Well, that was fun.
The Sens’ winning streak reached another level tonight. The first three wins could have been chalked up to good puck luck, the Islanders loss proved that they’re still human, and the Lightning win was maybe a sign that this was the real Ottawa Senators, but you could still make the argument that it was an outlier.
But this game? Rolling into Florida to face a second-place Panthers team that’s put up a staggering 14-1-0 record at home? This was the real test.
And my goodness, did the Ottawa Senators pass it.
The sens’ing began right off the first faceoff, as Ottawa outshot Florida 8-0 in just the first five minutes of the game. Sure enough, the Senators turned that dominance into a goal, as Austin Watson tapped the puck into the net to take the lead. 1-0 Ottawa.
The Sens did not let up on the gas after that. Tyler Ennis failed to score on a breakaway, and the first line did first line things. These guys are second in the league? The Sens were walking all over them. Even a Panthers powerplay was easily killed off.
Naturally, it didn’t last.
Just as swiftly as the Sens had taken control of the game, they lost it. Oh, Sens. Florida had possession for a while, and when they finally got behind Forsberg, it felt long overdue. 1-1.
Former Senator Anthony Duclair came very close to scoring in his first game against his former team. When the Sens took another penalty, it started to look like the game might be slipping away from them.
Not so fast! Another fantastic penalty kill followed, with Formenton almost scoring shorthanded and Florida failing to record even a single shot. The Sens were so in session.
The momentum shifted right back in Ottawa’s favour toward the end of the frame, with more chances for the Sens to take back the lead. They went back to the penalty kill when Norris got called for a faceoff violation as seconds expired in the period, but at this point there was no doubt they’d be able to kill it off.
Sure enough, not only did Ottawa kill off the rest of the penalty, but they also got a long-overdue shorthanded goal! Dylan Gambrell scored his first with the Sens on a breakaway. 2-1 Ottawa.
Nick Paul and Austin Watson teamed up for a great scoring chance, but just barely missed, and soon afterward, Ottawa headed to their first powerplay of the game.
You’d expect that powerplay to mean good things for Ottawa, but I can’t really say it did. The whole thing was an absolutely wild two minutes of end-to-end hockey, more similar to 3-on-3 overtime than to a powerplay, as the Panthers got a whole bunch of odd-man rushes and the Sens answered with a few exciting chances. Neither team scored, somehow.
Play continued at that breakneck speed after the penalty expired. This game would have killed Guy Boucher.
With about eight minutes left, Ottawa took another penalty, and pulled off another excellent kill. What got into these guys? I have no idea.
As the teams returned to even strength, the game remained wide open, with both teams getting heart-stopping chances on every shift. It was a fun game!
Eventually, the Panthers did score another goal, to tie the game 2-2.
Once again, though, the Sens responded in a big way. Josh Norris did his thing on a breakaway, and a slightly comical sequence ensued as the ref somehow missed the puck going all the way into the net, rolling along the back post, and then leaving the net again. I guess Norris’s shot is just that good. That, or the refs have an anti-Sens bias. Play continued for a bit, until the replay showed that Norris had, in fact, scored. 3-2 Ottawa.
It didn’t take long for Tim Stützle to double the Sens’ lead, with a beautiful shot from the slot and his first real even strength goal of the season (it’s technically his second if you count the one where he fell into the goalie and they let it count, but I’m sure Timmy is happy to have this one). 4-2 Ottawa.
If you were expecting a Panthers comeback, think again. On their very first shift of the period, the Sens extended their lead even further. Norris was the hero yet again, with his second of the game off a beautiful pass from Batherson, as we’ve come to expect from that duo. 5-2 Ottawa.
The Sens took another silly penalty, and Formenton almost scored on the penalty kill, again. After that came a moment that just about summed up the game, as Panthers fans literally started boo’ing their own team on the powerplay. It doesn’t get any better than this, folks.
Actually, it does get better. Zub took another penalty, and the Panthers failed to score on a 5-on-3. The rest of the penalty kill was an absolute cakewalk for this Sens team. I’m pretty sure they got more scoring chances than Florida did. Don’t look that up.
Once we returned to even strength, Norris found Batherson in the slot and, well, what do you think happened? 6-2 Ottawa.
Drake and Josh were really leading the way tonight.
Brady Tkachuk, giving the people what they want 😤 pic.twitter.com/BVrrH1Prcx— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 15, 2021
(Hey, I got that reference! I love being exactly the same age as the core players on this team.)
It just got better and better from there. A Panthers player slashed Timmy, sending the Sens to a four minute powerplay, even as Sanford got into a fight in defense of his teammate. The double minor almost immediately turned into a 5 on 3 when Brady was pushed around in front of the net and definitely sold it a little bit. Things were getting chippy, as can be expected in a game like this.
Brady draws one here. 😅 pic.twitter.com/XWltdqxJeu— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 15, 2021
The whole 2 man advantage was kind of hilarious, because the Sens were already up 6-2 and it was very obvious that no one cared about anything except getting Norris the hat trick. Unfortunately, the Panthers knew what was up, and despite a few good shots on goal, Norris just couldn’t find the back of the net.
You know who did, though? Brady Tkachuk, who tapped in a Chabot one-timer to make the score 7-2 Ottawa.
The final goal of the game came from Nick Paul. 8-2 Ottawa.
Nick Paul makes it 8!!— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 15, 2021
Paul and Brown now have three points on the evening each. pic.twitter.com/wwlWCF1vux
Other than a Norris hat trick, you couldn’t ask for much more out of a game. It was thrilling from start to finish, and the core players were leading the way. Great session, everyone. I love this team.
Multiple players had at least three points for the @Senators tonight after Brady Tkachuk (3-0—3) and Batherson (0-3—3) each at three-point performances on Dec. 11.#NHLStats: https://t.co/GmoeSW57v5 pic.twitter.com/bPGQ5uxPRB— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 15, 2021
- Everyone. Yeah, let’s just say everyone was good. Great session. No notes. Let’s reconvene after the Lightning game to see what we can work on./