Ottawa Senators move into a playoff spot with a win over the San Jose Sharks
Despite more second-period trouble, the Sens beat the Sharks 5-2 and moved past Boston into a playoff position.
Coming off a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sens faced off against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night, with a playoff spot on the line. Andrew "Hamburglar" Hammond got the start in net for Ottawa, while Antti Niemi was between the pipes for San Jose.
The first period got off to a bit of a slow start, with each team managing only two shots within the first five minutes. While the pace was pretty fast, both teams struggled to get their shots to the net.
Ottawa opened the scoring about 14 minutes into the game, when Mike Hoffman sent a floating puck to the net, and Mika Zibanejad tipped it past Niemi. Bobby Ryan picked up his 200th career assist on that goal. Although it seemed at times like the Sens were dominating the play, shots in the first 20 minutes were 10-10. The period wrapped with Ottawa up 1-0.
The Sens would hold off their typical second-period collapse for the first half of the period. Both teams exchanged a handful of scoring chances early on, including a great shot from Hoffman off a pass from Zibanejad in the slot. Shortly after, Brent Burns walked in from the point and beat Hammond, but not the post.
One of Ottawa's best chances came almost half way through the period, when a shot from Alex Chiasson and subsequent rebound shot from Cody Ceci led to the puck almost trickling in past Niemi. Tommy Wingels made a diving play to keep the puck out at the last second.
After Mark Borowiecki took a tripping penalty just over 12 minutes into the period, Joe Pavelski put the Sharks on the board, knocking in a rebound while diving through the crease. Seconds later, 29 to be exact, Chris Tierney beat Hammon with a backhand shot in the slot off a pass from Wingels. Just like that, it was 2-1 for the Sharks.
It looked like the bleeding wasn't over for the Sens when they were staring down a 4-on-1 drive from the Sharks a few minutes later. Justin Braun would take an interference penalty on Alex Chiasson during that play, sending Ottawa to the power play. San Jose had just as many scoring chances on that power play as Ottawa did, and the score remained 2-1.
Thankfully, the second period would come to an end, and so would the Sens' meltdown. Just over two minutes into the third, Mika Zibanejad scored his second of the night by stealing the puck from Tierney in front of the net and beating Niemi. Hoffman and Ryan picked up assists (again) and the Sens were back in the game.
It didn't take long to realize that the second period was a thing of the past, and the Sens were back in full force. Within the first five minutes of the third, Ottawa managed to generate eight shots, and a plethora of scoring chances (see Alex Chiasson).
Sens fans received a little scare half way through the period, when Logan Couture crashed into Ottawa's net, leaving Hammond slow to get up. He would shake it off, as fans continued to hold a collective breath.
All worries would be put to bed just minutes later, when Alex Chiasson tipped a shot past Niemi, putting the Sens up 3-2. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored under a minute later off a 3-on-1 drive from the Sens. Pageau fed Karlsson the puck, who returned the favour, leaving Pageau nothing but net. After Kyle Turris hit the post on an empty net, Mike Hoffman would not make the same mistake, scoring his 26th goal this season with under two minutes to go. This series of events also led to two warnings from Stuntman Stu to the crowd about throwing burgers on the ice during the game, much to the dismay of Curtis Lazar.
That would wrap things up, giving the Sens the win and moving them one point above Boston into a playoff spot!
Sens Hero: Mika Zibanejad
With two goals on the night, Zibanejad was one of the best players for the Sens. Ottawa has relied heavily on him as of late. Given how scared fans were when he blocked a shot and left the game late in the third, it's safe to say this team needs him now more than ever. Luckily, it looks like he will be alright. Breathe, Sens fans. Breathe.
Sens Hero: Alex Chiasson
It looked like Chiasson couldn't buy a goal in the third period, despite many scoring chances. He finally scored the game-winning goal, from which the Sens would not look back.
Honourable Mention: Condra - Pageau - Lazar Line
This line combined for 13 shots on goal tonight, and provided much needed energy during key points in the game. Pageau scored the insurance goal towards the end of the third, prompting burger throwing and "PAGEAU" chants from the crowd.
Sens Killer: The Second Period
The second period was, once again, one the Sens and their fans would like to forget. While their collapse wouldn't start until about half-way through the period, they gave up two goals in 29 seconds, and almost threw the game away in that short time. San Jose completely dominated the play at times, and the Sens were lucky to hold on and not let this game run away from them.
Shot Chart from ESPN:
Game Flow from Natural Stat Trick: