Tim Stutzle hated the way he started Tuesday’s game, but felt pretty good about how things ended as the Ottawa Senators blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0.
Stutzle had a goal and an assist to lead the Senators and continues to impress all those around him.
The 20-year-old centre now has eight points, including five goals, in his last six games.
“Tim’s one of those guys who has confidence and makes plays that not a lot of players can make,” said teammate Claude Giroux. “Right now, he’s got confidence so we try to get him the puck and we try to get open for him.”
Stutzle felt he was terrible in the first, but was proud how he and his teammates rebounded for the final 40 minutes.
“I was awful in the first, that’s for sure,” said Stutzle. “We just talked in the intermission that we’ve got to stick with it. We had a couple of bad turnovers here and there, especially our line, but we tried to stick with it, play better in the second period and the third period and I think everyone in here did a great job.”
Derrick Brassard and Austin Watson also scored for Ottawa (18-17-3), while Anton Forsberg made 22 saves in his second consecutive start for his second career shutout.
With the shutout on the line Travis Hamonic blocked a Patrick Laine shot late in the game that didn’t go unnoticed.
“Obviously standing up for the team, for me,” said Forsberg of the sacrifice. “It’s not easy to eat one there, it’s 3-0 and it’s just the kind of character we have on this team and I think we show it’s just not that, it’s all over. We do a great job.”
Joonas Korpisalo, who didn’t get much offensive support, stopped 33 shots for Columbus (11-23-2), who have now lost eight straight road games.
Trailing 3-0 to start the third period, the Blue Jackets tried to make a game of it but struggled to generate any real offensive threat.
Frustration was evident as the losses play a toll on the Blue Jackets.
“Sometimes the best wins are coming from behind, and we just haven’t seemed to kind of ever find that this year,” said Cole Sillinger.
“We haven’t scored the most goals, right? We’re scoring one, two, maybe maximum three goals a game, and it’s tough when you get down 3-0 in the third and you’re trying to fight back. We just have to dig a little deeper and play together.”
Watson made it 4-0 scoring short-handed into an empty net late in the third.
Four minor penalties in the second cost the Blue Jackets with Ottawa scoring twice on the power play.
“(We) took four,” said Columbus coach Brad Larsen. “What do you expect is going to happen against a good power play? It’s just silly. They’re all penalties, every single one of them.”
Brassard opened the scoring with a power-play goal after he tipped a Jake Sanderson shot. Stutzle made it 2-0 after he grabbed a rolling puck and beat Korpisalo. Batherson made it 3-0 with the Senators second power-play goal of the period and his 13th of the season, 10 of which have come on the power play.
The game remained scoreless after the first period, but the Blue Jackets had the better chances of the two teams.
It was the start the Blue Jackets were looking for, but Forsberg was up to the challenge.
“For whatever reason they kind of surprised us,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. They’re a lot faster team than maybe we thought, their speed off the puck, but the response was great.”
The Senators are approaching the halfway mark of the season and are slowly gaining ground in the standings, but know consistency will be the only way to keep progressing.
“We’ve got to keep chipping away,” said Smith. “We want to get back in the pack, I think that’s our big goal. January’s a big month for us.”
DeBrincat on fire
Alex DeBrincat has been on fire since Nov. 25. In 18 games the speedy winger has 21 points (8-13-21), while Drake Batherson has been just as productive with 21 points of his own (7-14-21).
Senators defenceman Erik Brannstrom returned to the lineup after missing five games, but news isn’t so good with the other injured Ottawa players. Josh Norris is not expected to return any time soon, while Tyler Motte is still weeks away. Mathieu Joseph, who has missed 11 games, is likely to be the first to return.
The Senators are not back in action until Saturday when they take on the Seattle Kraken. Columbus will head home and host Washington Thursday night.