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G69 Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers look to rebound against struggling Ottawa Senators

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
19 days ago
After an uninspiring 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, the Edmonton Oilers will face the Ottawa Senators, who will give them an opportunity to get right back into the win column.
1. The Senators will also be on the second leg of a back-to-back as they picked up a 5-2 win on the road against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The win in New Jersey snapped a three-game losing streak and put the Sens at 29-36-4 on the season.
Ottawa finished the 2022-23 season with a 39-35-8 record, only six points out of a playoff spot, so this year’s performance has been a step back for the team. The Sens last made the playoffs in 2016-17 when they made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference Final, and barring some late-season miracle run, this year will be their seventh miss in a row.
2. A major struggle for Ottawa this season has been keeping the puck out of their own net. They inked Joonas Korpisalo to a five-year, $20 million contract in the off-season to form a tandem with Anton Forsberg and the duo has combined to post an .886 save percentage so far.
Korpisalo was coming off of a strong season split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and L.A. Kings before he signed in Ottawa. He posted a .911 save percentage in 28 games with the Blue Jackets and then improved to a .921 save percentage in 11 games with the Kings.
After opting not to re-sign Korpisalo, the Kings wound up signing Cam Talbot in free agency, who had been one of Ottawa’s goalies in 2022-23. Talbot struggled to an .898 save percentage with the Sens, has improved to a .917 save percentage with Los Angeles, and looks like one of last summer’s biggest bargains on a one-year, $1 million contract.
Beyond being a cruel irony for Sens fans, the Korpisalo and Talbot situation pretty clearly illustrates that Ottawa’s issues with keeping the puck out of their own net is the result of more than just poor goaltending.
3. The Sens rank 22nd in the league in shots against per 60 minutes at even strength, and only seven teams are allowing high-danger chances against at a higher rate than they are. It would take Vezina Trophy-caliber goaltending to compensate for the defence that plays in front of Korpisalo and Forsberg.
Ottawa’s top pairing of Jake Sanderson and Artum Zub are the only two defenders on the team with an on-ice goal differential above 50 percent. Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, and Jacob Bernard-Docker come close to breaking even but Jakob Chychrun and Travis Hamonic are sitting at 43 and 40 percent, respectively.
Chychrun has been a major disappointment on Ottawa’s blueline. The team moved their first-round pick in 2023 plus two second-round picks to acquire him ahead of last season’s trade deadline and he’s been on the ice for the second-most goals against of any defenceman in the NHL this season. The only defenceman who’s been on the ice for more goals against is Mario Ferraro, who logs 23 minutes per night for the San Jose Sharks.
4. In terms of scoring goals, the Sens are a middle-of-the-pack team. They rank eighth in scoring per 60 minutes at even strength but their power play is among the league’s worst at 16.74 percent. Brady Tkachuk is leading the way with 31 goals, Drake Batherson has 24, and Claude Giroux and Tim Stutzle are just shy of the 20-goal mark with 19 and 17 goals, respectively.
The Sens have less of a scoring punch now than they did the last time they faced the Oilers back in January. Vladimir Tarasenko, who sits in a tie with Stutzle for fourth on the team with 17 goals, was traded to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline. Josh Norris, who’s just behind Tarasenko and Stutzle with 16 goals, will miss the rest of the season because of an upper-body injury.
5. If the Oilers can take care of business in Ottawa on Sunday, they’ll sweep their season series against the Sens for the second year in a row and the third time in four years. The two teams met in Edmonton while the Oilers were in the midst of their 16-game winning streak and a hat-trick from Zach Hyman led the team to a 3-1 victory.
The Oilers won both of their meetings with the Sens in 2022-23 by scores of 6-3 and Edmonton pulled off a nine-game season sweep over Ottawa in the All-Canadian division in 2021. The Sens got some payback on the Oilers in 2021-22 with two wins but this is a head-to-head that’s been dominated by Edmonton lately.

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