The Ottawa Senators started slow Thursday, allowing two goals in the first five minutes on the way to falling 5-4 to the hot Colorado Avalanche at the Canadian Tire Centre.
Coming into the game, the Avs were on a three-game winning streak after a 2-1 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs the previous night.
The Sens did their best for a third-period comeback with goals from Travis Hamonic and Brady Tkachuk, bringing the game within one and giving Sens fans hope. But, thanks to a spectacular outstretched save by Jonas Johansson in the final minute, the Avs kept their lead and won the game despite the late Sens comeback.
The Avs came out strong, scoring two unanswered goals, including two points for their Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar. He scored the first goal 2:35 into the game on a shot from the top of the circle.
The second Avs goal was scored on the power play by forward Valeri Nichushkin, giving the Avalanche the 2-0 lead.
The Sens lacked intensity early and didn’t record a shot for the first seven minutes. The slow start for the Sens ended up being their downfall.
After trailing early, the Sens played well for the remainder of the first period. They put pressure on the Avs, generating multiple scoring chances before finding the back of the net with only 26.7 seconds remaining in the first. Drake Batherson got the puck past Johansson on a tip from Tim Stützle’s shot.
The Avalanche retook their two-goal lead 4:23 into the second period and never looked back. Avs leading scorer Mikko Rantanen scored his 45th goal this season on a tip from a Nathan MacKinnon point shot. Rantanen and MacKinnon both finished the night with three points.
Shane Pinto found the back of the net after he took advantage of an opportunity midway through the second period. Pinto’s goal brought life back into the Canadian Tire Centre with half the game remaining.
The momentum Pinto had created with his goal got zapped when forward Evan Rodrigues scored on a wrist shot, marking the Avs’ fourth goal on only 20 shots. With the 4-2 lead late in the second period, the Sens slow start was back to bite them.
The Avs struck for the third time in the second period with a controversial goal. After the puck was dumped into the Sens’ zone, Sens goalie Mads Sogaard covered it before Avs forward Lars Eller tapped it in. The call made the whole arena boo; Sens fans were disgusted with the ruling.
Senators coach D.J. Smith challenged the goal for goaltender interference, but the call stood, making it 5-2 Avalanche. The confirmation of the call made Sens fans even more livid — the boos were loud, and a chant of “ref you suck” broke out.
The Sens will now look to their next game on Saturday night. They will play the battle of Ontario against the rival Maple Leafs in Ottawa.