It was always going to be an immensely close game between the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks. Two late penalties in the final ten minutes would cost the Sens dearly.
As mentioned in the buildup, the two goaltenders were going to run the show. Both goalies are technically speaking backups for their respective teams but could easily be a starter for a smaller franchise. Scott Darling would save 33 of the 34 shots aimed in his direction, leaving him with an impressive .970 save percentage. Similarly, The Ottawa Senators backup
Mike Condon saving 26 of the 28 he faced, left with a .928 save percentage. To be honest, Condon felt more like a .940 goaltender tonight bailing the Sens out of multiple situations. That is to take nothing away from Darling who was exceptional from start to finish.
A game jam-packed with indiscipline, both sides having five cracks at the powerplay. There was a clear sense of frustration within the Canadian Tire Centre as Derick Brassard didn’t receive the call on a high stick. A clear call that everyone in the centre bar the officials seem to catch. It would’ve offered the Ottawa Senators a five on three opportunity.
In all honesty, Chicago in spells played some of the better hockey. They look like a contender, their offensive moves were mesmerising at times. With such a reputation clearly comes some leniency from officials as a few too many calls weren’t offered Ottawa’s way.
First Two Periods
Although goalless, the first two periods contained enthralling hockey. In the first, the two sides were locked 13 shots apiece. Close once again in the second, 9-8 in Chicago’s favour.
The first two frames of this contest were an intensely high standard of hockey and an exercise in both the powerplay and the penalty kill.
It was to be the Chicago Blackhawks who would take the lead 8:04 into the final act. An optimistic shot initially stopped by Condon, that just about managed to creep in with Methot trying his best to prevent the puck crossing. A review ensued from the officials who correctly ruled the puck crossed the line. Head Coach Guy Boucher looked somewhat interested to try a review, thinking better of the idea.
The Ottawa Senators finally made the most of the countless powerplay opportunities given to them, when Kyle Turris fired home his 23rd of the season. A fully screened Darling had no sight of the puck.
It would be two late penalties that would result in the Ottawa Senators leaving the game empty handed. Firstly, Derick Brassard would take two for slashing, a thoughtless and idiotic penalty to take and a crucial point of the game. It was absolutely the right call. Brassard who in my opinion had an absolutely woeful night, the pinnacle of which was almost passing the puck past Condon. Luckily the post was in the way. Just before the conclusion of the initial penalty Marc Methot was called for a slash, a much tougher call and extremely debatable. The TSN commentary critical of the overcalling on slashes on the stick and not the hands.
A five on three chance for the Blackhawks resulted in the game winner as Patrick Kane operating in Gretzky’s office, cutely fed the puck to Panik how rifled the puck into the top-left corner. Mike Condon having no chance, given the two clear options Kane had behind the net.
Mike Hoffman was electric tonight and was extremely unlucky not to bag himself a goal. Proactive from start to finish. Pyatt also having a busy game, the pace of his game is always clear to see, his hands just letting him down at times.
Methot and Ceci can be frustrating to watch, whenever Karlsson or Phaneuf are not on the ice there seems to be panic. Claesson had a quiet game but nonetheless was solid and still deserving of his place in the lineup.
One point from two games isn’t good enough regardless of the opposition. Boucher will be furious with the cheap penalties given at the end. Montreal will unfortunately be licking their lips at the thought of playing this team on Saturday. Best the Ottawa Senators prove them wrong.