Sens Fall 4-3 to Kings in Spirited OT Affair

The Sens turned in a strong effort considering the circumstances, but it just wasn't quite enough against a strong LA Kings squad.

Sens Fall 4-3 to Kings in Spirited OT Affair
Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya / Unsplash

By all rights, the Ottawa Senators were primed for a stinker of a performance tonight. Firmly entrenched in yet another disappointing season, coming off a dispiriting loss to the Anaheim Ducks just 24 hours earlier, missing several key players: it was a recipe for disaster. But while the Sens eventually fell 4-3 in overtime to the Los Angeles Kings, you cannot fault the effort.

The early tone of the game, one that persisted throughout the evening, was physicality: Brady Tkachuk seemed to be on a mission to hit everything that moved, and the Kings are not exactly shrinking violets themselves. Andreas Englund in particular (remember that guy?) appeared eager to make his presence known.

The best early chance for either team came for Tim Stützle, but he was promptly denied by Cam Talbot:

Is it petty to ask where that version of Talbot was for the Sens last year? Maybe? I'm doing it anyways!

Shortly thereafter Englund, again with that guy, took an ill-advised interference penalty which the Sens, believe it or not, capitalized on:

For a meaningless, late night, regular season game, it must be said that this match-up had a fair amount of excitement. After their goal, the Sens got more quality chances care of Stützle on a 2-on-1 with Giroux, Artem Zub sneaking in from the point, and then Batherson on a late power play. Did I mention before that I have questions about where this version of Talbot was last year?

Meanwhile, Joonas Korpisalo turned in a perfect performance in the opening frame, stopping all ten shots that came his way. The Kings probably had more of the play overall, but the Sens generated a fair number of good chances. All-in, a solid opening period considering all of the aforementioned circumstances.

In the second, the theme of Talbot robbing Stützle continued unabated:

Less than a minute later, Sens fans were treated to some extreme whiplash when Quinton Byfield got loose on a breakaway and fought off Maxence Guenette to knot it up. Guenette was overmatched, but Byfield's breakaway was only possible because Jakob Chychrun totally whiffed on a puck in the neutral zone. Not a shining moment for 6 or 50 on that sequence.

The Sens, though, demonstrated some of that resiliency I was talking about when Tkachuk scored a very Brady goal to give them the lead yet again:

I sometimes forget that this is already Brady's 6th (!) season with the team and he's climbing the list of all-time Sens goal-scorers. That tally tied him with Radek Bonk for 7th all-time:

It must be said that at this point Korpisalo was having a great game. The Sens, though leading, were definitely dragging on occasion and the Kings' zone time advantage was only growing. Korpisalo hadn't been forced into too many five star saves, but he was being tested constantly.

In the third period, it really did start to look like the Sens were kind of holding on for dear life. Whereas in the first two periods they'd mostly stood toe-to-toe with the Kings, Ottawa were now largely fend off waves of attack. While they did keep L.A at bay until just past the halfway point, the dam did eventually break with the Kings potting two goals in quick succession:

At that moment, I thought surely it was over for the Sens. When you give up two quick ones like that, even a one-goal deficit can feel insurmountable. But Ottawa battled on and Drake Batherson provided a pleasant surprise for those of us who stayed up late with a tally to tie things up:

The match-up proceeded to OT without too much additional fanfare where, after Shane Pinto had a chance to win it, this happened:

Folks after the game were giving Stützle a lot of flack for failing to get that puck out, and there's definitely some truth there: he has two chances in about thirty seconds to make sure the Sens exit, or at least just dump it out, and he fails to pull it off. I do also have to give a lot of credit to the Kings, and in particular the indomitable Kevin Fiala, for winning those battles at all. Stützle is not making lazy, or soft or whatever you want to call it, plays by any stretch. The Kings are just faster and stronger. Maybe I'm reaching too far at nearly 2 a.m on a Thursday night, but the sequence struck me as a good metaphor for where the Sens are at this season: in overtime, right there with it, clearly have a lot of what's required, but still overpowered by the good teams. It also helps the imagery to have Claude Giroux absolutely detonate his stick on the cross-bar in the immediate aftermath.

Anyways, there were plenty of good things to take from this game as well – which is honestly about all I can ask for given the circumstances.

Game Notes:

-Did Stützle have a good game? He was involved in a lot of great chances, he skated his ass off, and was generally a big contributor to the team's puck movement. He also didn't convert on three grade A chances, and got out-muscled for the OT winner. I'm a big process guy, so I'll stick with this was a good game for the team's offensive talisman, but boy would it have been nice if he'd buried at least one of those opportunities so the OT could have been avoided in the first place.

-The Chychrun-Guenette pairing did not have a good time tonight. Besides being on for two of the three 5v5 goals against, the Sens were out-shot 14-2 with Guenette on the ice – almost exclusively with Chychurn. I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bath water yet, but that's not the kind of performance that'll keep Guenette in the show.

-I liked the Sens' second power play unit of Giroux-Batherson-Pinto-Ridley Greig-Erik Brännström quite a bit. While they didn't see a tonne of time together, I thought the puck movement was crisp and they looked threatening throughout their time.

Heat Map:

Game Flow:

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