It seems none of these supposedly good hockey teams have an answer for first-line center Derick Brassard. Yes, you’d think after three straight wins with Josh Norris and Tim Stützle out of commission, this would be when a club broke through. The Detroit Red Wings simply weren’t up to the task today, as the Ottawa Senators leveraged their special teams to secure a 6-3 victory, their fourth-straight victory, in fact, bringing their record to 14-14-2.
Detroit would actually strike first 2:32 into the game, as Cam Talbot only got a piece of Joe Veleno’s attempt with the blocker, with the puck trickling into the back of the net.
Things wouldn't get much easier from there, as although Dylan Gambrell nearly found the back of the net off a nice pass from Rourke Chartier, Derick Brassard took a holding penalty on Veleno. The Sens penalty killers do a great job in the first minute but allow several shots on goal in the second.
Shortly after that up-and-down penalty kill, the team’s second line of Shane Pinto, Drake Batherson, and Alex DeBrincat quickly brought the puck into the offensive zone. From a very tough angle, Batherson found a gap above the shoulder of Ville Husso and fired the puck into the top corner to tie the game at 1-1.
At that point, I thought that would be it for the wacky goals, but Adam Erne proved me wrong in short order, as a point shot deflected off of him and into the net to make it 2-1 Detroit.
Late in the period, Brady Tkachuk, Dylan Gambrell, and Rourke Chartier had a decent offensive possession which led to a power-play. Ottawa’s white-hot top unit went to work, showing flashes of the wizardry we saw in previous games, but it was a routine point shot from Thomas Chabot that ended up tying the game at two.
The Sens got another power play shortly after, but it was the Red Wings that almost scored in hilarious fashion, as Cam Talbot gave the puck to a Detroit player right after the whistle blew.
Early in the second period with the game at 2-2, Ben Chiarot, who GM of the Year candidate Steve Yzerman gave a four-year deal worth $4.75M/year this past offseason, took an interference penalty while still a man down from the earlier call. Ottawa couldn’t take the lead with the two-man advantage, but Batherson netted his second of the game with Chiarot still in the box. Imagine Travis Hamonic, but worse, more expensive, and with three extra years on his contract. Yikes.
Drake Batherson scores his second of the game to give Ottawa the lead! He has 11 points in his last 7 games. #GoSensGo— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 17, 2022
DeBrincat adds another assist. He has back-to-back 3 assist outings, and 13 points in his last 8 games.
Tkachuk also has 2 assists today. pic.twitter.com/ZIkERKFEd1
The Sens held DET without a shot for the first 8:42 of the frame, but turnovers from Mark Kastelic and Parker Kelly created a ton of zone time for the Red Wings. Fortunately, only a single shot was allowed on Talbot.
A couple of self-inflicted wounds would gift momentum back to the Red Wings, as halfway through the period, Erik Brännström cleared the puck straight out of play, and while killing off the ensuing penalty, quite expertly, I might add, Parker Kelly opted to play the puck that was coming to him instead of heading to the bench, with Austin Watson jumping off to replace him.
Filip Hronek was given credit for the game-tying marker after a patient 5-on-3, but this was as close to an own goal as you can get without going full Dante Fabbro.
Czech out this release by Filip Hronek. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Wc1sxYW8dI— NHL (@NHL) December 17, 2022
Ottawa would kill off the remainder of the penalty, but they weren’t out of the woods just yet. With no teammates behind him, Pinto turned the puck over in his own end, only to dive and knock the puck away at the last second to stop an opposing breakaway, before another Sens’ power play which looked much worse than before. In other words, still decent.
Then, with under a minute to go in the frame, Brännström turned over the puck and took a hooking penalty on Michael Rasmussen, which upon looking at it again...yeah no.
Although they killed off the penalty in the third period, the Senators found themselves under pressure early on but were able to get a break after Rasmussen tripped up Kelly, giving Ottawa their fifth power-play of the game.
Brady attempted the between-the-legs yet again, and for the first time, it actually did something! Well, Giroux was the one to score, but close enough! The chaos generated by the captain in front of the net allowed for the wealth of time Giroux had to pick his spot and give Ottawa the lead once again.
Ottawa had been even less disciplined throughout this game, as Holden took the team’s sixth minor penalty, but just as I was thinking to myself about how Tyler Motte was doing a hell of a job of killing off the penalty, he took a well-timed pass from Kelly on a 2-on-1 to double the lead.
The patience from Parker Kelly here is really impressive.— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) December 17, 2022
Shorthanded chance and he showed a ton of poise and skill to slide that puck across to Tyler Motte. https://t.co/ZJyoCQTJat
Austin Watson would add an empty-net goal on yet another Sens’ penalty, which means they’ve scored more shorthanded goals today than they’ve done at even-strength. Cam Talbot stopped 29 of 32, and special teams accounted for five goals in Ottawa’s 6-3 win over the Red Wings, improving to 8-2-1 in their last eleven, while the latter are 2-6-2 in their last ten.
And they’ve still got a few more flights of stairs to fall down before they end up where they truly belong in the standings, thank Alfie it’s finally happening.
- I guess this is what you call regression to the mean. Alex DeBrincat has caught fire, with an eight-game point streak including 3 goals and 10 assists. There was speculation in some circles about how his scoring was a product of playing with Patrick Kane in Chicago, but I think the opposite effect has happened in the case of his playmaking. He wasn’t passing the puck as much before because he never needed to, but this year he’s found success without relying on his shot.
- The power-play has of course been the catalyst for this four-game win streak, but the penalty kill shouldn’t go unnoticed, especially with 5 successful kills on 6 attempts. They’ve missed Tyler Motte for sure. He’s been deployed throughout the year in a third-line role, which I don’t think is where he should be on a good team, but if they can elevate a prospect or two and move him to the fourth line, that would make the bottom-six look much better than it’s been in the past.
- Speaking of bottom-six contributions, Rourke Chartier and Dylan Gambrell combined for a decent chance in the first period and drew the penalty that led to Chabot’s game-tying goal. Depth players chipping in like this is mandatory if you want to win games without your top two centers.
- D.J. Smith’s system has generated tons of offense for Ottawa this year, but they’ve also allowed a lot of shots, including more high-danger chances than the average team. With the solid goaltending and embarrassing finishing, he’s done well to get his team to adjust, improving their defense even if it means sacrificing a bit of offense. Nikita Zaitsev has also helped by providing Thomas Chabot with a serviceable substitute in the absence of Artem Zub. Could also leave them together when he returns and try Zub with Jake Sanderson, know what I’m saying?/
Stats (per NaturalStatTrick)
- It’s the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow, December 18th, against the Minnesota Wild. Note the 2:00 PM EST start time, another afternoon contest./