Sens sweep Sweden trip; defeat Avs 4-3

Matt Duchene with 8 shots on net as the Sens head back to Ottawa with four points.

Like yesterday afternoon, the final score did a disservice to the play of the Ottawa Senators. The shot count? 40-18 — with Matt Duchene leading all players with eight.

The first period was the slowest and most even of the three. Samuel Girard, acquired in the Duchene trade via Nashville, was noticeable, especially on the Avs two powerplays of the period. Girard dominated the QMJHL in the year after he was drafted (2015-16) and took home defencemen of the year honours over Thomas Chabot, and he showed some of that skill in this series.

On Ottawa’s end, the regular trio of Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Mike Hoffman put on a show for the sellout crowd in Sweden. Stone and Hoffman nearly connected for two goals this period, but Jonathan Bernier (remember him?) was there. Karlsson was unfortunately at fault on the Avs lone goal of the period as on the powerplay, he read a bouncing puck poorly and Blake Comeau put away the shorthanded breakaway top-shelf on Mike Condon. It was reminiscent of the Matt Nieto chance last night that led to a penalty shot, only that this one ended up in the net.

For the rest of the game, though, Karlsson looked as unbelievable as ever. He finished with two points on the night, but could’ve easily had four or five if his teammates could finish. The Sens started the second on a carry-over powerplay, and off the opening draw, Karlsson dished the puck to Brassard, who passed it off to Hoffman on the left-wing after gaining the zone. Hoffman tries to dump the puck in behind the net, but it takes a crazy bounce and goes past Bernier to knot the game at one.

On his next two shifts, Karlsson set Brassard up on a dump pass from his own blueline, but Brass is stopped by Bernier. Then, Karlsson sends a cross-ice pass to Dzingel on the zone entry, but the speedy forward is poke-checked by a backchecking Erik Johnson before getting the shot off.

The Sens almost take the lead courtesy of a wonderful shift from DiDomenico, Pageau, and Pyatt. Pageau centers the puck for Chris Wideman, who snaps it home. However, the goal is challenged and called back, with the referees ruling that Tom Pyatt interfered too much with Jonathan Bernier. Wideman played the least amount of minutes among regular Sens players for the second straight night and also saw some time at right-wing in Boucher’s 11-7 format, while putting up a 90% (!) CF%.

The Avalanche are the ones who end up taking the lead with another special teams goal, this time on the powerplay with Tom Pyatt off for tripping. Alexander Kerfoot takes a pass from Erik Johnson, skates to the left faceoff dot, and rips it high past Condon for a 2-1 lead.

The Sens respond right away, with Karlsson finally getting rewarded for his offensive creativity. Mark Barberio, who had a horrible night with 6 PIMs, throws a pass up to Matt Nieto in hopes of clearing the zone, but it’s picked off by Karlsson. He takes some ice for himself and threads the puck to Stone in front of the net. Stone calmly turns and backhands it past an over-aggressive Bernier to tie the game at two.

The goals? They keep on coming, and this time, it’s the Avs taking the lead again. It starts with Kerfoot throwing a wild pass cross-ice after two Sens swarmed him in the defensive zone. Sven Andrighetto throws a shot on net, and it takes another big bounce off of Phaneuf’s stick to give the Avs a 3-2 lead. Guy Boucher pulls Condon after three goals on 10 shots and two in 2:02. Although I can’t say that any of the goals were his fault, it was clear that Boucher wanted to send a message to his players, and they responded. Although the Avs take a one-goal lead into the second intermission, the Senators only gave up two shots in the second half of the period (26-12 after two).

The Sens almost score in the first minute of the period again, with Hoffman missing the open net after being set up by Mark Stone. Later on, Karlsson sends Duchene on a partial break but the ex-Avs forward bobbles the puck before being able to tuck it behind Bernier. Duchene’s shift isn’t over though, as he gets the puck back and sends up Brassard with a one-handed pass, forcing the Avalanche to take a penalty.

Although the Sens are unable to score on the powerplay, their other Swedish defenceman — Johnny Oduya — ties the game at three with 13:00 minutes left. A lot of the credit on the goal goes to Nate Thompson, who opts to carry the puck in instead of dumping it, shields the puck off of two Avs defenders, and then sends the puck east-to-west to a trailing Oduya. Oduya takes the puck off the boards and one-times it past Bernier, who’s screened by Pyatt in front.

On the Sens third powerplay of the period and sixth of the game, they finally get rewarded for their hard work. Matt Duchene wins the draw back to Karlsson, who gives the puck back to Duchene on the left half-wall. Duchene sends the puck to Stone at the left-side of the net, and as he centers the puck, it goes off of Chris Bigras’ stick right to Hoffman, who slaps it home for a 4-3 Sens lead — their first of the game. The official scorers still have the goal as Hoffman unassisted, but if it changes, it’ll be Duchene’s first point in a Sens uniform.

As you can see in the image below, the Sens moved the puck well all night on the powerplay, and got two goals from it. The first unit of Karlsson, Hoffman, Brassard, Duchene, and Stone looked especially dangerous when it was on the ice.

The Sens keep the pressure on the Avs to defend the lead, and although they give up a late powerplay due to a Pageau high-sticking call, they defend the slot well and actively pressure the Avs point players. At 6-on-4 and 6-on-5, the Avs are unable to get anything of quality on Craig Anderson, who stopped all eight shots he faced over ~30 minutes of work in relief, and the Sens take home the regulation win.

Only Cody Ceci and Ben Harpur were <50% in terms of shot attempts tonight, and 11 (!!!) Sens players were >60%. The Sens also kept the Avs to a 1.04 xG tonight, a season-low mark.

Game Flow via Natural Stat Trick

Heat Map via Natural Stat Trick

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