Though scoring five third period goals may not have been the game plan heading into Saturday nights matchup, the Sens came away with a much needed victory over the Oilers. Some might say retribution for last year when Edmonton won all nine contests between the two teams; you just can’t lose to the same team ten times in a row.
The Sens took the lead just over ten minutes in on a power play goal by Josh Norris, only for the Oilers to tie it 1-1 with less than a minute left in the first. Ottawa put up a solid effort through the first two periods, but headed to the locker room down 3-1 after a two goal period from Edmonton. The third period saw six total goals from both teams, with the Sens beating Skinner five times to secure the 6-4 victory. Despite giving up 4 goals on 37 shots (.892%) Matt Murray looked solid in the net and made some impressive saves to keep the team in it.
Looking for offense in the third, DJ Smith put the lines in a blender in order to shake things up, and was able to spark a comeback. Drake Batherson was dropped down to the second line in order to pair up with Stützle, while Formenton was placed with Gaudette and Tierney. The changes seemed to take immediate effect as Formenton and Gaudette came away from the game with a goal and assist, Tierney had two assists, and Batherson and Stützle both had an assist. To top it off, Norris had the game winning goal on the power play, his second of the night. The first power play unit seems to be clicking quite well, but Ottawa is still looking for more production from its second unit, which will prove difficult after Connor Brown was diagnosed with a broken jaw and will be out 4-6 weeks. Even with the injury, I expect the coach to roll all four lines, and looks like the newfound line combos will continue in the near future. After Gaudette and Formenton both had a goal and assist (Formenton with 11 points in his last 11), I expect their ice time to increase, for Formenton it’ll be due to the Brown injury, and Gaudette now that he has the confidence of the coaching staff.
With just 31 games, Ottawa has the second least games played in the entire league, and will be required to play a significant amount of games in a short time period. If the Sens can get consistent goaltending and regular contributions from their young core, they have a good chance of jumping some teams in the standings, and finish the season in an area most people expected them to be, just outside the playoffs.
Next up Ottawa plays host to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, the first game at home since December 11th, and will unfortunately will once again be played without fans.