Given the injury news for the Ottawa Senators, this was always going to be an interesting match up against the high flying Dallas Stars. Missing Josh Norris and Anton Forsberg? Those are some big shoes to fill.
Ahead of the game, DJ Smith opted to slide Derick Brassard right in to Norris’ slot between Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat. We call this the “least disruptive option”, enabling Smith’s other two lines to maintain their chemistry. For this game, however, all eyes would be on how the lines were deployed as things went on - as you can imagine Shane Pinto moving into that top six centre role pretty quickly if things with Brassard weren’t working out.
Right out of the gate, the Senators appeared to be on their heels. They allowed the Stars to get the first eight (!) shots on net before registering their own - leaving Magnus Hellberg to do some heavy lifting early in his Senators debut. Early on, the Stars appeared to have maybe scored a goal but, quite frankly, Ottawa got away with one as there was no clear view of the puck crossing the line. In my opinion, that puck was almost certainly across the line but with no way to confirm it... we’ll take it!
While the first frame ended relatively even in shot attempts, the Stars crushed the Sens in the high danger chance department, five to one. Hellberg was strong and the fourth line came out flying but heading into the first intermission, Smith was going to need to light a fire under his top players, some of whom were largely invisible until the final few shifts of the first.
Whatever wise words were spoken in the first intermission surely worked as the Sens looked far more like themselves in the second frame. While they didn’t fill the net, only scoring once in the period, the team had more control, more possession and only lost the high danger chances battle seven to five, instead of five to one. It took almost the entire period but, on the powerplay, the Sens finally got one past Scott Wedgewood.
At first, it appeared that Thomas Chabot had his first of the season but, upon review, Drake Batherson got a piece of it, scoring his fourth of the season.
The third period is where things got exciting for fans at the Canadian Tire Centre. With the game knotted at one, Brady Tkachuk got the party started early into the frame with another five hole goal off a perfect feed from Tim Stützle.
Not long after, Shane Pinto joined in on the fun with an absolutely filthy goal. This marker was Pinto’s fifth in his last five games. The North Dakota product is on an absolute heater right now.
The final Sens tally of the evening belonged to the veteran Brassard, who certainly made the most of his addition to the lineup tonight.
While Dallas was able to add a second goal of their own, Ottawa ran away with this one in the third period. They now sit with a 4-2-0 record and are on a four game winning streak.
- In his Ottawa Senators debut, Magnus Hellberg was about as good as we could have hoped for. He had a sterling 0.935 SV% while making some key saves, particularly in the first period, to keep his team in the game.
- While he didn’t score a goal, Alex DeBrincat was once again a shot machine tonight. He threw seven pucks on net while adding another assist to his point totals.
- It appears Brady Tkachuk has found yet another level to his game, as he had another goal and assist. This brings the captain to ten points through just six games to start the season.
- Derick Brassard led all Sens skaters at 5v5 with a 66.67 CF%. His linemates Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat were the second and third ranked forwards in this metric, showing a completely dominant game by this trio. On the back end, Jake Sanderson and Travis Hamonic had quite the fancy stat game, with both clearing 60 CF% at even strength./