For fans of the Ottawa Senators, tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets felt like a slap in the face. Only a few hours before puck drop, we had all been eagerly anticipating our seemingly inevitable rise to first in the division, after an exciting win over the Toronto Maple Leafs combined with a Habs loss had put the team only two points behind the Montreal Canadiens.
But now, things could hardly look more bleak. These kinds of games are the worst, because they’re not losses you can easily brush off and convince yourself are just flukes, they’re games that make you wonder about the rest of the season. Our mood hardly would have changed had Pageau’s goal been allowed, because once Hoffman and Stone left the game, the entire outlook of this season shifted, and not for the better.
I’m not going to write this season off yet, because we still don’t know how serious either of the injuries are and there’s still time for Stone and Hoffman to recover even if they are, but man, that game really sucked.
The Jets opened the scoring only a minute into the first period, when Dustin Byfuglien fired one past Condon. The Sens spent significant time in the offensive zone and got a few decent chances, but didn’t quite look like themselves throughout the first frame. Winnipeg scored another goal to go up 2-0, with Laine getting two assists early in the game. Isn’t it an honour to see a top prospect dominate against us? Not like that’s ever happened before.
The Sens had to start the second period without Mike Hoffman, as the left winger left the game with a mysterious lower body injury, the cause of which remains a mystery. Let’s all hope he’s not too seriously injured, because he’s an essential part of Ottawa’s lineup. Since the Sens were already rolling only 11 forwards, Hoffman’s spot was taken by defenseman Fredrik Claesson. Putting Claesson on forward was an interesting decision, as there are plenty of Sens blueliners better suited to the position. Personally, I would have gone with Borowiecki. He does have experience playing forward, after all.
(That was sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.)
Speaking of Borowiecki, the defenseman/forward looked injured after blocking two shots in the same shift, but soon returned to the game, to the surprise of absolutely no one. He’s annoying that way.
A Senators powerplay early in the second led to a goal by Mark Stone, after Karlsson made a nifty play to set him up in the slot. Karlsson’s assist put him at 50 points for the season. The Sens looked considerably better after that, and ended the period down by only one goal.
Winnipeg got one back, however, when Josh Morrissey capitalized on a defensive lapse from Ottawa. The goal bounced off Cody Ceci, who has scored considerably more goals into his own net than into opponents’ nets this season.
The last good thing to come out of the game was a Smith redirection off a Karlsson shot that found the back of the net to once again move the Sens to within one goal. Shortly afterward, Mark Stone ended up on the receiving end of a nasty head shot from Jacob Trouba, and went off to the dressing room looking concussed. Considering this is Stone’s second concussion this season, and that he was hit to the head by Dustin Byfuglien a year ago, Sens fans have good reason to be worried about his health, both in the short term and the long term.
Look, I’m not just saying this because Mark Stone was hurt: those kinds of hits should not be legal. Trouba made an extremely careless and dangerous play and I could not care less if it was intentional or not. If there’s contact to the head, there should be a minimum sentence. This kind of stuff is ruining careers and there is absolutely no point to it.
Of course, because nothing was allowed to go Ottawa’s way, Tommy Wingels also left the game with an apparent injury. Wingels isn’t exactly the most important player on the team, but being down to 8 forwards (or 9, once Neil draws back into the lineup) is a pretty tough situation to be in. We’ve now lost Ryan, Hoffman, Stone and Wingels. That’s rough.
With only a few seconds left in the game, Pageau tapped the puck in past Hellebuyck, but the refs didn’t notice and the buzzer sounded. After review, the play was deemed inconclusive and the goal was waived off, but video replay sure made it look like a goal. It was a fitting end to a terrible game.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
The captain had two assists and generally looked dominant throughout the entire 60 minutes. With the Sens’ two best forwards out, he and Kyle Turris will really have to step up in the coming games if Ottawa is going to keep winning.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
I can’t really put him as a hero since he didn’t play the whole game, but Stone looked pretty good too. I’m really sad about him right now.
Sens Killer: Injuries
Again, I’m just sad about this.