After an exhilarating day of hockey news that saw Brady Tkachuk finally ink a long term deal with the Ottawa Senators, the team got straight to work.
In the first frame, Chris Tierney opened the scoring by redirecting a puck off his skate and past Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek.
Not long after, the Sens got after it again. With Wayne Simmonds in the box, the powerplay got to work. Firing a puck through traffic, Thomas Chabot’s wrister hit Tyler Ennis in front for a comfortable 2-0 lead. So far, two goals and both were deflected. Rough luck for Mrazek.
And just when you thought this day couldn’t get any better, Alex Formenton potted his first of the season in the dying second. The dying second, singular. I just wanted to emphasize that part. Thanks to the Leafs inability to exit their zone, Victor Mete found Alex Formenton for the one timer.
Despite getting outchanced and outshot, the Sens walked into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead. It shouldn’t be understated how good Anton Forsberg was in the first period. With Matt Murray missing time due to a non-COVID illness, Forsberg had the weight of the home opener put on his shoulders and he looked calm, cool and collected for the first 20.
While nothing happened on the scoresheet in the second period, it was all Senators all the time. The shots and chances tiled in the home team’s favour, including a stretch where Ottawa outshot Toronto 12-1. The Sens had a number of top grade chances, including this beauty from Zach Sanford.
Tim Stützle was all over the ice in the second frame. If there was a player who should have scored in this period, it was Stützle.
In the third period, the Sens went down a man early, giving the Leafs an opportunity to start on a high note. Forsberg stood tall through most of the period but did end up allowing a goal from familiar face Jason Spezza, as he fired a rocket into the back of the net.
The discipline issues in the third continued, as the Leafs would get a number of tries with the extra skater. As they say, when you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned and William Nylander made sure of that.
Ottawa would stave off a steady Maple Leaf attack through the remaining penalty kills, while drawing a penalty on John Tavares in the final minute to win their season opener, 3-2.
Forsberg was solid throughout, stopping 45 of the 47 shots he faced. We saw fantastic performances from a number of young Senators, including Parker Kelly who ranked second in forwards in CF%. Kelly’s physical presence was evident and when he was on the ice, the Sens had the puck. As a player who’s fighting for a regular spot in the lineup, you couldn’t have asked for more from Kelly.
Formenton led all Sens players in even strength CF% with 75%, scored a goal and added three hits. Another young player making his mark on the lineup, Formenton was one of Ottawa’s best wingers, without a doubt.
On the backend, the pairing of Nick Holden and Josh Brown looked good, playing defensive minutes and not allowing too many chances against. The Senators were easily moving the puck with the new top pairing of Chabot and Artem Zub. The vibes were off the charts as well, as the crowd yelled “Zuuuuuub” every time our loveable blueliner touched the puck.
Overall, a fantastic first win for your Ottawa Senators.