Under .500, over .500, under .500, over .500. This season has been a roller coaster, and tonight, the Ottawa Senators played the Detroit Red Wings looking to get back to .500.
The Senators started well, as David Perron took a tripping penalty just 27 seconds in. Claude Giroux would take advantage of that, as Jacob Chychrun's shot from the point couldn't be corralled by Alex Lyon, and Giroux was right there for the rebound:
Claude Giroux continues to do Claude Giroux things. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/MlaMpeUmpv— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 10, 2023
The latter half of the first period is where things got crazy. Firstly, Tim Stützle got one of the weakest roughing penalties I've seen in a while, as he shoved the shoulders of Shayne Gostisbehere but "Ghost Bear" made it look like he got hit in the head. Then a minute later on the penalty kill, all hell broke loose. Mathieu Joseph and Parker Kelly combined to make contact with Dylan Larkin's head, and he immediately went down in an incredibly scary situation. It didn't look like there was malice involved with either of them, although it was a bit reckless (more from Joseph), and the result looked awful.
I was immediately terrified that Larkin was not okay, as he was not moving at all. In response, David Perron looked for somebody to go after, thinking Artem Zub was the culprit. In what was a much dirtier play, Perron cross-checked Zub in the head and received a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. It took a long time to figure out all the penalties, and thankfully Larkin was able to get up, but had to leave the game:
Scary scene as Dylan Larkin lays motionless after a headshot from Joseph... he ends being helped off the ice. Hope he's okay.— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 10, 2023
David Perron then cross-checks Zub directly in the face. Should be ejected. pic.twitter.com/ym9MANIyNZ
David Perron is ejected for cross-checking Artem Zub in the face... while Zub was calling for help for his injured teammate. #GoSensGo— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) December 10, 2023
Should be a hefty suspension for Perron. https://t.co/2W926y8inB pic.twitter.com/2w0WtPG1c8
The Senators were still on the penalty kill after all of that, and Patrick Kane would make the Senators pay. He had a ton of time and space on the right side, and he whipped it past Joonas Korpisalo, giving him goal #1 as a Red Wing.
Despite the 2nd period usually being one to dread for the Senators, they flipped the script tonight. On a powerplay from Michael Rasmussen's high-sticking call, Chychrun flubbed a pass to Vladimir Tarasenko at the top of the zone. Thankfully, the puck still got to Vladdy, who was able to one-time it past Lyon:
Then exactly five minutes later, Joseph picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, fed it to Dominik Kubalik, and once again, the Senators scored on a hard one-timer:
Their wickedly strong 2nd period didn't end there though, as Drake Batherson and Tim Stützle combined for one of their best goals of the season with 1:04 left:
Oh my what a play from Batherson as he finds Stützle. 🤌 pic.twitter.com/NJT9INbhs6— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 10, 2023
It was easily their best 2nd period of the season, leading 4-1 after 40.
I expected the third period to be all Detroit, and although they controlled the play, it wasn't exactly that impressive. Christian Fischer made sure to fight Mathieu Joseph as payback just 1:14 into the period, but that didn't wake up the Red Wings. Instead, the Senators coasted to a 5-1 win (with a Jake Sanderson empty-netter), getting them back to .500 at 11-11-0.
- This was one of Ottawa's best and most complete efforts of the season. Everyone played well at both ends of the ice and were never really dominated at any point. That's four games in a row where they've played a solid game.
- Joonas Korpisalo was a big reason for tonight's win, as he stopped 30 of 31 shots. They need more of that from him and Anton Forsberg.
- This was Jiri Smejkal's first NHL game, and he played a team-low 4:40 with a 41.19 xGF%. He didn't stand out too much, although he did have a blocked shot that led to a partial breakaway for Joe Veleno, so he didn't exactly have a banner night. Still though, I prefer him over other depth options right now.
- I hope Zub isn't feeling any effects from that Perron cross-check, especially with his recent concussion. Perron needs to be suspended for that as it was pre-meditated and not even against the right person.
- Ridly Greig's return has been huge, as he can make things happen offensively, get under the skin of his opponents, and he also stretches out the lineup so much better.
- I feel like if the Red Wings and Senators are both playoff teams, this will be one of their fiercest rivalries. Every time they get together, something interesting happens.