The Ottawa Senators entered their season-opening game looking like the exciting team that went deep into the 2016-17 playoffs. Ottawa’s offensive chances disappeared as the game evolved and at the end, the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Senators 4-3 in overtime. Patrick Kane did the damage on a backhander. “It was a terrific shot by one of the best players in the world,” Senators coach Guy Boucher said.
Up 3-2, the Senators pressed to expand their lead, but couldn’t pull away. “Offensively we had so many chances,” said Boucher. “The key here is we didn’t bury it when it would have hurt.”
Even though the Senators scored three goals, they easily could have had five more throughout the game. On multiple occasions, they hit posts and crossbars, whiffed on scoring opportunities, and were stonewalled by Cam Ward.
Despite these thwarted attempts, the chemistry on the Senator’s top three lines showed plenty of promise. Boucher’s post-game comments were supportive of the team’s direction: “There was a lot of good stuff from a lot of players and the attitude on the bench was terrific.”
If the team builds on this synergy, the Senators offense could surprise this season.
Maxime Lajoie (cover photo) played with the spirit of a 20-year-old who has his whole hockey life in front of him. In his first NHL game, he registered a goal, an assist, and two penalty minutes. Lajoie’s goal was picture perfect, as he hammered home a one-timer top shelf from a Matt Duchene sauce-pass. Lajoie also tied Alexandre Daigle for a franchise record tonight for most points in an NHL debut with the Senators. “You saw Lajoie,” Boucher said. “That’s the reason he’s here, a goal and an assist.”
After a tumultuous week, Zack Smith scored the Senator’s first goal of the season. He nearly had two, but his second goal was waived off by the referee as a high-stick. Smith played effectively during the game and created additional scoring chances. During the pre-season, the Senators unexpectedly placed Smith on waivers for performance reasons. He cleared waivers and one game in, Smith showed he’s a different player.
Out of Gas
The Senators hit the ice flying. They had plenty of energy, chemistry, time on attack, and scoring opportunities. This resulted in three goals in the first 20 minutes. However, as their chances dried up their energy sagged. This offensive breakdown was costly as Chicago worked their way back on the scoreboard. Brent Seabrook tied the game midway through the third period, and Kane won it early in overtime.
- There was a heartwarming video tribute for Jonathan Pitre before the game. Pitre, one of the Senators most dedicated fans, suffered from epidermolysis bullosa, also known as “EB”. He passed away at 17 years in April. During his short life, Pitre fought tirelessly to raise awareness of EB for the benefit of others. He was described as “a hero in every sense of the word”. To honor Jonathan, the Senators named their hardest working player award at training camp the “Jonathan Pitre Memorial Trophy”. His mother, Tina Boileau, also dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.
- Brady Tkachuk was recently sidelined by a groin strain. He may be healthy to debut this Saturday when the Senators visit the Toronto Maple Leafs. This has yet to be confirmed…
- Chris Tierney registered his first point as an Ottawa Senator on Colin White’s power play goal. Tierney was one of the many pieces acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Erik Karlsson trade.
- Max McCormick left the game in the second period and did not return.
- Boedker had plenty of opportunities this game but could not register any points, only posts.
- Craig Anderson, Ottawa’s starting goaltender, is a native of Park Ridge, Illinois and was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2001. Anderson was busy tonight. The Blackhawks outshot the Senators 43-25. His steady play in the crease was a big reason this game was close.
|1||Chicago||1-0||4:40||Alex DeBrincat (1)||Unassisted|
|1||Ottawa||1-1||6:47||Zack Smith (1)||Colin White (1), Thomas Chabot (1)|
|1||Chicago||2-1||10:30||Jonathan Toews (1)||Erik Gustafsson (1)|
|1||Ottawa||2-2||12:06||Maxime Lajoie (1)||Matt Duchene (1), Ryan Dzingel (1)|
|1||Ottawa [PPG]||2-3||16:32||Colin White (1)||Maxime Lajoie (1), Chris Tierney (1)|
|3||Chicago||3-3||12:38||Brent Seabrook (1)||Patrick Kane (1), David Kampf (1)|
|OT||Chicago||4-3||0:38||Patrick Kane (1)||Jonathan Toews (1)|
Cover Photo Credit: Wayne Cuddington/Postmedia
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter @BillyMorrison01.
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