I did not have high expectations for this game. The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently at the top of the NHL and the Ottawa Senators are… not. Also, the Sens tend to lose every game I recap, although to be fair it’s not like they’re winning any of the other games either.
Tonight’s game wasn’t really one that the Sens deserved to win, in the sense that Tampa was very clearly the better team on the ice. That said, it was one of their best efforts in a long time, and it was very encouraging to see them stick with Tampa throughout the entire game instead of digging themselves into a hole right at the beginning, so it did kind of suck to see them miss out on getting a second point.
Should we be excited about the one point they did get? Or mad that they ruined the tank (although I’m still sticking to my prediction that this team will definitely go on a winning streak at the worst possible moment and ruin their draft position)? At this point, I wouldn’t blame you for being a bit apathetic toward the team.
Much like the first period of their last game, the start of this one was incredibly exciting and refreshing. The Sens actually had some jump to their play, and both Stone and Hoffman got good scoring chances right off the bat. The lightning kept the play fairly even, but it was still clear that the Senators were not going to give up just yet. They would give up eventually, of course, as they always do, but not quite yet.
The Sens got the first lead of the game with the luckiest of lucky bounces, when Karlsson walked around a few opposing players and dished the puck to Bobby Ryan, who very nearly deked out the Tampa Bay goalie. Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi picked up Ryan’s rebound and bounced the puck off his own player’s shin pad, straight into the Lightning net. It was incredible and hilarious and the first lucky bounce the Sens had gotten in a very long time. Had their bad luck finally run out? Was the losing streak finally about to end?
In fairness, Ottawa did continue to play reasonably well throughout the rest of the first period. They somehow managed to kill off a Lightning powerplay, and very nearly scored another goal at the end during a two man advantage. Let’s be real, though. Ottawa was never going to score on a two man advantage. They probably never will.
The second period is where things began to fall apart. While the Sens got a couple of decent scoring chances, Tampa Bay was very clearly the better team, as they peppered the Ottawa net with shots and maintained possession throughout most of the frame. I don’t think anyone was surprised when they finally evened the score.
A few things to note on that goal: 1) Ceci was on the ice, of course, and 2) It went off the shin pad of a Lightning player, just like the first Ottawa goal. Clearly, there’s something magical about those shin pads they’re wearing. Maybe the Sens need to hit up Tampa’s equipment manager. Or maybe not. They tend to spend a lot more time hovering around their own net than the opposing one.
The scene felt achingly familiar to anyone who’s been watching the Sens during this losing streak, so it came as a huge surprise when Ottawa actually responded with a goal, courtesy of none other than Cody Ceci. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the biggest Ceci fan, but that goal was gorgeous and I definitely think that Claesson makes a much better partner for him than Phaneuf.
Unfortunately, the momentum did not hold, as the Lightning evened the score once again and the two teams entered the third period tied at two.
Any hope that the Sens would pull themselves together during the intermission was quickly crushed as we were treated to a Tampa Bay Lightning 5 on 5 Power Play. The Sens quickly got trapped in their own zone and were forced to rely on Craig Anderson to make a few superhuman saves.
Ottawa did get a lucky break, however, when Ryan Dzingel drew a slashing penalty, sending them to the power play. This wouldn’t normally be a particularly exciting thing, but Ottawa has actually been looking a lot better with the man advantage lately. This time, it only took a few seconds for Erik Karlsson to send a laser of a shot through traffic and into the Tampa Bay net. It was one of those trademark Erik Karlsson shots, where you look at the replay and say “how exactly did that go in?” The goal was later given to Derick Brassard, which I found incredibly rude. How dare they take away Karlsson’s goal?
Now, I don’t think you have to be a genius to look at that Lightning roster and come to the conclusion that sitting on a one goal lead early in the third period might not be the best course of action. You need at least a three goal cushion in order to even think about sitting back and defending a lead against this team. Right?
The Sens tried to sit back and protect the lead, but being as bad as they are in their own zone, that essentially resulted in them scrambling around their own net as Tampa Bay had lots of fun creating dangerous scoring chance after dangerous scoring chance. Unsurprisingly, the puck soon ended up at the back of the Ottawa net, and the score was once again even.
Ottawa played much better after that, but not well enough to win the game. Overtime ensued, and was mostly dominated by the Lightning.
Right at the end of overtime, the Sens were assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice, which I have to admit is a very impressive feat when you’re only icing three players. It’s not complicated math, people. This is why hockey players should stay in school.
Overtime solved nothing, though Nikita Kucherov did kind of score a goal right after the buzzer sounded, and it was off to the shootout.
Point scored for Tampa Bay, and Tom Pyatt (?) failed to score for Ottawa. Kucherov broke his stick during his shootout attempt, which was pretty satisfying since there’s a good chance it initially broke on the slapshot he took after the buzzer at the end of overtime. Karma, I guess? Matt Duchene failed to elevate the puck on his shootout attempt, and Steven Stamkos eventually won the game for the Lightning.
Shootouts are meaningless and it’s not like that point really mattered, but it still sucks to lose in that way. We really could have stolen that game.
- Karlsson looked really good tonight, in every sense of the word
- Bobby Ryan had a good game, though he did hurt his hand again
- Craig Anderson was amazing, and it’s very reassuring to see that he’s still capable of playing at an elite level
- Cody Ceci led all defensemen in ice time with 32:54, and I know he scored a goal and all but the Sens were very badly outshot when he was on the ice. I don’t care what you think of him, there is no justification for playing him more than Erik Karlsson. Even if it was his birthday. Remember how much ice time Freddy Claesson got on his birthday?
- Speaking of ice time distribution, why did Chabot get less than 10 minutes on the ice? He looked perfectly fine in those 10 minutes./
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