The theme was Country Night at Canadian Tire Centre as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 in overtime. Although there was some John Denver in the music play list, there was even more James Barker Band, who played live during the first intermission of this match-up.
There was also a lot of significance in the victory for the Senators, who sit 21st in the NHL. On the season, Ottawa has defeated some of the NHL’s best, including the Tampa Bay Lightning (1st), the Nashville Predators (4th), the Toronto Maple Leafs (6th), and the San Jose Sharks (10th).
After this win, the Senators improve their record to 15-16-4 and 34 points. They sit sixth in the Atlantic Division and are five points shy of a playoff position in the Wild Card. Meanwhile, the impressive Predators record drops to 22-10-2, as they jump up to 46 points with the overtime loss. Nashville is second in the Central Division, tied in points with Winnipeg.
Senators First Period Firestorm
The Senators were happy to be home from a three-game road trip, and opened the game in dominant fashion. Max Lajoie scored first for the Senators on their first shot of the game, which also happened to be a power play tally. Then, three minutes later, the Sens struck again on their second shot of the game.
Falling to the ice, Colin White found Mark Stone with a remarkable pass. Stone, all alone, lost the puck while making a move around Pekka Rinne, before recovering it and passing it between the goalie and the post to an unguarded Brady Tkachuk, who made no mistake burying it.
“I don’t know what I did on that play. Tried four different things and ended up with a wide open net“, Stone remarked after the game.
Tkachuk’s goal ended the rookie’s nine game goal drought.
“Feels good. Feels a lot better that we got the two points”, said Tkachuk. “It was a good play by Stoney, pretty creative. I don’t know if he tried some of the things he did but it was a great play by him“, he laughed.
Even through the dry spell, Senators head coach Guy Boucher maintained confidence in the 19-year-old.
“I was not worried about Brady. He’s been on, he stays on, and as a young guy…he’s performing. He’s definitely having a terrific year“.
Before the period was over, Ryan Dzingel put the Senators ahead by three. He gunned into Nashville’s zone on a breakaway, with two Predators in close pursuit, and lifted the puck over Rinne with 12 seconds remaining.
The Finnish goalie had an uncharacteristically poor night, allowing three goals on just 11 shots, 9.14 goals against average, and .727 save percentage. Backup goalie Juuse Saros was called into action for the start of the second.
Despite a dominant first period for the Senators, the Predators would awaken in the second and third to take control of the remaining 40 minutes. By the end of regulation, the Preds would score three consecutive goals to tie the game 3-3 and force overtime, while outshooting the Senators 34-23.
Nashville’s comeback started with the lone goal scored in the second period, courtesy of Roman Josi. After sustaining pressure in the Senators zone on the power play, Josi made the most of his opportunity off a juicy rebound to beat Craig Anderson.
Even though the away team had an effective second period, they did most of their damage in the third. Only nine seconds in, Lajoie was called for tripping. Nashville’s Craig Smith cashed in again on the power play, which went two-for-five this game.
Then, six minutes later, the visitors pulled even when Josi scored his second of the game off an accidental Dzingel deflection, which fooled his own goalie. Of note in the Predator’s comeback was the effort of Ryan Johansen, who recorded three assists on the night.
Ryan v. Turris
At the midway point of the game, possibly one of the most unlikely fight match-ups formed at centre ice. Bobby Ryan of the Senators and his former teammate, Kyle Turris of the Preds, dropped the mits for a spirited tilt. After a few blows exchanged back and forth, Ryan scored the takedown, to the delight of the home crowd.
There was certainly no love lost between these former teammates. When Ryan was shown by the jumbotron returning to his bench after serving the penalty time, he received a loud round of applause from the fans.
“It’s great to see Bobby like that. He’s playing real well for us. To see that edge on him, I think the fans loved it and all the guys on this team loved it“, commented Chabot.
Spectators and viewers did not have to wait long before the winner of this match was decided. Thomas Chabot ended the game only 21 seconds after the start of over time. Collecting the puck from a Dzingel pass, Chabot used his effortless speed to cruise past a surprised Johansen, before sniping short side shelf on Saros.
“When I saw Dzinger creating the turnover, I just kind of jumped in. That guy was flat footed, and I kind of went around him, and I was looking for the pass but the d-man did a good job to cut it, so I saw that hole upstairs and I tried to get it“, reflected Chabot on his overtime game winner.
During his post-game reflection, Boucher admired the ‘easy’ and ‘effortless speed’ of his 21-year-old defenseman, a star in the making.
“He’s got easy speed, it seems effortless, and he’s so young. So you can imagine, in two, three, four years when he’s even stronger. It’s really impressive“.
- Mark Borowiecki returned to the Senators line-up after missing the last 12 games with a broken hand. He played a limited 10:47 throughout this game.
- The Senators have re-assigned Erik Burgdoerfer and Stefan Elliott to their AHL affiliate, the Belleville Senators.
- On Dec. 15, the Senators informed Christian Jaros that he will remain with the hockey club this season.
Official 3 Stars of the Game
- Thomas Chabot, Ottaw (1G, including the game-winner)
- Mark Stone, Ottawa (2A)
- Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa (1G)
The Senators hit the road for New Jersey to take on the Devils Friday. There is speculation that the Sens could have Matt Duchene and Dylan DeMelo back from injury in time for this game. The last time these two teams met, the Senators offence exploded in a 7-3 win on Nov. 6 at Canadian Tire Centre.
|Max Lajoie (7)||Mikkel Boedker (16)|
Drake Batherson (5)
|Brady Tkachuk (10)||Mark Stone (22)|
Colin White (14)
|Ryan Dzingel (13)||Mark Stone (22)|
|Roman Josi (6)||Ryan Ellis (12)|
Ryan Johansen (22)
|Craig Smith (10)||Roman Josi (19)|
Ryan Johansen (23)
|Roman Josi (7)||Kevin Fiala (11) |
Ryan Johansen (24)
|Thomas Chabot (10)||Ryan Dzingel (12)|
Cover Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.