The 2020-21 NHL season is well under way and after more than a week of on-ice action, we have already seen a good glimpse of what new alignments will bring us. Tonight, at the Canadian Tire Centre, we saw the Ottawa Senators go up against the Winnipeg Jets for the second time this season. The Sens are coming off of a tough 3-4 overtime loss against the Jets Tuesday night and were hoping to even the score tonight. Senators rookie, Tim Stützle was sidelined for his second straight game tonight with a minor injury. As a result, Alex Galchenyuk saw more minutes on the second line. Centre Artem Anisimov was scratched tonight as well due to the return of Colin White. Jets forward, Patrik Laine also sat out from tonight’s game with an upper body injury.
By Tyler McIsaac
Both teams opted to go with their number one goalies in tonight’s match up. Two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Matt Murray faced up against the 2019-20 Vezina winner, Connor Hellebuyck. Although Ottawa took a penalty early on in the game (Alex Galchenyuk – Hooking), the opening period looked to be a battle between two evenly matched teams. However, Winnipeg made sure to finish the period with the upper hand on the score sheet. With just over eight minutes left in the first period, Jets forward, Nikolaj Ehlers fired a shit off of a drop pass from Andrew Copp which lead to the first goal of the game. Up 1-0, Winnipeg aggressively tried to build on that lead but Ottawa showed resiliency by getting in front of shots and having goaltender, Matt Murray, continue his strong play in net. While the Senators finished the period trailing, they could feel good about killing off some crucial penalties while also outshooting their opponent 11-10.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 22, 2021
Early into the second, Ottawa would go on the penalty kill once more after Josh Brown took a delay of game penalty. The Senators were again able to kill off the penalty but Winnipeg eventually managed to convert their chances at even strength. Just after five minutes into the second, Mark Scheifele scored his second of the season with Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers getting the assists. With 12:55 left in the period, the Jets added to their lead. Trevor Lewis fired a shot off the post and Adam Lowry was able to bury the puck past a vulnerable Murray. There would be no letting down for Winnipeg. With just over six minutes left in the second period, Jets captain, Blake Wheeler would rush to the Ottawa net and give his team a 4-0 lead after a quick pass from Scheifele. After an evenly matched first period, Winnipeg took advantage of their power play and out shot the Senators 16-8 during the second.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 22, 2021
Following the first two periods, Matt Murray was pulled from the contest. Backup net minder, Marcus Högberg would serve as Ottawa’s goaltender for the remainder of the game. Within the first minute of the third, Brady Tkachuk found himself scrapping with Jansen Harkins. Both would serve minor penalties but that wouldn’t be the end. Ottawa and Winnipeg went back and forth between their ends as Winnipeg set full focus on defending their lead. With four minutes left in the game, both squads became more aggressive with each other with players piling on top of one another. Tkachuk found himself in a fight with Jets defenceman, Nathan Beaulieu and both would get sent off the ice for the night. While it appeared that the Jets were cruising for victory, that wouldn’t stop the Senators from spoiling a Jets shutout. With just under three minutes left, Nikita Zaitsev fired a shot towards the net that would ricochet off Chris Tierney’s skate and give Tierney his third goal of the season.
There were not a whole lot of positives to take from tonight but we can expect this Senators team to only get better as they continue to develop chemistry. Despite losing by three goals, the Senators matched the Jets in shot totals and seemed to be very effective on the penalty kill. If this young Sens squad maintains this type of energy going forward and improve on taking care of their zone, sky is certainly the limit. The Senators will look to bounce back against the Jets in Winnipeg on Saturday at 10:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.