Well, that was a bloodbath...is probably what you said upon turning the game off shortly after the start of the third period. Don’t worry though, I’m here to tell you guys that the Ottawa Senators finished tonight’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights on a high note. It definitely didn't start out that way, though.
Tonight’s game marked the long-awaited return of the one-and-only Mark Stone, as well as former San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer’s first game with the Knights. Determined to remind everyone who the front-page news really is tonight, Stone got himself on the scoresheet 34 seconds into the game, assisting on a give-and-go goal by Paul Stastny. It’s a friendly reminder to us fans of just how good Stone is at making simple offensive plays, not just the wicked deflections and takeaways he’s well known for.
A few minutes later, we were treated to a tribute video worthy of a fan-favourite elite NHL player.
Welcome back, Mark Stone! pic.twitter.com/xohZ3DvxzV— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 17, 2020
It’s a fantastic montage highlighting all of Stone’s most clutch moments (you know the OT winner against Pittsburgh made the cut), with the only complaint from me being the fact that the Senators have put out so many of these videos recently. Less of those, and more of these, please:
w8 for it... pic.twitter.com/PQbT9F0gzB— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 19, 2019
Ottawa had taken a penalty on the prior play, but they did a good job killing it off before the pace was turned up, as both teams generated shot attempts at a higher pace. Predictably, Vegas went on to outshoot Ottawa to the tune of 17-10 in the period, and led 26-14 in 5v5 attempts.
The second period brought about more of the same, as the Knights continued to dominate. The Senators did manage to get some great looks at Marc-Andre Fleury, particularly on a power-play drawn by Tyler Ennis. Connor Brown had a fantastic opportunity to tie the game at the side of the net, but he was foiled...by Mark Stone. Again. Then, with around two minutes to go, this happened:
I’v always given credit to Pierre Dorion when it’s due, his “proudest day as a GM” will forever be a major part of his legacy as a GM.
With two-thirds of the game over and the Knights up in shots 36-19 (!), the Senators would need their best effort of the season to have a chance of victory. They did manage to open the third period with a strong push before drawing a penalty, however they were sloppy and Chabot made a cross-seam pass to Chandler Stephenson in the neutral zone, who promptly skated in on a breakaway and beat Anderson to give Vegas a 3-0 lead. Ouch.
Ottawa would refuse to give up, however, and kept the fans entertained right until the bitter end. First, a minute after Stephenson’s tally, C. Brown took a hit to give Chris Tierney and Vladislav Namestnikov on a quality scoring chance. Tierney made a slick move to dangle Alex Tuch before finding Namestnikov on the back door, who made no mistake:
Replay of Namestnikov's goal from Tierney and Brown pic.twitter.com/S11B3CsKQi— OSNL (@OSNL11) January 17, 2020
Unfortunately, the Senators proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot, as Anderson misplayed the puck behind the net, leading to an open net for Ryan Reaves, who made it 4-1 Vegas. Ottawa would not get discouraged, however, as they avenged their previous awful power-play with a much better one, and their quick puck-movement led to a goal from C. Brown:
The Senators would draw yet another power play, and with Anderson pulled for the extra attacked, they threw everything, and I mean everything, at Fleury. The shot attempts at all situations had gone from 59-29 VGK after forty minutes, to 67-61 VGK after sixty. Although the score remained 4-2 at the end, tonight’s game, originally shaping up to be one of the worst of the season, ended up being business as usual for the plucky underdogs. The final shot tally was 43-35, in favour of the Golden Knights.
- Craig Anderson may have shot himself in the foot on the Knights’ fourth goal, but overall he was the reason the game was only 2-0 after the second period.
- Anthony Duclair looked like he was playing injured in some previous games, and tonight was a return to form for him. He was back to his usual self, creating chances by using his ridiculous speed to get around defenders multiple times.
- Ennis looked solid tonight as well, particularly when protecting the puck in the offensive zone. While his size can be taken advantage of, he changes his direction very quickly, and so he’s able to create space for himself and open up passing lanes to nearby teammates.
- I’m starting to think that Mike Reilly could carve out a permanent role in Ottawa. His strongest tools are his skating and puck control; on two separate occasions he carried the puck from end-to-end and generated a shot on goal. He, like Namestnikov, could end up being another shrewd acquisition for Pierre Dorion./
A dominant game from Vegas overall, with Ottawa showing some resilience in the 3rd.
Vegas seemed to have no particular preference for shot location, while Ottawa focused primarily around the net.
- The Sens host the Calgary Flames on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 4:00 PM EST. Despite the good that comes from losing games this season, they’ll be looking to avoid losing their tenth straight game this season./