Tonight was about speed. Who had it, who could harness it, and who could slow themselves down enough to make beautiful plays. A 3 minute span in the first period saw Boston jump to a 2-1 lead. Both teams abandoned any hope for a slow, trap em through the neutral zone type of game and began blasting pucks on net every chance they got. After Saturday night’s loss to the Leafs this game was exactly what the Senators needed. Game one of the seven game roadtrip in the books and the speed of this game is still baffling me. A Nathan Horton, 3rd period, workhorse goal gave the Bruin’s the lead, and them some monumental puck luck kept them their tonight as the Bruins downed the Senators 3-2, in one of the best hockey games of the year, hands down.
How do your legs feel? Good? Prepared to sprint for 20 straight minutes? You better be, that’s the first period. Ottawa grabbed this game in a vice off the puck drop with some tremendous offensive pressure. In an example fairly typical of our Sens, the Bruins fell victim to a poor defensive zone exit, and an interception by Zack Smith led to a quick backhander from Colin Greening passed Anton Khudobin. Then the same thing that always seems to happen to Ottawa occurred. They scored a goal and just let off of everything. 40 seconds after the Greening goal Robin Lehner made a B-E-A-utiful save which lead to a defensive zone faceoff. Off the draw the Bruins took control and a Zdeno Chara blast off the body of David Krejci meant the game was quickly tied at 1. Not to be outdone by their ability to let teams back into a game, Ottawa went slack again, and a poor defensive zone exit led a Tyler Seguin give and go open net goal.
A lucky and questionable goaltender interference (no penalty) call led to a no goal against Boston as Big Z UNLOADED a shot from the point. According to the Bruins telecast, Lehner jumped out of the net, which may or may not be a massive exaggeration. Though the interference was questionable, the emotional momentum shift titling in Ottawa’s favor was in plain sight for everyone to see. The finals minutes of the period were dominated by the Senators. On a beautiful give and go, Mike Hoffman drove hard to the net and was somehow stopped by some magical invisible wall, maybe a Nintendo Wall? I’m still not sure how it didn’t find the net, poor Hoffman was break that goose egg soon enough, he has too much explosive speed and talent not to.
Enter the second period. And are you legs still working? Are you sure? BECAUSE HERRRRRREEEEE WEEEE GOOOOO. But seriously, this period, combined with the first, is the definition of a track meet in a hockey game. North, South, Save, North, South, Save, North… you get it. The whistles were few and far between this period as long stretches of play marked by beautiful setups and even better saves defined this 20 minutes. On a side note, 2 times in the period Jakob Silfverberg had absolutely amazing opportunities to tie the game back up, and somehow, someway Khudobin made the save, once aided by his friend the post. With the teams each pushing 30 shots at the end of the second, pucks are being fired on net like it’s going out of style, and the goaltenders are in the most stunning to watch duel I’ve seen in a long time.
There’s no way the third period can match the first two right? RIGHT? Wrong! This period is what you would imagine if the first period had a baby with the second period and it took all the best qualities of both and combined them. Robin Lehner was making dictionary definition saves, Khudobin was following everyone, this period had it all. On a scrambly play 2 minutes into the period, a Mika Zibanejad and Jakob Silfverberg play ends up with Khudobin tot he side of his net, making an absolutely amazing diving save on a point blast from Andre Benoit. Play continues on for another minute or so, and then guess what? That amazing save? Not so much! Turns out Benoit’s blast goes in off the back cross bar, and this game is knotted up at 2 each, in a game where points are the most valuable thing in the world. A Dougie Hamilton, play the man not the puck, moment shifts the puck back into the Sens zone, and Nathan Horton puts the puck back behind Lehner, giving the Bruins back their lead, at 3-2. In a game with a pace that I’m sure even Jack Edwards going crazy trying to keep track of, the Bruins ended up taking home the win.
- The pacing of this game was INSANE. IN. SANE. I got winded just watching it. The penalty kills were top notch as we all expected but regardless of calls, this game was all speed all the time. It made for one of the most entertaining games in recent memory, and something amazing to wipe the memory of the previous game against the Leafs.
- GOALIES! ALL CAPS! The two goaltenders in this game chose to redefine the word “stellar”. Both Lehner and Khudobin were outstanding .It was predicted in the game preview and they did not disappoint. Old School is the word that comes to mind here. There were punch outs with blockers, kicks to the top of the circle, double pad stacks, it was something truly sensational to watch.
- The 7 game road trip got off to a bang tonight. Regardless of outcome, this is how a team wants to start a road trip, especially one that eats up over half of the teams remaining games. The rest of the trip maybe a bit of a challenge to keep up this pacing, but the team came out strong after their previous game. That game is a distant memory, and now there is only the memory of blazing speed on display here.
SENSHOT PLAYER OF THE GAME
This one is tough to nail down. Silfverberg and Hoffman had outstanding games tonight, despite some bad puck luck, but there is one player that was on his head all night. Goaltender Robin Lehner did exactly what we all expected him to do, he played lights out. With that many pucks on net, Lehner looked like he continued to get sharper as he played, which is a great thing for us to see.
Despite being on the road, Ottawa gets a few nights off. Up next the team sees action against the surging Buffalo Sabres. Once the trade deadline gets all bolted up for the year, it’ll be interesting to see the two teams that hit the ice come friday night. Though I wouldn’t be expecting too many changes in the Senators lineup this year. Puck drop for Friday night’s game is 5:00 PM.