Sens Paste Stars 4-1

Sens turn in one of their best performances of the season in an impressive 4-1 win over the Stars

Sens Paste Stars 4-1
Photo by Reign Abarintos / Unsplash

Exactly one week ago, the Ottawa Senators turned in a stinker of a performance against the Anaheim Ducks. Nothing worked for the skaters, Joonas Korpisalo seemingly couldn't stop a shot, and Ottawa embarrassed themselves against one of the league's worst teams. Tonight, against the high-flying Dallas Stars, the Sens delivered from top to bottom. To say this was a satisfying win would be an understatement: if nothing worked against Anaheim, everything, and everyone, was working against the Stars.

The Sens were mostly the better team in the early going in the first period, and were rewarded with the opening goal off the stick of Josh Norris. Norris' lack of production has been well-documented here and elsewhere; there was a visible look of relief on his face as he celebrated the deflection slipping past Jake Oettinger:

For the rest of the frame, Ottawa was mostly better but weren't exactly generating a tonne of chances. Dallas for their part pressed on occasion, including a few great looks on their lone power play, but the Sens looked poised to escape the first period with a lead until a botched clearance at the blue line by Thomas Chabot led to a late tying goal for the Stars. It felt mildly unfair that the Sens were only tied heading into intermission after all their good work, but the good news is that from that point on Ottawa put the pedal to the metal.

Ridly Greig nearly got the second period off to a sensational start with an individual effort that ended with a shot off the crossbar. In a game filled with skilled plays by the Sens, that sequence will likely be forgotten because it didn't result in a goal, but we were inches from one of the goals of the year.

Not long after, Norris, who was feeling it and brimming with confidence, converted on a semi-breakaway created by an absolute dime of a pass from Drake Batherson:

Then Chabot wired a laser beam from the slot to stretch the lead to 3-1.

On top of the goals, the Sens were dominating play through the neutral zone and getting themselves in front of pucks when defending. A lot of blocked shots isn't always indicative of strong defensive performance, sometimes it just means you didn't have the puck a lot, but Ottawa was able to recover a lot of their blocked shots and turn the ensuing possession into clean exits. It was, frankly, exhilarating to see.

Late in the frame, Claude Giroux drew a penalty off a puck battle in the corner, the kind of all-hustle-all-the-time play that he brings every time he steps on the ice. With a chance to really put the game to bed, the Sens' power play... did just that? Shane Pinto sniped to send Ottawa into the third up 4-1:

It would have been hard for the Sens to do better in the third than the second, and they didn't end up scoring any additional goals, but the defensive play was on point. On the TSN broadcast, Jamie McLennan made the point that stellar puck support was enabling Ottawa's skaters to execute quick reads and move the puck with confidence. I couldn't agree more: the Sens virtually always had numbers back in transition, when they won the puck they moved it crisply, and when the chance presented itself they attacked decisively. They crushed the life out of Dallas in the third, and at no point did it ever seem like the Stars were getting back into it. 4-1 the final.

Game Notes:

-Tim Stützle may have collected just the one assist, but he was absolutely electric all night long. He had the puck on a string, he was moving decisively, and just generally attacking with purpose. He was the best player on the ice for either team to my viewing – and that's saying something consider Norris potted two goals!

-Speaking of Norris, he was also excellent. He skated well, finished opportunistically, and was just generally looked like a valuable contributor.

-The Jake Sanderson-Artem Zub pairing were their typical excellent selves, but it's still worth underlining how strongly they defended through the neutral zone. The second Norris goal was a direct result of Zub's play at the Ottawa blue line, but there were several other occasions where one of 85 or 2 broke up a rush and started the puck back the other way. It was a great game for the duo.

-The Stars, otherwise an offensive juggernaut, looked totally toothless for long stretches, generating a meagre 15 shots on net. The Expected Goals across all situations favoured Ottawa 3.11 to 1.57 and that might even be flattering Dallas a bit.

Game Flow and Heat Map:

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