The Ottawa Senators stayed afloat in the race for a wild card spot with an overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (March 30). Alex DeBrincat potted the winner just under two minutes into the extra frame to keep them within five points of the playoff line.
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DeBrincat and the Senators benefited from a costly turnover by Flyers netminder Felix Sandstrom in overtime, with Claude Giroux forcing the mistake that ultimately secured the extra point for Ottawa.
“I think Claude was forechecking pretty hard and made him put it there,” DeBrincat told reporters in the arena. “A lot of credit [should go] to him. He got it in deep, forechecked the goalie pretty hard and handcuffed him. He should probably be credited with that goal.”
Austin Watson, Tim Stützle, Shane Pinto, and Giroux also found twine on an eventful evening in Ottawa, which saw the Flyers score three unanswered goals in the third period to send the game to overtime.
Cam Talbot posted a miserable .636 save percentage (SV%) on his return from injury, stopping just seven of the 11 shots he faced against the snowed-in Flyers. It was the 35-year-old’s first start in more than three weeks, with a mid-body injury keeping him out of action down the stretch.
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There is also concern around the fitness of Derrick Brassard and Travis Hamonic, both of whom left the ice nursing lower-body injuries against the Flyers.
With that, here are The Hockey Writers’ three takeaways from a crucial win for the Senators over the Flyers. There is plenty to unpack.
Senators’ Stars Show Up in Statement Win Versus Flyers
The Senators’ win over Philadelphia was a remarkable display of skill and determination from both teams, but it was the home side who came out on top courtesy of outstanding performances from their star players.
Stützle led the way for the Senators with a goal and an assist in 23 minutes of ice time. The German has been a revelation this season, showcasing his skill and vision night in and night out. His ability to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates was a key factor in the win over the Flyers.
DeBrincat and Giroux also impressed, but young centre Shane Pinto deserves special recognition. The 22-year-old continues to impress with his two-way impact and was a valuable contributor versus Philadelphia.
“The jobs not finished and we’ve got seven games left,” said Pinto. “We’ve just got to keep winning games. That’s all that matters.”
The Senators need their star players to produce in the final weeks of the season; their performance versus the Flyers was a very positive sign in a tense playoff fight.
Senators’ Cam Talbot Struggles in Injury Comeback Game
While the Senators emerged victorious in a high-scoring game against the Flyers, the performance of goaltender Talbot was a cause for concern. The Canadian, who was making his first start since missing 12 games with a mid-body injury, allowed four goals on just 11 shots, resulting in a paltry .636 SV%.
To put this performance into perspective, a .900 SV% or higher is considered average for an NHL goaltender, with a .915 SV% or higher being the benchmark for a good performance. By allowing four goals on 11 shots, Talbot’s SV% was well below average, and his performance was a major factor in the Flyers’ third-period resurgence.
Talbot’s poor form is a worrying sign for the Senators heading into the final weeks of the regular season. With the team still in the hunt for a playoff spot, they need their goaltending to be solid and consistent down the stretch. If Talbot is unable to improve his play, it could prove to be a significant obstacle in the Senators’ quest to make the postseason.
Although Talbot’s return to the lineup is a positive development for the Senators, his performance in his first start back was subpar. His lack of sharpness and questionable decision-making will be an area of worry for the team going forward, and they will need him to find his game quickly if they hope to achieve their playoff aspirations.
Senators Show Staying Power in Playoff Scrap
The Senators shouldn’t have required overtime to beat the Flyers. Period. They dominated from puck drop until the final buzzer, but were dragged into a desperate fight with an organization tanking for Connor Bedard due to defensive mistakes, penalty minutes, and poor goaltending.
Ultimately, though, only the final result matters to the Senators. In their uphill battle to make the playoffs, every point matters and they collected a pair from the Flyers.
“We worked extremely hard, created a lot I thought, and we laid off a little bit in the third,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “And when they got chances, they went in the net.”
While Smith would have preferred his team avoided an overtime tangle with Philadelphia, he will take pleasure from the Senators’ ability to pull through. They’re still five points outside of a playoff spot but have everything to play for in the weeks ahead.
What Next for the Ottawa Senators?
The Senators will welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday (April 1). With the Maple Leafs already assured of a playoff spot and juggling their lines down the stretch, the game represents a serious opportunity for Ottawa to add points to their tally. After their tangle with Toronto, the Senators will embark on a three-game road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers.
The Senators’ playoff hopes remain alive as they continue to fight for a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite some concerning moments from Talbot, they pulled through thanks to a collective effort from their star players.
With only seven games left in the regular season, it is now or never for the Senators. They simply must keep winning to stand a chance of making the playoffs.