Senators 4, Red Wings 1
The Ottawa Senators picked up the two points in the Motor City and left the Detroit Red Wings in the rearview mirror.
It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the Senators ended a three-game losing streak and swept the season series against the Wings with a 4-1 victory Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Led by a strong effort from goaltender Anton Forsberg, the Senators received timely goals from Tim Stuetzle, Drake Batherson and Austin Watson as the club scored its third straight win over the Wings this season.
Stuetzle iced the game with two empty-netters and picked up an assist as he extended his point-scoring streak to six straight games.
Ottawa had some good chances to extend the score, but Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss was solid. The club put its foot on the gas in the third and kept going after the Wings while also playing well defensively.
While Batherson returned from a non-COVID illness after missing three games, the roster took another hit with defenseman Artem Zub sidelined with the flu. He was the only player who had suited up for all 72 games this season.
The late scratch meant Victor Mete suited up for his second straight game and veteran Michael Del Zotto returned after being scratched Saturday.
“I probably lost about 10 pounds there,” said Batherson. “That’s probably the most sick I’ve been in my life. I wanted to get back in and I was good enough to go.
“It was fun to be back and not at home puking or throwing up, or stuff like that, so it’s good to be on the ice.”
The Senators were closing out their season series against the Wings. The club scored a 5-2 victory in Detroit on April 1 and another 5-2 win on April 3 in Ottawa, but this was going to be a different challenge.
“Both teams are a long way from the finished product, but certainly we just want every win we can and we’re missing some pieces,” said coach DJ Smith. “They’re missing younger players that are going to come.
“Hopefully, it’s a rivalry down the road and we’re both fighting for a championship in the playoffs and banging like Florida, Tampa and Toronto right now. Both teams are on the way to being that.”
This one wasn’t nearly as wide open as the first two games of the season and the Senators had only two power-play opportunities. The Senators have now gained points in their last six games against the Wings with a 5-0-1 record.
Returning after watching Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at home from the bench, Forsberg was looking for his first win three starts. He’s given the club a chance to win every night, but he hasn’t always gotten the offensive support.
After a wide open first, the two teams tightened up in the second and the Senators were sitting where they wanted after two periods.
The Senators pulled out to a 2-1 lead on the strength of Batherson’s 15th of the season. He tipped a shot from the point by Del Zotto underneath the bar and by Greiss at 15:32 of the third.
Through 40 minutes, the Senators had to be pleased with where they stood and the club did a way better job in the second limiting the chances on Forsberg.
The Wings tied it up 1-1 with 7:33 left in the second on the power play and Nikita Zaitsev in the box. Parked down low, Tyler Bertuzzi picked up a favorable bounce off the boards and fired it by Forsberg’s glove side under the bar.
He didn’t have much of a chance to make the stop on that one and he made a lot of good stops.
Both teams used their speed in the first and there were good opportunities, but it was Watson’s fourth in five games that gave the club a 1-0 advantage.
Going to the net, Watson, who grew up in nearby Ann Arbor, Mich., took a perfect pass from Josh Norris in the slot and beat Greiss with a mere 4.3 seconds left in the period. The club outshot the Wings 14-11.
That’s five goals in the last seven games for Watson and that was his eighth of the season.
“Lately it’s been going in for me,” Watson told TSN after the first period. “I’ve been trying to pick up my game and the way our team has been working down the stretch, it’s nice to see a couple go in.
“That was an unbelievable pass. He’ll find a way to get you the puck. I don’t even have to yell, he just has some great eyes and he’s an elite player.”
Even if the Senators hadn’t gotten on the board, the club would have had no complaints about its effort in the first. The club was creating scoring chances and had no shortage of energy.
With nine games left on the schedule, the Senators are bound and determined to finish strong. The club wants to head into the off-season on a positive note, and this was the kind of effort the Senators want to see nightly.
The Senators will face the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at the TD Garden to wrap up this two-game road trip.