There’s a lot on the line for the Ottawa Senators this month. Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel... the pending UFA trio just so happened to be the same players that stepped it up in this game for Ottawa.
The Sens broke their five-game losing streak on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks, although they were in for a much bigger challenge against the Winnipeg Jets. Anders Nilsson held down the fort while the star forwards piled on the goals, resulting in a 5-2 Sens win.
Ottawa got off to a quick start, registering five shots on goal before the Jets could get their first. They also managed to get on the board first, with Mark Stone scoring just over two minutes in. The Jets couldn’t complete their passes, and Ottawa recovered the puck. Backup goalie Laurent Brossoit wasn’t completely square to the shooter, and Stone found the gap between his pad and the post to give the Sens the early lead. Ottawa was up 1-0, as the Jets players got a glimpse of their future teammate.
Speaking of trade bait, Ryan Dzingel scored the second goal of the game. Fresh off the bench, an unintended pass by Cody Ceci went right to his stick. His accurate shot went post-and-in, giving Ottawa a more solid lead heading into first intermission.
Remember when Dzingel used to be criticized for his finishing ability? All of that seems to be dispelled, as he’s on pace for 32 goals this season. He’s now two away from tying his career-high of 23 goals from last season.
With the second period underway, the Jets pressured the Sens deep into their zone and maintained control. That was cut for a moment as Thomas Chabot sprung Brady Tkachuk for a great chance, although the Jets countered quickly. Cody Ceci had to defend a two-on-one, and Patrik Laine passed the puck to Bryan Little for the one-timer, cutting the Sens’ lead in half.
Then the pressure started to shift. Dzingel’s hard-fought individual effort didn’t beat Brossoit, but he drew penalty. The Sens got to work quickly on the power play, and regained their two-goal lead. The goal scorer? Mark Stone, again.
Unlike the previous goal where Brossoit had no chance, this one went past his chest where he could’ve had it covered. It was a Stone shot from the circle, and Ottawa had all the momentum.
With Jets scouts filling the Canadian Tire Center, I wouldn’t have blamed Kevin Cheveldayoff if he tried to trade for Stone mid-game. Have him switch jerseys during intermission, see what happens. Would the Jets be allowed to adjust their roster mid-game? If he scored another goal for the Jets, would it count as a hat trick? These are the questions we need answered.
It’s February. The trade deadline is on every hockey fan’s mind, especially for Sens fans. Stone had two goals, Dzingel had one, it would only make sense that... of course.
With a scuffle in front, Matt Duchene banged home the puck to make the game 4-1. Playing in his 700th career game, he extended his goal streak to three games, with points in eleven of his last thirteen.
The Jets scouts must’ve been salivating.
The Sens headed into the third period with a comfy 4-1 lead. This was the Sens hockey we expected to see at the beginning of the season — the stars were buzzing, yet they were simultaneously on pace to allow 50 shots on goal.
The Jets didn’t quite hit 50 by the end, but judging by the way they puppeteered the Sens in the third period, it was a small miracle. Winnipeg tried to juice every last ounce of energy out of each Sens line, but Anders Nilsson, making his second consecutive start, kept the Sens alive.
And if the Jets hadn’t already done a good enough impression of the Carolina Hurricanes (getting all the shots but none of the goals), they allowed another one with five minutes left. Ottawa’s fifth was courtesy of Zack Smith, who fired a shot past Brossoit to make the game 5-1. Smith was previously on a goal drought, having not scored in his last 22 games. It was his first goal of 2019.
The Jets countered with their own goal off the faceoff minutes later, with Josh Morrissey scoring his seventh of the year. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Sens held for the 5-2 victory.
- I’m at the point with Mark Stone where I just sit back and appreciate his excellence, since any game this month could be his last as a Senator. We know he’s amazing every game, but this one might’ve been one of his best.
- Anders Nilsson has now put up a string of solid games, stopping 89 of his last 91 shots faced. Will Boucher continue to run with him? Or will it turn into a shared crease with Craig Anderson?
- Ben Harpur fought Brendan Lemieux in the first period. *shrugs*
- The penalty kill continues to be solid, wiping away all three Jets power plays. Ary discussed the improvements in the game preview, and it’s really showed./
The home stand finishes this Tuesday, when they host the Carolina Hurricanes. It will be Love Is Love night at the Canadian Tire Center, simultaneously celebrating Valentine’s Day and Hockey Is For Everyone Month.
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