Game 72 Preview and Open Thread: Ottawa Senators vs Tampa Bay Lightning

Seems every team in the division has beaten Tampa recently...can Ottawa follow suit?

After a back-to-back in which, oddly enough, the Ottawa Senators put together a more inspired effort towards the game they lost (against the better of two teams), they return home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, losers of two straight.

The Lightning (Kucherov, Point, Stamkos) have a similar forward corps to the Sens (Stützle, Tkachuk, Giroux) in that three players carry the bulk of the offence, with two additional second-line options (Batherson, DeBrincat and Killorn, Hagel) leaving a hole in their top-six. Though you can’t compete with Nikita Kucherov’s 100-point campaign, Tim Stützle has been one of the league’s most productive players in 2023, ranking 6th with 47 points, tied with Kucherov and having played two fewer games.

Something else to consider is that the Bolts have ben losing several games to opponents below them in the standings as of late, such as the Sabres, Penguins, Panthers, and the Canadiens most recently. They’re a tough opponent, but not as strong as Boston, and not as desperate as teams fighting for a wildcard spot.

Speaking of which, it appears to be a three-horse race between the Islanders, Penguins, and Panthers, but if there’s one thing that D.J. Smith’s team has done consistently, it’s finishing a season strong.

Jakob Chychrun didn’t take the morning skate but is expected to play alongside Thomas Chabot. Here are the projected lines based on the skate, with no word on a starting goalie as of yet:

Game Notes:

  • There are two statistical categories in which Ottawa edges out Tampa — shots per game and penalty kill. One may recall the last game between these two teams in November. The Sens did themselves no favours by giving Tampa eight power-plays including a five-minute major. Even though the penalty kill was solid, it wasn’t enough to overcome the sheer volume of minutes they were forced into. They weren’t terrible at 5-on-5 in that game so better discipline could end up being the difference in this one.
  • He’s had some of his best games when I draw attention to his struggles in the preview, so here we go again — Alex DeBrincat has 1 point in his last 6 games. This could potentially turn grim if you consider the Sens have to offer him a 1-year qualifying offer worth $9M if they want to negotiate with him into the summer.
  • Whichever goalie starts tonight, he’ll be running hot. Dylan Ferguson has a .980 save percentage in the NHL while Mads Søgaard put up a .943 against Boston. We only need one to catch fire to have a shot down the stretch. At the very least, we can hope that next year’s backup to Anton Forsberg can emerge from this duo. What Ferguson has going for him is that his back’s against the wall. At 24 years old, and having not been given much of an opportunity to play this season, he understands that a strong performance with Ottawa could be his last chance of making an NHL career. It’s a similar situation to Anthony Duclair a few years back — if Ferguson does turn out, hopefully the Sens don’t let a division rival scoop him up for free!
  • Tonight’s a 7:00 PM EST start, and the game is available on TSN5, RDS2, and TSN1200./


Player Stats

Game 74OttawaSenatorsFloridaPanthers
GoalsTim Stützle35Carter Verhaeghe36
AssistsTim Stützle46Matthew Tkachuk62
PointsTim Stützle81Matthew Tkachuk97
ShotsBrady Tkachuk307Matthew Tkachuk282
Time on Ice/GPThomas Chabot25:04Brandon Montour24:08

Team Stats

Game 74OttawaSenatorsFlorida Panthers
Goals Against/GP3.2519th3.4224th
Shots Against/GP33.27th36.91st
Powerplay %23.97th22.59th
Penalty Kill %82.18th74.828th
Corsi % (5v5 SVA)50.9514th54.513rd
xGF % (5v5 SVA)50.5318th53.824th

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