We are at a point in the season where the players are playing for pride. The Senators came into the night technically alive in the playoff race, but with six games to go everybody knows it is not going to happen. But the games still have to be played, and I think as fans it is in our contract that we have to watch every game until the season is over.
Despite having nothing to play for, the Senators came out blazing. The Jets themselves have even less to play for, so perhaps a quick start was predictable. Ottawa would open the scoring just 3:16 to the game, thanks to newly-minted superstar Zack Smith. Mark Stone had the puck at the hash-marks in the offensive zone, and with his silky smooth hands he was able to find an open Smith streaking towards the net. It was something that we've seen a lot of in the past few months:
smith goal. pic.twitter.com/jeD7qmzst0— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 30, 2016
The rest of the period really was controlled by Ottawa, as even though the shots were 6-6, the Senators spent long spurts at a time in the offensive zone. Plus, 10 of their shots were blocked, with the shot attempts being 19-9 at even strength. Penalties to Bobby Ryan and Mark Dano ultimately would not lead to anything. After one, it was not surprising to see Ottawa leading 1-0.
In the second, the Jets began to get a bit more momentum. There weren't too many great chances for either team, but a play from Dustin Byfuglien turned the game into a much more interesting one. Stone picked up the puck from the middle of the ice, but still had his head slightly down as he was approaching the blue line. Byfuglien came up like a freight train and delivered one of the hardest hits you will ever see:
We're just going to leave this right here. pic.twitter.com/CZzUkQlI06— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 31, 2016
It looks like he may have hit him in the head slightly, but he mainly caught Stone with his head down and it seemed like only his teammates had an issue with it. Stone initially left, and then returned minutes later. Then in the third period, he left for good with a chest injury which is hopefully just a precautionary move. The funny thing is Zack Smith got an extra penalty afterwards, meaning Ottawa was somehow down a man after this. As the penalty kill was nearing its end, Mika Zibanejad was inches away from doubling the lead, but the puck was rolling and it hit the post.
After that, the Senators were essentially shut out of any scoring chances the rest of the period. The Jets returned the favour in terms of dominating possession, as they had 15 even strength attempts to Ottawa's 6. They finished off the period similarly to how Ottawa play in the first, as they controlled the play but couldn't get many shots through. After two periods it was still 1-0 for the Senators.
After pressing for quite a while, the Jets finally tied it up with 13:05 left in the game. Blake Wheeler raced down the ice, then did a ballerina-esque spin-o-rama before hitting an open Mark Scheifele, who had time and space ahead of a back-checking Zibanejad. The game would not even be tied for two whole minutes before the Senators took the lead once again.
Ben Chiarot headed behind his own net in a seemingly harmless play, but as he skated around, it deflected off the net and a hard forechecking Ryan Dzingel picked up the loose puck behind the net. Chiasson was in the perfect spot in the slot, and all he had to do was shoot high to beat Michael Hutchinson, giving him his 8th goal of the season.
Winnipeg would not let up after giving up the lead again, and things began to get more frantic in the defensive zone. Teams traded a couple chances, and then the Jets pulled the goalie with a little over a minute to go. With 30 seconds left, Drew Stafford had a wide open net but Scheifele blocked what was going to be a sure goal. The Senators caught a break, and the game ended with a 2-1 score. The Senators are now 6-0-0 in Winnipeg, and they are the only team who is undefeated at the MTS Centre.
However, with the Flyers picking up a win, Ottawa is now officially out of the playoffs (finally).
Sens Hero: Zack Smith/Mark Stone
I can't give credit to just Smith here for his goal, as Stone's pass to set him up was brilliant. As much as we talk about how this isn't going to last, Smith just keeps on scoring. He added his 22nd of the year, and Stone recorded his 61st point.
Honourable Mention: Andrew Hammond
Hammond bounced back from a sub-par performance against the New York Islanders and he preserved the lead for the Senators throughout the night. Even on the lone goal he had absolutely no chance, so he definitely had a solid night.
Honourable Mention: Ryan Dzingel
Alex Chiasson's goal should be credited to Dzingel, because he's the one who pressured Chiarot and he's the one who made the pass out front. Depositing it in the net was the easy job.
Sens Killer: Dustin Byfuglien
He didn't dominate or anything, but he could have killed Stone. That was one of the harder hits you will see this season, and it is a bit worrying that Stone had to leave the game. Let's just hope that he isn't out for a long time.
ESPN Shot Chart:
N/A (Issues with EPSN.com)