Eight days ago, it was the New Jersey Devils who came back from two goals down to take the game to the shootout. Tonight, under very different circumstances, the Ottawa Senators did the same. Unfortunately for the Sens, their effort to swipe two points were doused in the shootout thanks to slick moves from Drew Stafford and Jesper Bratt, but a point on a back-to-back with a depleted lineup will surely do.
Like yesterday night against the Flyers, the Senators had a strong first period where they scored the game’s first two goals. Coming off getting his first NHL point, Chris DiDomenico had his best NHL performance tonight. Scooping up a Jean-Gabriel Pageau zone exit that got past three Devils, DiDo flew up the right side of the ice and fought off the backcheck of Adam Henrique. Caught puck watching, Damon Severson loses Hoffman, who waits up high instead of crashing the net. DiDo’s pass finds Hoffman, who puts it through Severson’s legs and into the open net for a 1-0 lead eight minutes in.
10 minutes later, Johnny Oduya gets his first point as an Ottawa Senator after taking a sweet feed from Erik Karlsson (his ninth point) and firing a perfectly placed slap shot up over goaltender Keith Kinkaid’s glove for a 2-0 lead. Zack Smith, who returned from injury tonight, got the secondary assist by taking advantage of Severson’s broken stick in order to carry the puck into the offensive zone.
Unlike yesterday night, the Sens were unable to carry a two goal lead into the first intermission, as Jimmy Hayes gets the Devils on the board. Mark Borowiecki looks silly on the play as he charged at Pavel Zacha in the neutral zone for the big hit, but is unable to make contact. Zacha then sends a nice cross-ice feed to Hayes, who snipes it by Condon. Looking back at the replay (below), Borowiecki had Dzingel and Ceci back so likely felt like he could go for the aggressive play, but Ceci was too lax in his coverage of Hayes.
The second period is a pretty even affair, with the teams trading shot attempts, shots, and scoring chances at about a ~50% rate. Hall and Hischier buzz for the Devils, with Condon looking sharp on some Hischier net drives in tight. Meanwhile, Mike Hoffman gets another scoring chance off a DiDo pass but is stopped by Keith Kinkaid. Some kerfuffles break out after McCormick and Borowiecki mess with some Devils players. Borowiecki goes to the penalty box for kneeing, and on the powerplay, Adam Henrique taps home the rebound after a hard Will Butcher point shot (his 10th point!) to tie the game at two. Bratt and Butcher, two players who were a bit quieter last week, really showed their skill tonight.
The Sens get a chance to tie the game up right after thanks to Erik Karlsson drawing a penalty on Hischier as the rookie made the ill-advised mistake to chase Karlsson behind the Devils net, but Ottawa fails to generate anything towards net. Rejuvenated, the Devils take advantage of the Borowiecki - Ceci pair yet again as this time, Ceci flubs a pass in transition up the boards. Pavel Zacha gets his second point of the night by bringing the puck into the zone and shielding off Nate Thompson before finding Brian Gibbons for a quick shot in the slot. Mike Condon, who was admittedly shaky on the night, was screened by a recovering Ceci on the play.
The third period starts with some special teams play, but neither team is able to penetrate the middle of the ice on the powerplay. The Devils actually come close to scoring shorthanded, with Blake Coleman (who was pesky all night) driving the net hard around Karlsson for one chance, and then nearly taking advantage of a Karlsson shattered stick on another.
Keith Kinkaid, who got his second win against Ottawa in the last week, was sharp early in the period — stopping Hoffman (2x) and Karlsson on clear scoring chances. The Devils respond through Taylor Hall, who was shut down by Karlsson most of the night but got himself out there on a shift without the Sens captain and took advantage. Hall shielded the puck away from Claesson a number of times and eventually got the puck to Damon Severson who was wide open on the left point. Severson hammers the puck with vengeance past Mike Condon, who misread the play and ended up too far to the right, giving the Devils a 4-2 lead with 6 minutes to play.
From here on out, the Senators generated 12 straight shot attempts and ended up getting rewarded for putting on pressure despite looking gassed most of the third. With the goalie pulled, Dion Phaneuf has a wonderful shift at the point where he keeps the puck in numerous times. On one such occasion, Taylor Hall spins to try to get the puck out but it’s knocked down by Phaneuf. Dion gets the puck to Mike Hoffman, who’s hard slap shot is tapped in by Mark Stone with 1:15 remaining.
The Sens call a timeout to a) give Stone and Hoffman a breather, and b) draw up a play. They win the draw and get Condon out, which lets Derick Brassard, Chris DiDomenico, and Mark Stone go to work in the left corner. After winning a board battle, Stone gets the puck to Brassard, who goes behind the net and flips it to DiDomenico — waiting near the left post. He shovels the puck past Kinkaid for his first NHL goal and second point of the night with 36 seconds left, willing the Senators to grab a point.
In overtime, the Sens control much of the play but no team really generates any dangerous scoring opportunity. Guy Boucher actually had DiDomenico start overtime; DiDo ended up playing 17:16 on the night and went first in the shootout, but was stopped by Kinkaid. Although Tom Pyatt scored for the Senators, a miss from Karlsson and goals from Stafford and Bratt — the latter two absolutely freezing Condon — win the game for the Devils.