After a wild and crazy home opener, it’s time to settle into the reality of the NHL season: Thursday night games against teams like the Washington Capitals stomping on a human face forever.
In Memoriam: Eugene Melnyk
Eugene Melnyk (May 27, 1959 – March 28, 2022) was a Canadian businessman, philanthropist, and owner, governor, and chairman of the National Hockey League (NHL)’s Ottawa Senators and the AHL’s Belleville Senators. He was the founder, chairman, and CEO of Biovail Corporation, once Canada’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company with more than C$1 billion in annual revenue. He sold almost all of his holdings in the company by 2010. Canadian Business magazine ranked Melnyk 79th on its 2017 list of Canada’s 100 wealthiest people, with a net worth of $1.21 billion. He was one of the richest residents of Barbados.
- The TSN broadcast starts by pointing out that Ottawa doesn’t have any back-to-backs until December, so they’ll probably be riding Anton Forsberg hard for several months, which checks out. Tough times to be a part of Magnus Hellberg Hive.
- Ottawa catching Washington when they’ve already suffered several important injuries is pretty nice. Not to put too fine a point on this, but games at home against injury-riddled teams are the sorts of games you really need to win if you have playoff ambitions.
- Through the first TV timeout, very little of note has happened. Washington is here to play A Good Road Period and Ottawa is letting them. Josh Norris hit the post once, I think? I actually kind of like these sorts of games. They’re the hockey equivalent of a night at home where you and your partner are just at home on the couch together and nothing happens, and that’s kind of nice because life is about being as much as it’s about doing.
- Something finally happened, but unfortunately it was a Jake Sanderson tripping penalty.
- Something else just happened, and it was Hamonic firing the puck over the glass giving the Capitals a 5-on-3 for 1:12. It looks like the Sens are going to kill off the 5-on-3, but TJ Oshie finds a hole in the Senators defensive coverage (because there’s only 3 dudes on the ice) and snipes it glove side with 7 seconds left in Sanderson’s penalty.
- Anthony Mantha rips a wide-open one-timer during Washington’s second powerplay, and now I wish this game had spent more time being tied and the Sens spent less time doing penalties.
- Penalty Kill Korner: The Senators have allowed goals on 3 of their last 4 penalty kills. Might be time to check the oil on the ol’ PK systems…
- The Ovechkin line just speedbagged Ottawa’s 4th line for a full 90 seconds, and then they got a second kick at the can because Parker Kelly could only ice the puck to relieve the pressure. By my count, Washington had no less than 4 five-star scoring chances in those 2 minutes. I understand that 4th lines are 4th lines for a reason, and I’m trying to keep my expectations low for those guys, but it seems like they get hemmed in their own zone against the other team’s top line at least once a game. The Sens have got to stop letting the opposition get that matchup so easily, if only for my own sanity.
- Tkachuk got one of Ottawa’s best chances of the period on a sneaky tip in front of the net. Brady has come out of the gate miles better than last season. Beginning to think that maybe training camp and not having a long contract holdout is actually important to how well you start the year.
- Ovechkin went at Brannstrom one-on-one and Branny defended him nicely. Area White Man Does His Job, Receives Praise.
- Despite being down two goals, the Sens are still playing with a sort of methodical energy which I will laud as “Sticking with it and not panicking” if they come back in this game, but will decry as “a complete lack of urgency” if they don’t.
- Sanderson takes a hit up high and starts leaking extremely badly. Hamonic comes in to defend his D partner and goes off for roughing along with another Capitals player who happened to be around. Despite my general dislike of performative fighting, I can’t say I really mind this. When you’ve got a rookie bleeding out of his face, it’s good for someone to act like they don’t like it.
- DeBrincat draws a tripping penalty from Oshie, and Ottawa gets their first chance on the powerplay. Neat choice from Ottawa, as they go with a four forward (Tkachuk, Norris, DeBrincat, and Batherson) setup on the 4-on-3 powerplay. As the coincidental minors end, Batherson takes a cross-ice pass from Tkachuk and goes far side corner from an extremely sharp angle. It’s a big win for Powerplay Classic, and I’m sure Powerplay Zero (Giroux, DeBrincat, et al.) are fuming.
- Oshie sends the Senators back to the powerplay, and Powerplay Classic strikes again with Batherson chipping in a rebound from right in front of the net. Really hoping I don’t look back at these goals one day as being scored by someone who should be in jail.
