So late in the season, it can be hard to find reasons to invest in the games. The standings are pretty much set, so it’s hard to care so much about wins or losses. Instead, we’re just looking for entertaining games and good individual performances.
In a way, tonight’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets was exactly the type of game we want to see from this season-ending Ottawa Senators team. They played well for the most part, a few players added impressive stats, and the game was interesting from start to finish. I’ll take it, I guess.
From the first puck drop, the Sens wanted to send the message that this game would not be a repeat of last night’s terrible performance against the Rangers. For my part, I appreciated that. Less than two minutes later, our favorite duo of besties have united to put the Senses on stage. Brännström started the game, but Tkachuk returned the puck to Josh Norris who buried it, as he usually does.
(Did Pierre Dorion write this tweet?)
I love this game because it shows how far this team has come in terms of building chemistry. Tkachuk knew exactly where Norris would be, and he knew it would be a good idea to send him the puck. You like to see it.
A few minutes later, the Sens went on the power play, but it was tragically short-lived as Brännström was sent to the box almost immediately for… *checks notes*… interference?
I do not understand either.
The Tkachuk-Norris duo did an even more incredible job at 4v4, but didn’t score.
Ottawa dominated the rest of the period, edging the Jets by a wide margin and coming close to scoring on several occasions. Unfortunately, however, a very unfortunate rebound tied the game late in the period. Ehlers sent a pass through the slot, and it bounced off Victor Mete and straight into the net. Mete had also played well so far. 1-1.
To add to the bad vibes in the second half, Zub went to the box with about a second and a half to go on the clock.
Despite a good shorthanded chance for Brown and Formenton, the Sens failed to kill that penalty, allowing a goal at the very end. 2-1 Winnipeg.
Just as Ottawa had had complete control of the game for most of the first, Winnipeg took over in the second. After a few minutes of offensive pressure after the go-ahead goal, the Jets got a 2-on-1 that Søgaard couldn’t handle. 3-1 Winnipeg.
In front of Marie-Philip Poulin and other Canadian Olympians watching from the stands? It’s so embarrassing.
The rest of the middle frame continued like this – essentially a throwback to the type of play we saw from this team at Madison Square Garden yesterday. Luckily, they bounced back a bit towards the end and even earned themselves a power play with just under a minute to go, as former senator Zach Sanford headed for the box. It might have raised some hope if it was another team.
It wasn’t just any other team, though. It was the 2021-22 Ottawa Senators, and we know full well that they don’t win hockey games in which they fall behind after two periods. Other than this time, the Oilers have beaten each other, of course.
In a nice change of pace from what we’ve become used to, the Sens actually had a lot of jumps to start the third, clearly looking to pull off the comeback. The captain kicked things off by tapping in a nice pass from Colin White after Stützle did a great job getting the puck to the net. 3-2 Winnipeg.
Unfortunately, a penalty to Mathieu Joseph gave the Jets another chance on the power play. Søgaard made some good saves, but ultimately the Jets’ power play was just too much for this team, and Kyle Connor regained the two-goal lead. 4-2 Winnipeg.
Shortly after, Tim Stützle pissed off a few players with a big hit, and as the players scrambled, Ottawa somehow ended up with a minor bench for too many men on the ice.
Somehow, the Sens kept the puck out of their net and got a few good even-strength chances before going back on the power play.
The first power play didn’t yield any results, but another came right after, and Brady Tkachuk scored his second of the night to bring his team within one. It was a particularly cool goal, as Brady showed excellent hand-eye coordination to shoot the puck into the net. Are these the “Baseball Senses” everyone is talking about? 4-3 Winnipeg.
With about two minutes left, Ottawa pulled the goaltender out and actually looked incredibly dangerous with the extra forward on the ice. Definitely the best they’ve seen in 6v5 all season, which isn’t saying much, but it’s still an improvement.
Of course, they still failed to equalise, thanks to a stellar goalkeeper from Hellebuyck. They made it interesting, but ultimately lost 4-3 in regulation time.
- Brady Tkachuk has hit another level recently and he was amazing in this game. He could easily have scored 3 or 4 goals, and let’s not forget that great pass to Norris. 30 goals could be back on the table for him.
- Tim Stützle was business as usual when he returned from injury, which is to say he was stirring things up every shift and could have scored several goals. Give the man some real top 6 strikers to play with next season, please.
- Erik Brännström also looked dangerous with the puck all night, and especially good with the empty net.
- Poor Mads Søgaard was much busier tonight than he was in his first NHL game, and I didn’t think any of those goals were his fault. For his second start only, it was a very good game for him. It’s always nice to see.