Sens defeat toothless Sharks with goal in final 3 seconds

Despite dominating play, the Sens needed some late Tarasenko magic

Sens defeat toothless Sharks with goal in final 3 seconds
Photo by Kelsey K / Unsplash

They say it doesn't matter how you win them, but the stress from this one will linger. Despite outshooting the Sharks 41–18, a Sharks goal with under three minutes left had it looking like the Sens might give away what should've been an easy 2 points. But then an extended offensive zone shift allowed Vladimir Tarasenko to put home the game-winner with just 3 seconds left. Sure, it's probably a meaningless win, but the relief on the Sens' faces showed how much it meant to them to break the five-game losing streak.

It was Star Wars night in Ottawa, and I considered filling this recap with Star Wars puns for about 10 seconds before I realized that was more work that I wanted to put in to recapping a team that hasn't put in hard work in weeks. So I'll just put in a couple notes here, that Norris was out again with the the Upper-Body Injury Strikes Back, but we all saw the Return of the Chartier.

This one started out pretty well for the Sens, taking the first several shots, and scoring the game's first two goals. First it was some hard offensive zone work letting Claude Giroux break the ice:

Then, after Mark Kastelic probably scored but no camera angle could see the puck under Mackenzie Blackwood's pad, Thomas Chabot blasted home his first goal in 294 days:

From there though, the Sharks responded. They clawed one back in the first period off the stick of former Senator Anthony Duclair, and then the second period opened with Marc-Édouard Vlasic scoring his first goal in more than a year, and the Kevin Labanc scoring on the widest-openest net you'll ever see. Incidentally, those goals were the Sharks' only two shots of the period until 1:50 left. It felt like the rails were falling off, but then something happens that never happens—the Sens responded to a goal against with a goal of their own.

Then the Sens retook the lead off the stick of Drake Batherson. The game was becoming a bit of a roller coaster.

Most of the third period was Ottawa pressure, but they couldn't score. I felt that mounting pressure of when you have all the chances but don't score, eventually the other team scores. And sure enough, with just 3 minutes left, Filip Zadina put a one-timer behind Joonas Korpisalo. It was hard to fault Korpi, but also, you'd like to see a save on just the fifth shot of the period. It felt like the kind of game the Sens could easily throw away. But yet another extended bit of pressure in the dying minute led to Tarasenko getting a loose puck in front with a handful of seconds left and potting the game winner.

A win is a win, but after five losses on the road, it was nice to see the players and the coaches smile after finally getting back in the win column.

My Thoughts:

  • Boy, it's nice to see Stützle get the monkey off his back. Four assists, but even more importantly, he looked confident again. It was great to see him no longer completely frustrated with himself.
  • Jakob Chychrun looks like his decision-making is slightly slow. The obvious example was the Vlasic goal, where he got the puck on a Sens cycle, hesitated about passing, shooting, or putting it back in deep, and ended up just losing it and allowing a 2-on-1 the other way. His inability to clear the zone late in the third led to Zadina's tying goal. He's done this a few times recently, which seems so out of character. I remember being so impressed with his confidence and hand-eye coordination when he joined the Sens. I wonder if there's a nagging injury, or if it's just fatigue given he's played 100% of the team's games this year, and his career average is 67% (and his career high is 77%, from his rookie year).
  • Erik Brännström is so good at moving the puck and skating. I noticed him a few times in tonight's game. I really think the Sens benefit from having him on defence, just because he gets the puck going the other way in a way that Hamonic or JBD don't.
  • The Sens powerplay seems to operate like there's a shot clock. If the team doesn't get a shot within their first five passes, they take the unscreened shot from the D-man at the blueline. I get the importance of not getting too pretty, but couldn't the Sens do better than a shot from the farthest distance possible inside the blueline? Why not the guy at the edge of the circle taking a similar shot? Why not waiting until there's traffic in front instead of taking the shot regardless of traffic? I'm no powerplay tactician, but it seems like teams are happy to let Chabot or Sanderson take a low-risk shot from a mile away, allowing the goalie to freeze the puck to set up a line change and chance to reclaim possession off a faceoff.
  • Rourke Chartier seemed to have jump tonight. I think I'll really like him on the fourth line, assuming Pinto and Norris are both back on the ice soon.
  • San Jose are the worst team in the league this year, and so this game can't be a measuring stick. Still, you like to see the Sens more than double them in shots and dominate the flow of play, the way they absolutely should. If anything it's amazing how big the gap looks between 29th and 32nd in the league. San Jose are doing this tank thing impeccably.

Game Flow:

Heat Map:

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