- Norris thinks he makes it 3-2 for the Sens, but the goal is waived off for a high stick almost immediately. High-sticking seems like the one call NHL refs consistently make correctly, and the no-goal call is confirmed following a brief video review. Tough break for Norris who can’t catch anything but the post so far this season.
- After playing A Perfect Road Period to start the game, Washington is coming undone here. Conor Sheary takes a terrible penalty seven miles away from the play and Powerplay Classic goes back to work. Brady Tkachuk throws Powerplay Zero a lifeline by taking an undisciplined slashing call, bringing the powerplay to an unceremonious end.
- Chabot winds up and goes coast-to-coast from behind his own net and finds Norris right in front with a beautiful pass. Norris rips it off the post, because that’s all he can do these days We would have seen that rush on highlight reels for weeks if Norris could have found the net there. Chabot looking like a young Karlsson in his prime, there.
- Ottawa manages to kill off a full two-minute penalty, punctuated by Zub taking a Ovechkin slapper right to the hand. This Russian-on-Russian violence is typical of a Putin apologist like Ovechkin.
- The game is starting to open up here at the end of the 2nd, as Washington has a 4-on-2 and Ottawa has a 3-on-1 on consecutive rushes. Then Parker Kelly lays out John Carlson with a big hit, and then there’s a fight and it looks like Washington is slowly coming to the inexorable conclusion that they are Getting Sens’d.
- Ovie takes an undisciplined high sticking penalty at the end of the 2nd (is there any other kind of high sticking penalty?), and Ottawa’s going to start the 3rd on the PP. To close out the 2nd, DJ Smith gives us a brief glimpse of Powerplay Cherry which has Giroux and Debrincat out with Tkachuk, Batherson, and Chabot.
- The Sens start the 3rd with Powerplay Zero on the ice: Tkachuk, Giroux, Pinto, DeBrincat, and Sanderson. Seems like Tkachuk is pulling double-duty on both powerplay units now that Motte on the PP has been correctly identified as the psychedelic coke-dream it always was. Powerplay Zero acquits themselves adequately, but the score remains tied. The best chance comes from Powerplay Classic, as Tkachuk hits the post on a one-timer. Is it just me or are the Sens hitting like 4 posts a game this season? Maybe that’s the normal number of posts per game. I have no idea. I’ve been watching Chris Tierney for fucking YEARS, dude.
- Giroux finds DeBrincat at the backdoor with a beautiful pass, but DeBrincat can’t elevate it over the pad of Kuemper. DeBrincat has a bad case of The Norrises, as he has yet to score the season despite getting what seems like one great chance a period.
- The third line does a bit of dump and chase, and then a textbook forecheck by Joseph and Motte leads to a Pinto goal from the exact middle of the slot, and it’s 3-2 Sens. Secondary scoring is the thing that makes the Sens a real hockey team now. In years past, a quiet night from the 1st or second line would be a one-way ticket to a frustrating loss. A third line that can chip in with a timely goal every few games is going to be one of the main things keeping the Senators in the playoff hunt this year.
- Jesus Christ, Anton Forsberg: these are some of my favourite historical miracle workers.
- Here’s a new thing this season: having taken a one-goal lead in the 3rd period, the Senators are keeping their foot on the gas! With 7 minutes to go in the game, shots in the 3rd period are 14-3 in favour of Ottawa. Combined shots in the 2nd and 3rd are 31-8 for Ottawa. It’s like the team all has money on Ottawa -1.5. Also I’m not trying to be mean here, but I can’t help but notice that this extended period of extremely strong play from the Senators also corresponds with a time in which the 4th line has not touched the ice.
- DeBrincat takes another pass from Giroux and again he can’t find the back of the net. DeBrincat is approaching “needs to bank one in off his own ass” levels of snake-bitten-ness.
- There’s a minute left, and it’s a one-goal game, but Washington has barely had the puck. What a dominating performance from Ottawa to close out this game.
- With the net empty, Washington gets one good shot from the point which Forsberg saves, and then Motte chips the puck out, chases it down, and seals the game with an empty-netter. What a team effort!
- DeBrincat scores into the empty net with 7 seconds left just to shut me up. Pretty good bit. Josh Norris when? Sens win 5-2.
Washington looked like they didn’t want to win this one, and Ottawa obliged them.
Here It Is, Your Moment of Salieri