Ottawa Senators’ Winning Streak Ends with 4-2 Loss to Minnesota Wild

Anton Forsberg kept them in the game with 37 saves on 40 shots.

The Ottawa Senators entered tonight’s contest against the Minnesota Wild with the goal of sweeping a five-game homestand for the first time in franchise history. After an inconsistent effort that was not without its high points, they unfortunately fell 4-2 to a better hockey team.

Austin Watson got things started with a fight against Brandon Duhaime in the opening seconds, and things were pretty even from there, up until the first goal of the game, courtesy of Alex DeBrincat.

Following a classic forced turnover by Ottawa, the puck bounced all over the zone in an elusive fashion, but true to his nickname, the Cat pounced and devoured his prey to give Ottawa a 1-0 lead.

A couple of minutes later, however, Artem Zub took an interference penalty on Marcus Foligno to send Minnesota to the power-play.

The Wild did a nice job of moving the puck around the zone before a Mats Zuccarello point shot found its way past Anton Forsberg, who was screened by Joel Eriksson Ek, to tie the game at 1-1.

As the period progressed, the Wild would keep the Sens pinned in their own end for extending periods of time. After one such extended stay, Kirill Kaprizov, in the midst of a battle in front of the net against Erik Brannstrom, expertly deflected a point shot past Anton Forsberg to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.

Ottawa was able to generate a bit of momentum before the intermission. DeBrincat had his third chance of the game right in front of the net, but was thwarted by Marc-Andre Fleury, armed with the same glove hand that ended Mike Babcock’s coaching career.

Ultimately, DeBrincat had the bulk of Ottawa’s good opportunities, while they otherwise were outplayed by the Wild through 20 minute; with Minnesota holding a 14-9 edge in shots on goal. This is where Minnesota’s poor record can deceive you, as they’re historically a dominant 5-on-5 team that’s so far been let down by absurdly poor goaltending.

TSN’s panel called the second period Ottawa’s worst of the season, and it’s hard to disagree. They were outshot 17-8 in the frame, were down 7-0 in shots early, and gave up a quick goal off a defensive zone draw to Ryan Hartman.

Ottawa briefly settled things down around halfway through the period, but despite entering the zone more frequently than before, their efforts failed to amount to anything as any pass attempts were knocked down in what can only be described as a defensive masterclass for the Wild. Derick Brassard put Ottawa behind the 8-ball once again by putting the puck over the glass, opening the door for yet another Wild stampede, but Ottawa was able to respond with a power-play of their own which generated another Fleury of chances, which were all handled by flurry.

It definitely wasn’t a good 40 minutes for Ottawa, but it was nice to see them playing with the puck near the end of the period. Of course, it would take a massive third period to steal this game and sweep the five-game homestand.

To that effect, Ottawa certainly did not back down. Although they weren’t able to even up the shots, the quality of their attempts made up for it. They drew two consecutive penalties in short order to create a 1:40 two-man advantage and, despite a slow start, a missed pass attempt drew Jonas Brodin behind the net, which led to a sequence of passes ending with Thomas Chabot firing the puck into an empty cage to cut the lead in half.

After two more penalties, coincidental minors on Brady Tkachuk and Ryan Hartman had both teams getting very good chances on the ensuing 4-on-4. Forsberg made two fantastic saves in tight after a turnover by Mathieu Joseph, and Drake Batherson rang a shot off the post from right in front of Fleury.

With 2:36 left in the game, Brady drew another penalty, this time a high-stick on Matthew Dumba. However, in what can only be described as poor timing, Anton Forsberg skated to the bench for the extra attacker just as Thomas Chabot gave up the puck at the blue line. Frederick Gaudreau capped off an impressive hockey game for Minnesota, and Ottawa fell by a score of 4-2.

The outcome is obviously not what we’d hoped for, but it was nonetheless encouraging to see the team fight to get back in the game after the relentless beating they took in the second period. By the end, the Sens finished with a 52.47% 5-on-5 expected goals share, according to NaturalStatTrick. Of course it would better to not have been in the kind of hole that requires such a comeback, but that the comeback felt possible at all is a good sign.

Game Notes:

  • Tonight was quite the game, but Alex DeBrincat versus Marc-Andre Fleury was a battle in and of itself. DeBrincat got the first strike in with the opening goal, but was robbed by Fleury numerous times as the game went on.
  • It’s an encouraging sign to see the consistently solid play of Anton Forsberg, who stopped 37 shots tonight. This season, the Sens don’t have to rely on him to steal a game every night, but on outings like this one in which 40 shots were surrendered, it seems that you can more often than not count on him to give them a chance.
  • I’ve come to respect Travis Hamonic’s game over the time I’ve seen him in a Senators jersey. In the back of my mind rests the knowledge of his poor career shot metrics, but they’ve been a lot better this season. And as far as mistakes on the ice go, I’m seeing similar errors from all of Ottawa’s defenders at a similar rate. Except for his partner, Jake Sanderson. We don’t talk enough about how good the kid is at holding the blue line. This has been a legitimate second pair so far — which is great news for the Sens’ season outlook.
  • It seems that even though D.J. Smith swapped Nick Holden out for Nikita Zaitsev tonight, he himself isn’t confident in the latter. Zaitsev only played 12:19 and was hemmed in his own end for long stretches of that time. Going forward, in games in which Holden could use a rest, why not give a chance to Jacob Bernard-Docker or Lassi Thomson? Zaitsev’s reached the impressive milestone of 400 NHL games, so that could be a bookend to his time with Ottawa perhaps?/


Up Next:

  • Looking for their first road win of the season, the Sens will face the Florida Panthers on another Saturday afternoon game. It’s a 4:00 PM EST start on the 29th./

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