The Saturday afternoon match-up between the Ottawa Senators and the San Jose Sharks lived up to expectations – and more – as the Senators handed the Sharks a 6-2 loss at Canadian Tire Centre.
Ex-Senator and former captain Erik Karlsson returned to Ottawa for the first time since his blockbuster trade to San Jose before training camp; ex-Shark Mikkel Boedker sunk his former team with a four-point night; and Senators goaltending hero Craig Anderson made big, timely saves, to extend the Senators win streak to three games. All this action provided for a very entertaining game of hockey in what was the most anticipated game of the Senators 2018-19 season. It was a bonus that the young, rebuilding Senators had an exciting and dominant performance against an expected Stanley Cup contending team from the Western Conference before one of the most attended games at the CTC in quite some time.
Following the game, Senators head coach Guy Boucher acknowledged the potency of the Sharks roster and observed how the Senators are developing their game to play stronger defence.
“They’re a team that’s aspiring, for quite a few years now, to win the Cup, and they definitely have the players to do so“, said Boucher about the Sharks. “The last four games now, there’s definitely a shift. We were pretty much all offence before that, which is fine, because that was a goal to develop the enthusiasm and confidence. Right now, we’re developing our confidence to be able to defend and we’re developing our depth, which is really evident”.
With the win, the Senators record returns to .500 on the season, improving to 12-12-3, along with 27 points. Meanwhile, the Sharks drop to 12-10-5 and remain at 29 points, just two points ahead of the Sens.
Return of the King
This match marked the first return of “King Karl” since he was traded by the Senators to the Sharks before training camp.
The 28-year-old was warmly welcomed back to his former home. Fans cheered when his name was announced on the Sharks starting roster, when both teams let him skate alone for two laps around his zone during pre-game warm-ups, and when he touched the puck in the first period. However, they saved their loudest and longest standing ovation for their beloved star player during his video tribute.
‘EK65’ spent 9 seasons as a Senator. He was drafted 15th overall in 2008, collected 518 points in 627 games, and won two Norris Trophies. During his time with the Sens, many identified him as the best defenseman in the world.
As a Shark this afternoon, however, Karlsson was held pointless. Yet, it was not for a lack of trying. He fired an impressive nine shots on goal against his former club, and finished the game with one hit, one block, and a minus-two rating.
Rough’n Tough Start
With the niceties finished early, the Senators and Sharks got down to business.
In the first period, there were a series of thundering hits exchanged between the hockey teams. Memorable checks included Mark Stone hammering Brenden Dillon, Ben Harpur nailing Tomas Hertl, and Dillon crunching Matt Duchene.
The heavy hitting carried through to the second period, when newly signed Senator Justin Falk absolutely leveled veteran Shark Joe Thornton. Falk then immediately accepted a fight challenge from Jumbo Joe’s teammate, Marcus Sorensen, who came to the 39-year-old’s defense.
The Senators signed the 30-year-old Falk on Friday to a one-year, two-way contract worth $650,000 this season. Overall, Falk’s physical presence was well noticed and had an impact on the game. Afterward, Boucher had this to say about Falk:
“Honestly, I think it’s the best I’ve ever seen in all my years of one player coming in with nothing. No practice, just a few minutes of talking, getting on the ice… right away, he did everything right. Gets in there, gets the big hit, gets the fight after, shows that he’s present and contributing already”.
Before the Falk-Sorensen fight, the game was scoreless. Afterward, however, the floodgates opened to a tsunami wave of scoring in both the second and third periods, which had four goals each.
On this play, Chabot registered his 30th point of the season and the first of two assists this game. The 21-year-old defenseman is the second Senator, after Duchene, to break 30 points this season after only 27 games played. He would conclude the match as the game’s third star.
If there was a spoiler to take away the headlines from Karlsson’s return, however, it was Boedker. The 28-year-old wreaked havoc on his former team, registering the game-winning goal and three assists. His stellar performance earned him the game’s first star.
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Harpur’s First NHL Goal
Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario native Ben Harpur also scored his first NHL goal in this game. Showing off his offensive skill on the play, the 23-year-old jumped into the rush, kicking a Zack Smith pass to up to his stick, before sniping on Martin Jones with a hard wrist shot. The goal was an important go-ahead marker that broke a 1-1 tie in the second period. During his celebration with teammates, Harpur couldn’t wear a bigger smile if he tried. Known more for his defensive play, it took him 60 games to get his name in the goal column.
The Andy Show
While the Sens offence did their jobs in the scoring department, Anderson did a fine job securing the Ottawa crease. The 37-year-old stopped 36 of 38 shots from the offence heavy Sharks, and made some huge, timely saves, including on back to back shots from his former teammate, Karlsson, and Dillon. After these saves, the fans loudly chanted “Andy, Andy, Andy” throughout the building. The Ottawa faithful showed much appreciation for their beloved goaltender, who earned the second star of the game.
- Ahead of the game, Duchene was awarded the Senators’ Molson Cup for the best player performance on the team in November. In 15 games, the 27-year-old recorded an impressive 22 points, including eight goals, 14 assists. Duchene is currently tied for sixth in the NHL point race.
- Also before the game, the Senators honoured Linesman Derek Nansen, #70, for his 1,000th NHL game.
- Max Lajoie was scratched for the first time this season. He is considered day-to-day.
- Magnus Paajarvi has now scored in back-to-back games and has recorded three points (2G, 1A) in his last two games. The former 2009 first-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers is slowly starting to show some signs of offense.
Official 3 Stars of the Game
- Mikkel Boedker, Ottawa (1G, 3A, including the Game Winning Goal)
- Craig Anderson, Ottawa (2.01 GAA, .947 SV%)
- Thomas Chabot, Ottawa (2A, 5 Blocks)
|2||Ottawa||1-0||7:30||Ryan Dzingel (11)||Mikkel Boedker (11), Thomas Chabot (23)|
|2||San Jose [PPG]||1-1||9:49||Joe Thornton (4)||Joe Pavelski (5), Brent Burns (24)|
|2||Ottawa||2-1||12:56||Ben Harpur (1)||Zack Smith (7), Magnus Paajarvi (1)|
|2||Ottawa||3-1||13:45||Mikkel Boedker (3)||Chris Tierney (16), Bobby Ryan (12)|
|3||Ottawa [PPG]||4-1||4:03||Mark Stone (12)||Mikkel Boedker (12), Thomas Chabot (24)|
|3||Ottawa||5-1 [EN]||14:52||Magnus Paajarvi (3)||Zack Smith (8)|
|3||San Jose||5-2||18:00||Barclay Goodrow (3)||Brenden Dillon (4), Joakim Ryan (4)|
|3||Ottawa||6-2||19:01||Bobby Ryan (6)||Cody Ceci (4), Mikkel Boedker (13)|
Cover Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand / The Canadian Press
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.