For about 41 minutes, it looked like one of the Ottawa Senators’ worst performances of the season.
Falling behind 5-0 to the Vancouver Canucks, it appeared as if it was all over but the crying. But a furious rally, led by Max Verroneau and Brady Tkachuk brought the Senators to within a goal.
Despite the drama, it would be the Canucks that finished the game off, scoring a late goal and adding an empty-netter to beat the Senators 7-4.
To start the game, the Senators looked relatively solid. They struggled to establish much time on attack in the Vancouver zone, but they weren’t playing the whole period in their end either. The Tkachuk-Pageau-Veronneau line looked quick on the forecheck, and was easily Ottawa’s best combo.
The Canucks, similar to Ottawa, couldn’t sustain much of an attack. Their top six moved the puck with speed, and got shots to Anders Nilsson, but couldn’t seem to draw any blood.
With the game going back in forth, both teams tried to wrestle momentum for the other.
It was Vancouver that would strike first. At 14:06, with Cody Ceci serving a hooking penalty, Bo Horvat tipped Alex Edler’s point shot, and it bounced off the inside of Nilsson’s legs and in the goal.
It initially appeared that Josh Leivo got a piece of it in front, but Horvat’s goal it stayed.
The Senators ended the first period down 1-0, and trailing in SOG 14-7.
The second marked the beginning of a downward spiral for Ottawa. Just 32 seconds in, Ben Harpur made an ill-advised jump to the neutral zone, leaving one Ottawa defender back to protect the goal. On a bizarre-looking play, Tanner Pearson batted a dump-in from centre out of mid-air, past Anders Nilsson.
It looked like the play may have been offside, but Marc Crawford held tight to his Coach’s Challenge, and the score remained 2-0 Vancouver.
Just over five minutes later, Christian Jaros made a bad pinch into the Vancouver end. Zack Smith, who was back to support, failed to make the proper read, and Christian Wolanin was left stranded on a 2on1. Jake Virtanen streaked in with the puck, and rifled home a quick shot to make it 3-0.
Ohhhh boy, here we go again.
A little bit of venom was injected to the game in the latter part of the second. Zack Smith was drilled from behind into the boards by Virtanen. There was no call on the play, and a scrum ensued. Cooler heads prevailed, and both teams escaped without minor penalties.
Frankly, it should have been a penalty. It was a full-blown crosscheck on the numbers. Marc Crawford was visibly less-than-pleased.
You can probably guess how this goes, it’s been that kind of year.
Brock Boeser’s powerplay shot from the top of the circle beat Anders Nilsson, and after Ottawa should have had a powerplay of their own, they were down 4-0.
The heat began to rise, with Pageau even challenging Troy Stetcher to a fight, but the period ended with Vancouver up 4-0.
With no sign of things turning around, Jaros made a brutal turnover to open the third, and Tanner Pearson capitalized with his second of the game just 57 seconds into the third.
Then, the rally started.
After killing off a Brady Tkachuk penalty, the Senators finally got on the board at 8:54. Dylan DeMelo made a nice feed to the left of Jacob Markstrom, and Max Verroneau deflected the puck by the Vancouver goaltender for his first NHL goal.
Not to be outdone, Tkachuk would make it 5-2 just over a minute later. Finishing off a great no-look pass from Pageau.
Ottawa, sensing the momentum building, began to press the attack. And Oscar Lindberg converted on a beautiful pass from Bobby Ryan to cut the Vancouver lead to 5-3.
Tyler Motte would take a slashing penalty at 16:15, sending the Senators to the powerplay at a crucial point in the game.
Finally, with just 14 seconds remaining on the powerplay. Anthony Duclair took a shot from the top of the circle to Markstrom’s right, and the puck would just barely skitter over the goalline, making it a one-goal game.
Alas, ‘twas not to be.
Off a faceoff in the Ottawa end, Horvat would deflect his second of the game past Nilsson. Making it 6-4 and ending Ottawa’s bid for an epic comeback.
Loui Eriksson would chip in an empty-netter, and the Senators would fall to a final score of 7-4.
It was 40 abysmal minutes for the Senators, before they finally woke up and played ome of their best periods of the year. Despite the dreadful start, kudos to a young team for showing some fight, and making a game out of this one.
It’s something to build on.
- Brady Tkachuk was far and away Ottawa’s best player. He’s leading by example, amazing to see from a 19 year-old.
- Max Verroneau looked stellar, and was awarded with his first NHL goal. This kid looks like a player.
- Christian Wolanin had another solid night, despite being bloodied by a puck to the mouth in the game’s dying minutes. He appeared fine, and even took the game-deciding shift directly after.
- Cody Ceci was injured in the first period, and did not return. Expect a defenceman to be called up tomorrow./