The longer the Ottawa Senators stay alive in the playoffs, the more recognition Erik Karlsson is going to get for being one of the greatest hockey players on the planet (and certainly the most underrated). Though Karlsson’s game-winning goal is not exactly evidence of it.
Karlsson’s goal from about a 91-degree angle gave the Senators a 2-1 lead that held up for a Game 1 win over the Rangers. Let’s call it luck—it bounced off Derek Stepan in front and off Henrik Lundqvist’s back—but, and not to sound too much like annoying fans yelling “shoooooot” on every power play, you don’t get luck if you don’t put the puck on net.
One more look:
“I just wanted to get the puck in there and hope for a good bounce. I got a great bounce and it’s just nice to get,” said Karlsson. “I think with the amount of pucks we put at the net, we deserved one of those.”
The Senators did indeed pummel Lundqvist all night, putting 43 shots on goal, including 21 in the first period. Until a team solves shot quality (which is probably not be a thing that can be solved in the long-term) shot differential is still a useful metric. (And has a useful counterpoint—if you’re taking a shot, that means your opponent isn’t threatening back in your end.) And while it’s relatively pointless in one-game sample sizes, shot percentages tend to flatten and settle so it’s axiomatic that if you keep shooting, sometimes it’ll go in. Not often on a shot like Karlsson’s...but sometimes.