Filip Gustavsson made 35 saves in his first career start and Chris Tierney scored the late winner as the Ottawa Senators beat the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Monday night.
By Chris Faria
The Senators were finally back in action after a rare four day break which, unsurprisingly, led to a fast-paced, scrambly opening period. 22-year-old Gustavsson was put to work straight away in his first NHL start, stopping 13 shots in the opening frame. His period was highlighted by a spectacular leg save on Andrew Mangiapane at the 13 minute mark to keep the game scoreless.
The Sens soon rewarded the rookie netminder as Auston Watson sprung Ryan Dzingel and Clark Bishop on a two-on-one. Dzingel looked off the pass and rifled the puck by Jacob Markstrom to put Ottawa up 1-0 just after the halfway mark of the first. The goal gave Dzingel his team-leading fifth goal in March since being reacquired from the Carolina Hurricanes.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 22, 2021
With the shot count knotted at 13 through the first, it was looking like this one might be a high-scoring affair. The Sens’ young goalie, however, seemed to have other ideas.
Calgary continued to push the pace in the second frame while the Senators hit the snooze button, failing to register their first shot of the period until nearly seven minutes in.
Soon after the Senators’ chance, Josh Leivo led an odd man rush for the Flames, sending a spin-around pass to Zac Rinaldo. The winger faked the shot and pulled the puck to his backhand, forcing Gustavsson into another highlight reel save to keep Calgary off the board.
The score remained 1-0 after 40 despite a lopsided 26-16 shot count in favour of the Flames, who threw another 13 pucks at Gustavsson in the period.
The Flames kept Ottawa’s offence at bay for most of the game, until Tim Stutzle came flying through the neutral zone at the 14 minute mark of the third. The young German picked up a loose puck a centre and galloped across the blue line before dangling around Flames defenceman Juuso Valimaki and firing a high shot that forced Markstrom into a tough save.
Through 55 minutes and 32 shots, Gustavsson looked virtually unbeatable in the Senators’ net, but the shutout was not to be. Milan Lucic fed a stretch pass from inside his own blue line up to a streaking Johnny Gaudreau who quickly snapped it into the top corner to tie the game at 1-1.
But just when it looked like Calgary had finally broken the dam and taken control of the game, the Senators countered. With just over 2:30 to play Mike Reilly sent the puck on net through traffic, forcing Markstrom into a tricky stop. The rebound found its way to Chris Tierney in the slot who made no mistake, putting it past the Flames’ goaltender for his first goal in 30 games, giving the Sens a late 2-1 lead.
The Flames pulled their goalie for one last push but couldn’t beat Gustavsson again, giving the Swedish rookie his first career win in his first start.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 23, 2021
It wasn’t the prettiest victory for the Sens, who were on their heels for most of the night, but Gustavsson surely won’t mind. Ottawa improves to 4-2-0 against Calgary this season with the win and will look to keep that momentum rolling. The rematch goes down on Wednesday at 5:00 PM EST.