Ian Mendes is a certified Ottawa legend, and, based on my personal experience, an all-around mensch and good dude. That said, when I read the above tweet yesterday, I knew there was only one way last night’s game against the Minnesota Wild could possibly go. Let’s get to the carnage.
- DJ Smith starts his 4th line to celebrate Mark Kastelic’s new contract, and Auston Watson gets everyone going with a fight right off the opening faceoff. After expressing my appreciation for this 4th line in my last recap, I’m immediately feeling apprehensive about them going forward. I love a good hard-nosed lunch-pail group of blue-collar guys going out there and grinding out some greasy goals and generally being a pain in the ass, but when DJ Smith starts to say stuff like “They’re the identity of how we want to play.” and throwing them out there to start games, it starts to give the whole thing a “Coach’s son is getting all the powerplay time” feel that I don’t like. For me, the identity of how the Senators want to play is Shane Pinto scoring in 5 straight games, but maybe I’m just built different.
- Debrincat turns and fires a lose puck in the high slot and we hear the beautiful consecutive sounds of a ping, the crowd, and the horn. Good start!
- Auston Watson heads out of the box and into the dressing room since he’s injured himself from fighting for no reason off the opening faceoff.
- Matt Dumba hits Stützle up high and Brady Tkachuk drops the gloves with Dumba um seinen deutschen Bruder zu verteidigen. Mr. Brightside plays.
- Zub takes a penalty in his own zone by being stronger than Marcus Foligno. Time to see if we’re getting Ottawa’s Good PK or Ottawa’s Bad PK tonight.
- It’s the bad PK. Minnesota ties it at 1 off a longish snipe from Zuccarello.
- Ottawa gets gifted a powerplay, and DJ Smith sends out the Debrincat-Sanderson-Brassard-Pinto-Giroux unit to get things going.
- Ottawa’s best chance on the powerplay comes when DeBrincat takes a nifty chance pass from Tkachuck, but can only fire a backhand into the side of the net from a sharp angle. Certainly not the worst scoreless powerplay I’ve ever seen.
- With about 4:30 left, Stützle tips a Hamonic point shot right on, and is unlucky to have Fleury stop it entirely by accident.
- The 4th line does some “identity of how we want to play” shit by getting absolutely pumped by Minnesota’s 1st line for several cycles. Zub did not help matters by losing his stick halfway through his shift.
- Kaprisov tips in a long point shot on what is frankly a ridiculous looking play. I’m not sure what else Brannstrom is supposed to do here short of stabbing the guy. 2-1 Minnesota
- As the period is ending, DeBrincat takes a great pass from Brassard, walks around Fleury, and fires it directly into
the empty netFleury’s glove. Derick Brassard’s face says it all.
- Apparently Zaitsev is back in the lineup tonight, by the way. Brannstrom is the defenseman being tasked with sharing Zaitsev’s terrible on-ice results in the first period. Here’s a quick look at how that’s going:
- The Tkachuk-Stützle-Batherson line loses a scramble draw in their own zone, and when none of the three Ottawa forwards can come up with the puck, Hartman has nothing but time and space to go high blocker on Forsberg, making it 3-1 for the Wild.
- I’m not convinced that the ice has been as tilted as the 24-11 shot clock suggests, but also it’s not like Minnesota hasn’t been the better team, especially defensively. It doesn’t help that Fleury’s made big stops on Ottawa’s best chances so far.
- Ottawa finally puts a few good shifts together, but any momentum is quickly ended by Brassard taking a delay of game penalty for no reason.
- The Wild do whatever they want, except score, during their PP with 6 shot attempts.
- Ottawa has completely failed to right the ship following the powerplay, and now it’s DeBrincat-Giroux-Pinto-Brannstrom-Chabot group exhibiting the 4th line’s identity by getting worked in their own zone. Chabot puts in a 2:19 shift. Shots are 18-3 this this point in the 2nd period.
- Giroux, bless him, manages to draw a penalty in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd period. I guess if Ottawa’s going to find a push to try to come back in this one, this would be a good place to start.
- Gotta give it up to the Sens for that PP, they generated lots of chaos and chances and just couldn’t get it past Fleury somehow.
- Not much to say about this period. The Sens got worked. That’s it.
- If you wanted to find some small nugget of a moral victory to hang your hat on, I guess it would be that Minnesota has blocked 21 shots to Ottawa’s 9 through the first two periods, making the shot clock look more lopsided than maybe it should be. That said, I’ve been watching this game, and the only team that’s put together extended stretches of dominance has been the Wild.
- Calen Addison takes an undisciplined interference penalty in the offensive zone, and then Ottawa immediately draws a hooking penalty from Hartman, meaning Ottawa’s going to get 1:40 of 5-on-3 action.
- DeBrincat fools every single member of the Wild by passing to Chabot instead of firing the puck directly into Fleury for the 8th time this game, and Chabot easily scores into the open net. Ottawa now has at least one more minute of PP time and 15 minutes left in the game to find a tying goal.
- Game is getting chippy as Tkachuk does some classic “accidentally” falling into someone, bringing up some 4-on-4 play. The Wild get two fantastic chances right in front of Ottawa’s net which, which are saved by Forsberg, and then Batherson picks up a puck in the high slot and fires it off the outside of the post. You’re not going to see many better chances to tie the game than that.
- Chabot lays but a single glove on Rossi in a show of brotherly affection, and is sent off for holding or something. This game is so weird. It’s had no flow to it whatsoever, and Minnesota has done a better job of taking advantage of it.
- Ottawa kills off the penalty, keeping their hopes alive, but time is running out. I’m unsure how to grade the PK performance tonight. Minnesota’s had a lot of shots, but not too many “high danger” shots. I dunno, at a certain point allowing one goal on the PK per game is still too many goals. Let’s just say that this isn’t the best part of Ottawa’s game right now.
- With 2:36 to go, Brady Tkachuk draws a high stick right in front of the Wild net. The Sens win the draw, and Forsberg immediately goes to the bench giving Ottawa a 6-on-4. I actually kind of hate 6-on-4s because the defending team gets to try to shoot at the empty net without having to worry about icing the puck. Turns out the thing I actually had to worry about was Thomas Chabot failing to control a bouncing puck at the blue line, springing Gaudreau in on the empty net all alone, and icing the game for Minnesota.
- To be clear, I fully agree with pulling Forsberg on the PP with two minutes left. You really going to wait for the penalty to expire before bringing on an extra skater? Come on, now.
- Ottawa goes gently into that good night, and the game ends in a 4-2 loss.
Pretty terrible game as a spectator experience, but at least the Senators also lost. Full credit to Minnesota for making the game as ugly as possible and then beating Ottawa with experience.
Here It Is, Your Moment of Salieri