It was the last game before the Christmas break, the team brightened the arena with new lights, and the Captain was feeling terrible about all the losing: the circumstances were auspicious for the Ottawa Senators to break a six game losing streak.
The first period started well with the Sens having the upper hand in the first couple of shifts. Less than 3 minutes in, though, the Sens were already in the box giving the Penguins their first power play of the game. To make matters worse, the Sens decided to go down 2-men with a too many men penalty. That's one part of DJ Smight's legacy that I think we can all agree we'll be happy to leave behind. Thankfully the team showed some real grit in killing an almost two minute long 5-on-3.
The opening frame continued to go well for the Sens, with one of the standouts being Jakob Chychrun. He was on another level tonight; it was no surprise that he was the one to open the scoring for the Sens, giving them the 1-0 lead by potting a rebound.
Unfortunately for Ottawa, Sidney Crosby continues to defy aging and he forced them back into the penalty box where this time the Pens were able to tie the game. If you wanted to see some signs that maybe there is some hope going forward, the team didn't roll over in the face of adversity this time. Tkachuk and Josh Norris connected on a gorgeous goal to help ensure the response would set the tone for the rest of the game. Seriously, how pretty is this Norris tally, who is now on a 5-game goal scoring streak.
Home runs this season:— SENS TALK (@senstalk_) December 24, 2023
A *real* stat ladies and gentleman. pic.twitter.com/0phU9t1gva
After a promising first period, the Sens start the dreaded second period on the penalty kill. Once again, they were able to weather the storm.
Tkachuk has been under the microscope ever since Boo-gate, and, frankly speaking, his recent play has left us wanting a bit more. After coming out and saying he has never felt this badly after last game, he made sure his actions showed he meant business. As the match went on, Tkachuk was stronger and more focused and had the Sens in a comfortable 3-1 lead early in the second.
A little miscommunication gave the Pens some life to cut the lead to 3-2, but it didn't take long for our Short King Erik Brännström to restore the 2-goal lead in what would be a controversial goal. The Penguins challenged for offside and, after a lengthy review, it was determined that Tkachuk had, barely, stayed onside and the Pens would get a delay of game penalty. I personally think it could have gone either way but it was also too close to call for an overturn on the initial call and, hey, in those rare moments where refs are on our side we'll take it.
The Sens didn't do much with the power play but they remained strong through the period and surprisingly finished off with a 4-2 lead while outshooting the Pens 22-11.
The third period was upon us, fans were excited to see these suddenly dominating Sens take control of the game aaaaand uhhhh it was 4-3 before you could blink. From that moment on, it was full panic mode. The old, worn-down Sens were back in full force and nothing seemingly could wake them up.
Anton Forsberg played like his life depended on it, and the Pens would have tied and taken a lead much earlier if it weren't for him – especially on the penalty kill.
It didn't help that the officiating was having its own struggles: a blatant elbow that left Chychrun leaking all over the ice was somehow missed, but the Sens seemed to have lost the plot entirely. After a long and tiring period, the Penguins tied the game with less than 3 minutes left. At that point, it was evident that just getting a point would be an accomplishment as the Pens were not slowing down.
Thankfully, after a few more stressful shifts, the Sens were able to close the third period tied and come out with a point.
Fans weren't happy, the players' confidence seemed to have shattered as we entered the overtime period. Erik Karlsson almost scored in the first minute and two offside calls against the Pens disrupted the flow.
The Sens were able to get it close to the Pens zone where Chychrun won a scrambled puck battle against Evgeni Malkin, helping get the puck to Drake Batherson who found Tim Stützle's stick and, by the grace of Alfie, a breathtaking overtime goal was scored.
The Ottawa Senators have won a hockey game.
- There's no denying the third period was atrocious, but we have to be fair that in those first two periods the Sens looked like the team we've been waiting to see for a long time.
- Chychrun is a gift. While he's long been one of the squad's best players, there are games like tonight where he turns up the heat and it changes the dynamic of the entire game.
- Tkachuk owned up to his words and displeasure tonight. This was a great performance from him, underlined by how in control he seemed.
- Hard to think of too many performances where a goalie gives up four while still being "good" but Anton Forsberg was that tonight
- The penalty kill really saved the team after an atrocious outing Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche
- I'm still unsure if that Brännström goal was off-side but I won't question it!
- Congrats to Jacques Martin and Alfie on their first win behind the bench in this second go around with the team. May this win turn into an endless streak.
On behalf of the entire Silver Seven crew, we would like to wish you all Happy Holidays.