The Pittsburgh Penguins opened the game with a strong start but it was the Ottawa Senators who finished stronger, in a hard fought 2-1 overtime win on Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre.

Ryan DzingelCraig Anderson, and Thomas Chabot all starred in the Sens first game without team leading scorer Matt Duchene and veteran Bobby Ryan. Following the game, Chabot credited the character of his teammates for stepping up to the challenge of winning without their two key players.

We’re missing pretty big parts of our team but obviously it’s always fun. It shows how much character we have in this locker room. Guys step up, even though there’s players injured, and obviously, it’s a great win.

Senators head coach Guy Boucher agreed. 

Considering all of the circumstances, that’s an outstanding win for us. Great character, and the guys sticking together, finding a way, and that’s what we told ourselves. There’s always a way.

After the 30th game of the Senators 2018-19 campaign, the team has improved their record to 13-14-3 and 29 points. With the win, the Sens leap over the Florida Panthers to rank seventh in the Atlantic Division, while ranking 23rd overall in the NHL. Meanwhile, the Penguins drop to 12-10-6 and 30 points, sitting fifth in the Metropolitan Division and 20th overall.

Penguin Rush

The Penguins stormed on to the ice and completely outplayed Ottawa in the first period. Through their organized style of play and creativeness, they managed to create tremendous scoring opportunities on multiple occasions. As a result, the Pens spent a lot of time on the attack, peppering Anderson with 16 shots in the opening frame, compared to Ottawa’s seven. 

The Senators goaltender did everything he could to keep the game scoreless after one. Arguably his most stellar save was a blocker stop he made while falling down, which came against the always dangerous Sidney Crosby. On this night, the 37-year-old Anderson earned the game’s second star with a 1.00 goals against average and a .971 save percentage,  after he stopped 35 of 36 shots.

Despite the massive marginal difference in first period shot count, it was the Senators Chabot who opened the scoring. The 21-year-old teed up a slap shot from the blue line, which blasted by Casey DeSmith. This marker was Chabot’s eighth goal of the season, which ranks him third amongst defenseman in the NHL for most goals. More impressively, the native of Sainte-Marie, Quebec, regained the NHL scoring lead amongst all blue liners with his two point performance against the Penguins. 

Ruffled Feathers

The second period opened much differently from the first. Only 11 seconds in, it appeared that Zack Smith scored to put the Senators up 2-1. However, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan issued a coach’s challenge to the goal to determine if the play was offside. From many camera angles, it appeared as though the play was inconclusive, meaning the call on the ice would stand. However, after a lengthy review, the referees, with the help from Toronto, determined the play was indeed offside, and the goal was called back.

The recalled goal seemed to have an affect on the game’s momentum, which suddenly swung in Pittsburgh’s favour. Less than four minutes later, Jean-Sebastien Dea tallied his fourth of the season to tie the game 1-1. Dea picked up the puck from just outside of Ottawa’s zone, and used his speed to wheel past Ben Harpur and beat Anderson high on the short side with a wrist shot.

Senators Step Up

Throughout the second and third periods, Ottawa battled hard and started to recover momentum. In both periods, the teams tied with 10 shots each. The Penguin pressure from the opening 20 minutes had relaxed considerably, while the game was becoming rougher, and the Senators began creating some of their own offensive opportunities.

I think we compete harder. When we look at the first period, they were winning the battles, they were winning the battles in front of the net… starting in the second, we did a better job. We won our battles, we gave them less room, and I think it gave us some success for the rest of the game“, said Chabot during the post-game scrum.

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The game became more rough and edgy as time counted down. Some memorable moments included a second period battle between two giants named Justin Falk and Evgeni Malkin; a big hit by Cody Ceci on his former teammate Derick Brassard; an illegal check to the head from Smith on Crosby, which was blown down by the referees; a cross-check to the face by Kris Letang on Chris Tierney, which went uncalled; a Mark Stone body check on Letang moments later to deliver justice for his teammate; and a take down by Brady Tkachuk, also on Letang, which literally flipped the Penguins defenseman on his head.

Surprisingly, despite the offensive potential on both teams (the Senators rank sixth in the NHL in goals for, while the Penguins rank ninth), the third period was scoreless, and both teams entered overtime with the game 1-1 after 60 minutes of hockey.

OT Dzingel Bells

Early in overtime, Pittsburgh got into penalty trouble when they were called for too many men on the ice. The Senators did not take long to capitalize on the pursuing power play. From the blue line, Chabot passed it to Stone, who sent it to Dzingel with a no-look pass. Standing next to the net, from a near impossible angle with both feet behind the goal line, Dzingel roofed it over DeSmith’s shoulder, before he was swarmed by his teammates in celebration. 

After the game, Boucher revealed he had both a timely and relevant  experience earlier in the day. 

“The funny thing is, I had a weird feeling this morning we were supposed to practice five-on-four. So, we practiced five-on-three and four-on-three, and the boys executed perfectly…the guys worked hard at it this morning and it ended up paying off tonight.”

Snap Shots

  • On Saturday morning, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion announced forwards Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan will miss significant time due to injuries.
  • Max Lajoie and Max McCormick made their returns to the line-up on Saturday. McCormick, in McCormick style, let his presence be known early with a big hit on Olli Maatta in the first period. 
  • The Senators recalled Nick Paul from Belleville (AHL) on Friday. Paul has 11 points (2G, 9A) in 15 games with the B-Sens, and has one assist in six games with the NHL club this year.
  • The Senators penalty kill remains last in the NHL. However, that may be starting to turn around. Ottawa has successfully killed off 17 of their last 18 penalties. 
  • The Senators are now 5-0-0 at home on Saturdays this season. Interestingly, this favourable record aligns closely when DJ Prosper is in the house, entertaining the fans during intermissions.

Official 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Ryan Dzingel, Ottawa (1G, which was the Game-Winner)
  2. Craig Anderson, Ottawa (1.00 GAA, .972 SV%)
  3. Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh (1.96 GAA, .931 SV%)

Up Next

The Senators host the Boston Bruins at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. It will be the second game of their back-to-back matchup this weekend. This game will also be their last home game before a three-game road trip, which includes stops in Nashville, Detroit, and Montreal.

Scoring Summary

Thomas Chabot (8)Mark Stone (19)
Jean-Sebastien Dea (4)Unassisted.

Ryan Dzingel (12)Mark Stone (20)
Thomas Chabot (25)

Cover Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.

Billy Morrison

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