Senators win special teams battle over the Penguins, 5-4 in overtime

The Sens went 4/9 on the powerplay, but the Pens were 2/5

Oh. Boy. The Senators played a very good game against a good team, but nearly lost it due to some shaky goaltending and an inability to beat the Penguins’ Casey DeSmith at 5-on-5. They handily outshot the Pens, 40-20, but could only score on the powerplay. Thankfully, the Sens’ powerplay went 4-for-9, meaning they made it to overtime, where Brady Tkachuk completed his four-point (1 G, 3 A) night with the overtime winner just 24 seconds in.

The game got underway in a hurry with several odd-man rushes. Jason Zucker was at the centre of it, first by taking the game’s first penalty — which was a penalty but was also heavily sold by Claude Giroux — and then by scoring the game’s first goal. Cam Talbot completely whiffed on a point shot from Elias Marcus Pettersson, and it probably would’ve gone in anyway, but Zucker tucked it in behind. The Sens were quick to get back into it though, with Casey DeSmith makin an ill-advised pass from behind his net to set up a scoring chance. He got back into position in time to stop Shane Pinto’s tip, but Derick Brassard had a wide-open net on the rebound and Jeff Carter was forced into a high-sticking penalty. The problem was he drew blood, so the Sens got a four-minute powerplay and scored on both. The first was a beauty snipe by Alex DeBrincat in which he controlled the puck and picked the near corner in one smooth motion. The second was Tim Stützle allowed to walk down between the circles and pick his spot.

From there, the Evgeni Malkin reminded us all what makes him so good and so frustrating. He drew a boarding call on Josh Norris, and then a tripping call on Dylan Gambrell. The Sens managed to kill the 5-on-3, but Malkin tucked in a backhand at the tail-end of the second penalty. It was another one that hit Talbot’s glove and didn’t stay in, giving a tuck-in chance from the crease. It was a pretty frantic end to the period, with another powerplay for Ottawa, but the score remained 2-2 despite Ottawa leading 18-11 on the shot clock.

The second period started with lots of Sens pressure, so of course it was the Penguins who scored first, and of course it was another unscreened wrister that went right through Talbot’s glove, this time from Mark Friedman — his first of the year, no less. The Sens took right over from there, first with a Norris tip hitting heavily off the post, then with an extended stretch of offensive-zone pressure which drew a penalty. The Sens managed to get over a minute of possession with Talbot pulled before the Penguins could even touch up. Then on the powerplay, Brady Tkachuk showed off his silky mitts, making a quick behind-the-back pass off a rebound to give Drake Batherson an easy goal. It was a tie game thanks 100% to the Sens’ top powerplay unit.

Then, late in the period Bryan Rust took a hooking penalty and was really unhappy, which earned him a second penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. They didn’t score in the final 40 seconds, and so entered the third already 3/6 on the powerplay, and with 3:19 left on the powerplay. They outshot the Penguins 11-3 in the second, but still found themselves tied thanks to the heroics of DeSmith in the Pens’ net.

The third started with the Sens unable to get much of anything on net during the extended powerplay, and for many fans it felt like we’d seen this movie before. The Sens deserve to win, but fail to get the big goal and then let it slip away in the third. Things looked more tense as Jacob Bernard-Docker took a high-sticking penalty (that was called roughing for unknown reasons), but Gambrell used his speed and a spin-o-rama to draw a Mathieu P.O. Joseph penalty. And wouldn’t you know it, late in that powerplay, Shane Pinto scored an off-the-rush wrister, and Ottawa was up 4-3.

For a second, I felt good, which of course was a mistake. A sloppy change led to a too-many-men penalty. That led to a goal from Rickard Rakell in the slot that looked like it just went through Talbot. I watched about a dozen replays of it and I can’t figure out how it went in. There were a few more chances in the period, the best of which was Jake Guentzel hitting the post on a cross-crease pass that had Talbot down and sprawling, but regulation couldn’t solve it. The Sens were outshooting them 39-19 and were 4/9 on the powerplay, and yet were in an OT situation.

Overtime took only 24 seconds. Essentially, the Penguins got a brief chance off the opening faceoff, then the Sens turned it the other way. Thomas Chabot gave Stützle an outlet pass, Stü dropped it for Tkachuk, and the captain put it in off the stick of Pettersson. Final score: 5-4 in OT.

Game Thoughts:

  • Talbot had an off-night, but thankfully the Sens overcame it. Look for Anton Forsberg to start on Friday
  • I was watching the Pittsburgh broadcast, and they loved Stützle. From his deking, to his sweet goal, to watching him kill penalties, they were shocked how good he was.
  • Tkachuk finished with three primary assists plus the game-winning goal. Our captain was always a good player and a great leader, but now he looks like an elite player.
  • Josh Norris was engaged for a guy in his first game back. I thought he was unlucky to not get a point. His one-timer was rusty though, but I’m sure it will get better with another game or two.
  • During the 4-on-4, we got to see a bit of a Sanderson-Brännström pairing, which I think Smith should try more often. Also, if it happens, we’re totally calling this the SandStrom pairing, right?/

Game Flow:

Shot Chart:

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