Brady Tkachuk had two goals and an assist, Tarasenko notched a goal and an assist, and Joonas Korpisalo made 22 saves on 24 shots (and put up an assist) as the Ottawa Senators beat a listless Tampa Bay Lightning team 5-2. Both teams may have played yesterday, but it was the Sens that started with that next-day jump, racing out to a 11-1 lead in shots, and scoring the game's first goal. It was a beauty back-pass from Ridly Greig to give Vladamir Tarasenko his first as a Senator:
Despite leading 17-3 in shots to end the first, the Sens managed just the one goal (and Tampa got the lone powerplay). The second started with a misplay at the offensive blueline, and a botched defensive coverage, that gave Anthony Cirelli all day in alone on Korpisalo, and he made no mistake to tie up the game on the Lightning's 5th shot of the game. Ottawa continued to mount the pressure (despite taking the next penalty), and eventually Brady Tkachuk put the Sens back in front after Tim Stützle won a tenacious puck battle to allow Claude Giroux to set up the Tkaptain:
That lead was also short-lived, with Tanner Jeannot getting the puck on the doorstep and burying it. Another misplay by the Chabot-Chychrun pairing allowed both Eysimmont and Jeannot to be alone in front of the net when the puck showed up. I love these two guys, but they can't both be so aggressive while they're still figuring out their communication. Mercifully, Ottawa's pressure did turn into another goal before the end of the period, with Mathieu Joseph scoring a beauty to get his second goal of the year in just his third game:
Through the first 13 minutes of the third period, the most noteworthy things were Joseph hitting the crossbar, Jon Cooper losing his mind over an icing call, and Giroux getting real hot after an obvious interference call by Austin Watson. But then Tkachuk did Tkachuk things, turning a perfect stretch pass from Jake Sanderson into a beautiful power forward-type goal:
There was a scary moment when Tkachuk gave up his shot at the hat-trick goal on an empty net to not be selfish, but the pass to Giroux failed and Tampa took it back. Ultimately it didn't matter, because not long after, Tkachuk gave Stützle a breakaway on the empty net where he scored easily. Big win, making the Lightning look as bad as yesterday's Flyers.
My random thoughts, in no particular order:
- Good on 29-year-old Matt Tomkins for securing his NHL debut after making pro appearances in the AHL, ECHL, and SHL (as well as stops for Canada at the World Championships and the Olympics), but all I could think was that he should start a club with Lassi Thomson for guys who will always get an incorrect P added to their names
- Brady Tkachuk is good. It seemed mid-way through the second period against Philly that he visibly decided he was going to show up to carry this team, and he's been phenomenal since.
- Tim Stützle: puck wizard. The amazing thing is we know he can get better than we've seen so far, which is already really, really good.
- I didn't like Parker Kelly or Rourke Chartier making the team out of camp over Roby Järventie or Jiří Smejkal, but they've both looked pretty good to start the year – especially on the penalty kill. To my mind, it's been Mark Kastelic who's been the biggest disappointment. He's been invisible outside of fighting or getting danced by Sergachev. (MacEwen has been every bit as not good as I expected.)
- A couple of times, Korpisalo tried to clear the puck when I think he would've been better off just passing it to a teammate. Something to keep an eye on.
- These aren't your 2020-2022 Lightning. Sure, they were missing Vasilevskiy and Stamkos, but they also regularly seemed to ice the puck as a defensive strategy. I can't imagine Jon Cooper's team doing that two years ago. Kucherov and Hedman look like they feel alone out there. Could they be caught in the standings...?
- Thomas Chabot was LOUD tonight. In particular, him yelling "AAHHH!" after a bad pass, and him yelling Korpisalo off a puck that was outside the trapezoid were very noticeable. I'm not used to him being that vocal, but I like it if he's fired up.
I also solicited thoughts from the fans/readers, and here's what I got:
Finally, the shot chart:
and the heat map: