Despite a valiant effort to get there, the Ottawa Senators failed to extend their losing streak to 10 games thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon. They were vastly outplayed and outmatched in each of the game’s three periods, but were also the beneficiaries of stellar goaltending from Marcus Hogberg on their end and… less than stellar goaltending at the other end of the ice. It wasn’t pretty, but the win counts just the same.
Here are Saturday’s thumbs:
Thumbs Up: Marcus Hogberg
Injuries are never good, but the prime benefit to come out of Anders Nilsson’s health woes is most definitely the emergence of Marcus Hogberg. He was once again fantastic in the Ottawa crease, stopping 40 of 42 shots fired his way.
Without Hogberg, there is no chance that the Senators walk out of the building with a win today. His teammates only managed to take three shots on goal in the first period, while the Flames fired 15 at him. Somehow the Senators reached that intermission with a 1-0 lead. His heroics were certainly deserving of a second career victory.
Thumbs Up: Brady Bests Brother
Any time these two teams get together, all eyes are on the Tkachuk brothers. On Saturday, it was Brady who got the better of the battle. He scored his 15th of the year to open the scoring, and later added an assist on Connor Brown’s 10th of the season.
Was there a bit of luck involved on his goal? Sure. Should David Rittich have been able to cover the puck on Brown’s tally? Absolutely. Was Brady caved in at even strength in terms of both shot attempts and expected goals? You bet. But, at the end of the day, he walked out with two points and a win, while Matthew left with nothing.
Thumbs Down: The First Period
It’s not unheard of, but to see a team generate only 8% of the expected goals in a single period (per Natural Stat Trick) was really quite shocking. Calgary skated circles around the Senators all afternoon, but the first frame was a special kind of ugly.
Thumbs Up: Three Straight for Connor Brown
For those of you not counting at home, that’s a third straight two-point game for Connor Brown. He now has 31 points through 48 games this season, and looks poised to absolutely shatter his career high of 36. With a contract negotiation on the horizon, he is getting hot at the right time.
Thumbs Down: Scott Sabourin’s Role
Don’t get me wrong – it’s phenomenal to see Scott Sabourin healthy and skating after his scary collision earlier this season. At the same time, though, it’s really difficult to figure out what he’s bringing to the roster. He’s not someone who is going to be a long-term piece in this rebuild effort, but he’s taking a lineup spot from someone who might be on any given night. The couple minutes per game that he plays aren’t worth that when it's someone like Rudolfs Balcers in the press box.
Thumbs Down: All-Star Anthony Duclair
The Senators managed to avoid a ten game losing streak, but Duclair did not manage to avoid a ten game goalless streak. It continues. While he did manage to pick up an assist on Tkachuk’s goal, it was another woefully quiet game from Duclair. Neither the eye test nor the underlying numbers made him look pretty. Perhaps the opportunity he’s been given with this all-star selection will allow him to gain a bit of confidence before his reunites with the Senators in just over a week’s time.
Bonus Thumbs Up: Wes McCauley’s Gesture
It’s not every day that two brothers have the opportunity to take an opening draw against each other with so many family members in the stands, but that’s exactly what referee Wes McCauley manufactured for Matthew and Brady Tkachuk today:
With the win, the Senators climb two spots in the standings to 28th. They now have over a week off for the all-star break, before returning to action next Monday against the New Jersey Devils. That will be an immensely important game from a draft lottery odds perspective. Until then, there will be no shortage of Senators coverage around these parts. I’ll have Mike’s Mailbag responses, a discussion on Anthony Duclair’s slump, thoughts on the trade deadline, and more.
As always, thanks for reading.