Connor Brown's Record Setter Isn't Enough
For the first half of the NHL season, there were very few players as snake-bitten around the net as Senators winger Connor Brown. For certain, Brown is to be credited for the effective, hard work that's led to all those chances, but it's uncanny how many he squandered. So, he might be the last guy you'd expect to be setting a team scoring record.
But, on Saturday night against his old team, he did just that.
In the midst of a 6-5 loss in Toronto, Brown's third period goal extended his club record goal scoring streak to seven. Brown shared the previous mark at 6, with Drake Batherson (2021), Jason Spezza (2010), Daniel Alfredsson (2007) Dany Heatley (2007) and Bob Kudelski (1993).
Down 5-3, Brown's record-setting goal — on a terrific feed from Evgenii Dadonov — made the game close in the third period but it wasn't enough. Toronto would later seal the deal with an empty netter, wasting one of Ottawa's best offensive games of the year.
Brown wasn't the night's only record-setter. Every time Jack Campbell wins now, he'll add to his NHL goaltending record of consecutive wins (now 11 and counting) to start a season.
Once again, the Senators were victimized Saturday by two of the best in the game. Barely over the trampling they endured from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl this season, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner picked up right where those two left off.
Matthews had a hat trick as he and Marner combined for eight points on the evening. Their second goal, started by defenceman Morgan Rielly, looked like something you might see in an undefended passing drill with cones at an NHL practice. It was that easy, that perfect.
The Senator goals came from Brown, Batherson, Alex Formenton, Tim Stützle and Josh Norris.
Even though the game had a definite back-and-forth feel to it, the Senators only had the lead for a grand total of 27 seconds. They were excellent in the early going, working hard to create multiple chances. But Matthews jump-started Toronto — scoring twice in 39 seconds — staking Toronto to an early 2-0 lead they'd take into the locker room
Tim Stützle had one of his best games yet, absolutely flying in the second. 12 minutes in, Stützle helped cut Toronto's lead in half, ringing one off the post before Batherson tucked in the rebound from an awkward, backhanded angle.
Less than two minutes later, Alex Formenton tied it with a shorthanded effort, stripping Rielly of the puck at the Ottawa blue line and then doing what he does best - outskating people. Formenton made no mistake, beating Campbell, five-hole, for his 3rd goal since a long overdue call up eight games ago. Then Stützle struck again off a face off, ripping home a wrister through traffic that found its way into the top right corner of the net. That was the 19 year old's first goal in over a month.
More importantly, it gave Ottawa a 3-2 lead but Toronto pushed right back. And guess who did the pushing? In the final 3 minutes of the second, Marner crammed in a rebound off a wild scramble to tie the game, and then Matthews scored to give Toronto a lead it would not relinquish, capping off a hat trick in the process (funny, no hat throwing these days).
The game was Ottawa's 42nd of the year, just past the half-way point of a normal campaign. The club has 30 points — on pace for just under 60 — which would be their worst point total since 2017, the year they went to the Conference Final.
It's quite likely a player or two, as they took off their gear Saturday night, did so for the final time as an Ottawa Senator. The trade deadline looms at 3pm Monday so the club may dabble in the trade market before they host Winnipeg a few hours later.
The fan base has a list of the usual, veteran suspects they'd like to see shipped out. As this tough season begins to wind down in Ottawa, the feeling may be mutual.
By Steve Warne | Sens Nation Hockey