrun into a holding penalty, meaning the Sens survived both penalty kills and even got a shortened powerplay after the second. It didn’t do much, and after a Stalberg giveaway at the point Mike Condon had to make a sharp save on a Lawson Crouse breakaway. Then Arizona would get another great chance and Condon would make another great save, this time on Anthony Duclair. A big scrum would ensue, but because DiDomenico wasn’t involved, no penalties were called. And that would do it for the first, with the Sens thoroughly outplayed but still tied in a scoreless game.
The second period would see an uptick in entertainment value. The Yotes got on the board first with Brandon Perlini having the chance to rush in on Marc Methot in snap a puck past Condon. That lead would only last 40 seconds though. Jean-Gabriel Pageau won an offensive zone draw and headed to the net. Fredrik Claesson unleashed a bomb from the point that Mike Smith fought off, but Pageau got the rebound with no Arizona skaters within a nautical mile of him. He calmly flipped the puck past a visibly disgusted Smith, restoring the tie. That also gave Claesson his eighth point in his past 10 games, which means he’ll probably be scratched on Saturday.
Ottawa couldn’t hold that though, because Josh Jooris forced the puck free from Erik Karlsson, and Lawson Crouse beat Anderson Condon with a wrap-around to restore Arizona’s lead. Ottawa looked like a tired team that would have a hard time coming back in the third.
The third period felt rather slow to start with, mostly due to an onslaught of penalties. Mike Hoffman went off for slashing, and then Marc Methot went off during that penalty for holding, giving the ‘Yotes 20 seconds of 5-on-3. Ottawa would win the faceoff and fire it down the ice though, meaning it was really just a long time of 5-on-4. Just 27 seconds after the second penalty expired, Hoffman drew a tripping call, sending Ottawa to another powerplay (which of course they didn’t score on). Still, killing off two penalties in a row gave Ottawa a bit of jump. They were rewarded not long after the powerplay expired. A goal-mouth scramble led to Pageau sweeping the puck cross-crease to Karlsson who had a second to settle it down and wrist it past a helpless (M.) Smith. He looked pumped too after the goal. DiDomenico had been in that goal-mouth scramble, so Pageau kept the puck for him in case it was his first NHL point, but the scorekeepers didn’t give it to him. In my opinion that was correct since Arizona had earned possession after he last touched it, but as the commentators pointed out, if the game had been in Ottawa they would’ve given it to him. That would essentially do it for regulation, and Ottawa headed to OT despite being outshot 41-30 to that point.
The funny thing about shots is it only takes one to win a game. That’s all it took in this overtime period. An errant drop pass missed Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Karlsson took the puck and immediately flew down the ice. Tom Pyatt kept pace to make it a 2-on-0, but Karlsson looked shot the whole way and put it in off the post. It seemed the right way to end it - the captain showing off his offensive flair, his speed, and his sense of fun when he was all smiles after sealing the deal. The win also put the Sens first in the Atlantic Division in points percentage because the Canadiens lost 5-0 (!!) to the Flames. (With Price, Radulov, and Plekanec all out, so don’t get too excited yet.)
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Just a dynamite performance from the captain. When he’s in this form, the team is near unstoppable.
Sens Hero: Mike Condon
Another big game for the back up. He made several strong saves with a tired team in front of him. Ottawa couldn’t have won if he hadn’t put up 39 saves on the night.
Honourable Mention: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Two points, 53% on the faceoffs, 56% of the 5v5 shot attempts. A very good game for Pageau in Kyle Turris’ absence. The team is best when Pageau is the third-line centre, but it’s nice to see him contribute when he needs to step up in the lineup.
The thing about writing the recap late is you actually get to put up the highlights!