The Ottawa Senators squandered a pair of two-goal leads in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Blake Wheeler tipped home Josh Morrissey’s point shot with 1:17 remaining to tie the game at three. Then Nikolaj Ehlers finished a textbook two-on-one – hammering home a pass from Andrew Copp at 2:20 of the extra frame to give the Jets the two points.
Senators’ coach D.J. Smith didn’t mince any words after the tough loss, which leaves his club with a 1-1-1 record after their first three games.
“We made a lot of young mistakes racing around, trying to score, rather than defend. That’s a learning lesson tonight. We lose a valuable point to them. We have to close games out like that. We played a great game. Other than not taking care of the puck in third period and overtime, we had good energy. We had good o-zone time. We did a lot of good things tonight,” said Smith.
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson echoed his coach’s sentiments. “We just got comfortable in the third. We allowed their top line to get their legs under them. That’s a very high-end top line that you have to smother for sixty minutes. They made us pay,” added the Ottawa native.
Connor scored the Jets’ second goal on the power play. Wheeler posted one goal, one assist, Scheifele, two assists.
“With a young team, what we’re trying to achieve this year here, it’s a real travesty if we don’t learn from it. That was pretty blatant. It hurts in your gut, and we got an opportunity to play them for the next two games. And we’ve got to do that the right way. Where we want to go and where we want to be in the future, we have to close games out like that,” explained Gudbranson.
The loss wasn’t all for naught, the Senators as a group took several strides forward.
The team opened quickly, peppering seven shots at Jets goalie Laurent Brossoit in the first two minutes of the contest. The Senators’ 18 first period shots on goal were only one shy of their entire total Saturday versus the Maple Leafs. The Senators posted a total of 41 shots on the night. They had 43 combined in their first two games.
Their power play came to life. After going one for nine over the weekend, the team notched two power play goals in five opportunities, posting 12 shots with the man advantage. The Senators had nine shots on their previous nine power plays heading into the game Tuesday.
Alex Galchenyuk who entered the lineup in place of Tim Stützle who’s day-to-day with a minor injury suffered Saturday scored one of the club’s two PP markers in his Senators’ debut. Galchenyuk was a welcome sight on the second unit. The left wing looked comfortable in teeing up one-timers from above the faceoff circles.
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Despite the loss, Josh Norris was the Games’ First Star. Norris netted his first NHL goal – firing home his own rebound on the power play.
The 21-year old posted six shots on goal after not managing one versus Toronto. Norris now has one goal, two assists on the young campaign after going without a point in his three appearances last season.
“It was nice to get the first one. It’s something you dream about,” Norris said via Zoom.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 20, 2021
Norris and his linemates Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson combined for 20 shots. For those that follow analytics, the trio also possessed solid Corsi numbers; Norris 78.26%, Batherson 68%, Tkachuk 67.86% at even strength.
The Michigan native told Full Press NHL, “It’s something we talked about as a line, keeping it simple, getting pucks to the net. All three of us are pretty big guys. We can play in front of the net. All three of us have skill.”
The Senators play their second of three games this week against the Jets, Thursday prior to completing their three-game set in Winnipeg Saturday evening.