Senators Stifle Rangers

Best defence of the year comes out in a great game by the top-six

With as tough of a year as this has been for the Ottawa Senators, one of the major knocks on their game was that they had yet to play a complete game.

Even the other night in Philadelphia, when they ended a four game losing skid, it was only a stellar third period that pushed the Sens to victory.

Tonight, they got the 60-minute effort they had been looking for.

The top two lines led the way, and Craig Anderson notched his first shutout of the season, as the Ottawa Senators handled the New York Rangers all night, winning 3-0 and avenging their 4-2 loss on Monday night. Surrendering their least amount of shots all season in the process.

The Senators got off to a quick start, as the 18-95-79 and 7-36-61 lines came roaring out of the gate, playing with lightning speed and moving the puck efficiently. They were relentless on the forecheck, and their cycle seemed effortless.

It was fitting then, that just over two minutes into the first, Matt Duchene took a puck rimmed around the boards by Max Lajoie. He found Drake Batherson in front of the net for a sweet little deflection that beat Henrik Lundqvist, opening the scoring in favour of Ottawa. Duchene now has points in four consecutive games, and it was one of many sensational passes he made in this game.

Following the early goal, the game had a great pace to it. The teams went over eight minutes without a stoppage of play, and Batherson almost had another beautiful deflection on another beautiful feed from beautiful Matt Duchene, but it sailed just over the crossbar.

Henrik Lundqvist was looking to be on his usual form early, when Bobby Ryan made a nice move to stickhandle into the slot, but King Henrik turned him away with a big save.

Craig Anderson had to be sharp too. Lias Andersson skated right around Ben Harpur and cut in front of the goal, but Andy shut the door and kept the lead in the Senators’ hands.

Not long after, Tom Pyatt made a great play to hold the puck inside the Ranger blue line. He directed it to Zack Smith, who had a wide open lane to the slot, but instead passed off to Magnus Pajaarvi, whose high blocker shot made it 2-0 Ottawa. For Paajarvi and Pyatt, it’s their second point each in November, while Smith has four points in his last five games.

The rest of the period kept up the good pace, but was fairly uneventful. Ryan hit the post on another slick feed from Duchene, and both teams headed to the locker room with Ottawa up 2-0.

The second period began with more of the same. Quick pace, not many whistles, and Ottawa looking great in the attacking zone. They were poised, their passes were crisp, and the Rangers looked overwhelmed in their end of the ice for much of the frame.

They got their chance, though, when Jesper Fast walked out from the side of the net and jammed the puck between Craig Anderson’s pads. There was a pile-up in the crease, Fast looked to push Anderson’s leg with his arm, the puck squeaked over the line and the red light went on. With no signal from the officials, they headed upstairs, where the War Room determined that referee Steve Kozari was in the process of blowing the whistle when he lost sight of the puck in Andy’s legs.

No goal. Still 2-0 Ottawa.

Following the good bounce, Ottawa reapplied the pressure in the Rangers’ end. Colin White took a great feed from Mark Stone in the slot, and rifled a beautiful shot off the post. On the next stoppage of play, White could be seen talking to himself, visibly frustrated.

The feelings of despair weren’t meant to last though, as Ryan Dzingel took the puck behind Lundqvist’s net, and fed it out front to Batherson. The rookie made a gorgeous one-touch pass to a wide-open Matt Duchene, who potted the gift of a goal past a sprawling King Henrik to make it 3-0 Ottawa.

Seriously, I can’t stress enough how nice of a goal this was. See for yourself.

The Senators didn’t let up from there, and Lundqvist had to make some big saves on Brady Tkachuk and Mark Stone at the end of the period to keep the game as close as it was.

The second came to a close with Ottawa up 3-0, leading the shots on goal totals 23-19, and the game seeming well in hand.

The third period was more of the same. Ottawa appeared to be in cruise control, as they were in the first two periods, keeping the Rangers to the perimeter and limiting chances against Craig Anderson.

For my money, this was some of the best defence Ottawa’s played since the 2017 playoff run.

The frame wasn’t without its chances, though. At one point, the Rangers stormed in on a 2-on-1. Former Senator Freddy Claesson was all alone in the slot, a goal seemed imminent, but the whistle was blown. Rangers defenceman Anthony Deangelo had been a little rough with Colin White behind the play, earning a two-minute minor, and nullifying the Blueshirts’ best opportunity of the night,

Ottawa had another glorious chance as well, when Dzingel made a great pass to Lajoie, who fired a one-timer off of Lundqvist. Dzingel scooped up the rebound, but he too was denied, and the game remained 3-0 Ottawa.

The rest of the period was fairly pedestrian, with Ottawa finishing the game up 34-27 in shots on goal. Craig Anderson finally earned a well-deserved shutout, but it was Ottawa’s defensive play, and total control throughout that won them the contest.

Notable Performances:

  • Batherson and Duchene had two points apiece, and paced Ottawa offensively. They’re looking more and more comfortable together, and they clearly have some chemistry. This is going to be great for 79’s development.
  • The unsung hero of this game was Colin White. He had some great chances that he just couldn’t find the back of the net on, and his puck movement looked like that of a seasoned pro. I love that second line more and more every game.
  • This was, I think, Christian Jaros’ best all-around game as a pro. He was disciplined in his own end of the ice, and played a good physical game without getting out of position. Look for more outings like this in order to cement his place on the roster.
  • Thomas Chabot was quiet on the scoresheet, but had another solid game. I hate to compare him to Erik Karlsson, but his smooth skating and seamless stickhandling can’t help but allude to some similarities. In just his second season, he is the Senators’ defensive anchor./

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