Last season, I was fully convinced the Senators could come back from anything. If they’d been down 5-0 entering the third like they were against the Jets on the weekend, I would’ve thought, “It’s possible. You never know.” Tonight, when Dustin Brown scored with 3:28 left, I thought “It’s all over.” But then Ryan Dzingel tied it up with 10 seconds to go, and the game went to overtime. Of course, the Sens still lost, but watching them fight back to even earn a point after allowing such a heartbreakingly late goal feels good.
The Sens actually started tonight’s tilt against the Kings well. They had the better of the play to start the game. However, the Kings opened the scoring when Tyler Toffoli absolutely walked Ben Harpur. Erik Karlsson couldn’t defend two guys down low, and Tanner Pearson scored into essentially an open cage. Guy Boucher put on his best serious face on the bench, and you worried that it was all going to fall apart. Tired players on a horrendous losing streak can get so deflated after a first period goal like that, especially when you probably didn’t deserve to be behind.
Mercifully, they didn’t fold. The Sens got on the board in the most unimaginable way possible: a powerplay goal by Matt Duchene assisted by Karlsson. Considering how rare each of those things had been recently, it’s only right that all three joined together for a goal. Mike Hoffman deserved some credit for some great work to keep the play alive. Karlsson got the shot in, Bobby Ryan tipped it, and then Matt Duchene had some quick hands to put a not-easy rebound.
The Kings retook the lead five minutes into the second. A long-stretch pass to Alex Iafallo caught Johnny Oduya flat-footed, and Iafallo took advantage of the space to rip a wrister past Mike Condon. But again, the Sens didn’t fold. Gabriel Dumont forechecked well to win the puck back in the offensive zone, Ben Harpur took a point shot, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau blocked it, but then took the puck around a committed Darcy Kuemper to pot a backhand into a wide-open cage. This earned Dumont his first point as a Senator, and Harpur his first point of the year.
The Sens would still hold their own in the second period, and into the third. I expected to watch Ottawa fade as a demoralized team on the second-half of a back-to-back in the midst of a terrible losing streak, but they continued to hold their own. Right up until Dustin Brown’s goal, when he tipped home Christian Folin’s point shot awkwardly. The commentators gave Dusty a lot of credit for it, but I think he got lucky in that it flipped up over Condon’s blocker and then down into the net. That’s not a tip he could succeed at more than once in 20 tries.
Anyway, with L.A. taking the lead with only three minutes to play, I was pretty discouraged. This year’s Sens haven’t been the comeback kids. I was ready to write something about how this one hurts even more, because the Sens came so close to earning a point. And yet, they managed it. With Condon pulled, the Sens set up shop in the offensive zone. Mike Hoffman hit Duchene with a beautiful cross-seam pass, Duchene found Ryan Dzingel in the slot, and Dzingel scored on his own rebound. It was what happens when you put pucks to the net with pressure, and made me wonder why the Sens don’t do that on the powerplay seemingly ever.
It didn’t last long though, with the OT winner coming in just 32 seconds. Anze Kopitar got away with another penalty on the night, wrapping himself around Dzingel to set up a two-on-one the other way. Drew D*****y elected to shoot, and with Condon cheating to the pass side, it worked. The Kings won, and all the Sens fans who said, “I’m happy with even just a point” wondered if it was actually true.
- Duchene and Dzingel look really good together. They set up the tying goal, and Boucher took note by starting them in OT. I think their speed really complements each other.
- Erik Karlsson is slowly creeping back into the player we know him to be. He’s clearly not there yet, but with every game he looks a little more in shape. Nice to see him finally get a secondary assist again.
- Mike Condon was mostly good. Hard to fault him on any of the goals (except maybe the OT winner), and he was solid throughout the rest of the game/
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