Ottawa Senators. Toronto Maple Leafs. Game 7. Well...the seventh game of the 2020-21 season. Each team had won three times in this season series, so it sort of counts!
The Senators came into tonight going 3-0-2 in their last five games and had won the last meeting against the Leafs on March 14th, 4-3. They had played the night before in a win against the Flames, and they had been much worse on the second half of back-to-back games this season.
The first period against Toronto wasn’t too eventful for a game between two rivals, although the refs missed one of the funniest things you’ll see: the Senators played with six skaters for a good 10 seconds:
The Ottawa Senators had 6 players on the ice— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 25, 2021
Ottawa was extremely lucky to get out of that without a penalty, although they still went to the box three times in the first period, twice thanks to Thomas Chabot. On the second penalty for Chabot, the Senators were nearing the end of their own powerplay with under 3 minutes to play, and Evgenii Dadonov whiffed on a pass to Chabot. That whiff led to Chabot making a diving slash on a streaking Ilya Mikheyev, which actually might have saved a goal.
The Senators penalty kill was effective against the Leafs though, and Chris Tierney’s pressure on Jack Campbell led to a massive gift:
Connor Brown wasn’t going to miss that open net, and the Senators were up 1-0 after 20 minutes despite not controlling much of the play, with the overall attempts being 22-11 for Toronto.
The second period saw more of the same, as Anton Forsberg continued his solid play in his Senators debut. Clark Bishop, Josh Norris, and Tim Stützle all had good chances on the rush (including a nifty move from Norris that would’ve been on Sportscentre Top-10), but Ottawa couldn’t add to their lead. There weren’t even any penalties to speak of until the end of the period, which made the game more closed off than usual.
With 5:20 to go in the period, the Leafs got some luck back as TJ Brodie’s deflection on the rush went off the post, then ricocheted off Mikheyev’s chest and in. It was initially called off by the referee because I assume he thought it was batted in by a high stick, but the review made it pretty clear that it was a good goal. Morgan Rielly would later take a cross-checking penalty at the end of the period to give Ottawa a good chance to re-take the lead, but some close chances from Nick Paul, Josh Norris, and others weren’t enough. It was 1-1 after 40 minutes.
The final frame was tense, as Toronto knew they needed to finish off the Senators.
With just under 10 minutes to play, Ottawa won the faceoff in their own zone, but Chabot failed to get the puck up the boards. Alex Kerfoot perfectly timed his interception of the puck and he was able to quickly shovel it over to Jason Spezza. Spezza’s one-timer deflected off Nikita Zaitsev, giving Forsberg no chance on Toronto’s second goal of the game. However, Ottawa wasn’t going down without a fight.
Just two and a half minutes later, Alex Formenton would be the one to keep the team alive. Braydon Coburn’s dump-in led to an intense forecheck from Bishop and Dzingel, which again led to some iffy puck-handling from Campbell as he tried to thwart their efforts. Because of that forecheck, Formenton was able to slide the puck five-hole, tying the game at 2:
That goal was good enough to send the game to overtime, with the Senators picking up a point for the 6th game in a row.
In overtime, the Leafs had plenty of chances and it looked like only a matter of time before they were going to get the extra point. With 30 seconds to play, Chabot had a glorious opportunity to get the puck up the ice with Batherson and Formenton, but his egregious pass was easily intercepted by Auston Matthews. Matthews barely missed a goal of his own on a beautiful move, but Mitch Marner picked up his rebound, fed it out to an open Justin Holl, and Forsberg had no chance.
With just 18 seconds left in overtime, the Leafs ended it by a score of 3-2.
Turnover leads to a nice Matthews chance and Holl finishes. Leafs win 3-2. pic.twitter.com/IRo6gzGq27— Alex Metzger (@nhlsensandstuff) March 26, 2021
After the goal, Pierre Dorion had an...interesting reaction:
Presented without comment. pic.twitter.com/1DR8syWywv— Brandon Maki (@BrandonMaki_) March 26, 2021
I have a feeling that is going to go down as one of the funniest memes in the Sens community.
- It was great to see the damage that the speed of Formenton, Bishop, and Dzingel can do. All three of their elite forechecks led to the tying goal.
- Forsberg kept them in the game, as Toronto deserved to win in regulation. He stopped 35 of 38 shots, good for a .927 SV%. Goalie controversy, anyone?
- Chabot’s turnover on the game-winning goal was inexcusable. It seems he’s had a lot of those this season, and perhaps he’s trying too hard to carry this defense corps. He played 31:18 tonight, which is just way too much.
- Dadonov looks lost on the powerplay, which is crazy to say because he was their best powerplay weapon coming into the season. He always seems to be flubbing on passes and looks weak, but I’m not sure how they can fix that.
- Norris’ creativity seems to be getting better, as he is making more skilled plays. He led the team with 7 shot attempts tonight.
- Only Batherson (52%) and Stützle (50%) were above 50% in corsi, and only Josh Brown (50.44%) was above 50% on expected goals, so not a great night for controlling the play./
The Senators would have been playing this Sunday in Montreal, but due to quarantine rules for the Canadiens, that has been postponed. Instead, Ottawa won’t play until Tuesday at home against the Canadiens at 7:00 EDT.