Going into tonight, Bobby Ryan had one goal on the season, coming on opening night of the season in Toronto.
He left with three more, and having led the Ottawa Senators to one of their most meaningful wins in franchise history. Not meaningful in terms of standings, or milestones, or records, but something much more personal.
In his first game back in Ottawa after being gone for nearly three months to address his struggles with alcohol abuse, Ryan scored his fifth career hat trick, and propelled the Sens to a 5-2 victory of the Vancouver Canucks.
Your first star of the game... pic.twitter.com/byojqArRbG— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2020
Seriously, this one was an all-timer.
Ottawa got on the board first, 7:13 into the contest. Connor Brown took a feed in the neutral zone from Chris Tierney, skated the puck into the Vancouver end, and fired a quick shot past Thatcher Demko to open the scoring.
Brown starts the scoring against the Canucks.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2020
GOAL: Brown (14)
ASSIST: Tierney (22) pic.twitter.com/NhpMw7rbQ4
The magic began a little over 30 seconds later, when Nikita Zaitsev took a perfect shot along the ice, and Bobby Ryan deflected it top shelf for an emotional goal, making it 2-0 Sens.
You absolutely love to see it.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2020
GOAL: Ryan (2)
ASSIST: Zaitsev (9) pic.twitter.com/e3UvesprGO
Since he obviously didn’t do enough, Bobby followed that up with a tilt against Christopher Tanev at the end of the first frame.
BOBBY RYAN GORDIE HOWE COMEBACK GAME????? pic.twitter.com/f3wXQyCxtP— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) February 28, 2020
Vancouver had a bit of a resurgence in the second. Down 2-0, they used some powerplay opportunities to swing momentum in their favour. Marcus Hogberg stood tall, though, preserving his squad’s two-goal advantage. Taking a lead in the shots on goal department, the Canucks would finally be rewarded with 16 seconds to go before the intermission, with J.T. Miller cutting the lead in half on a powerplay point shot.
But, as you know by now, this night belonged to to the Ottawa Senators.
Right off the puck drop to start the third period, Rudy Balcers slapped a Chris Tierney rebound past Demko for his first of the season, making it 3-1.
Balcers buries his first of the season to restore the two goal lead.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 28, 2020
GOAL: Balcers (1)
ASSISTS: Tierney (23), Brown (26) pic.twitter.com/l1El67gMrW
With the game slipping away, Tyler Toffoli got one back for the Canucks at the 8:16 mark, but again, there could be only one result tonight.
I’ll let the clip speak for itself.
Bobby Ryan just scored a hat in his first game back, over 100 days, since entering the NHL Player Assistance Program for alcoholism. How could you not love sports? pic.twitter.com/XnCkODX7yl— Dalton Tripp (@dwtripp1) February 28, 2020
Tonight was right up there with Craig Anderson’s shutout of the Edmonton Oilers, and Clarke MacArthur’s series-clinching overtime winner against the Boston Bruins. An overwhelming night at the CTC.
Bobby Ryan fighting back tears on the bench after recording a hat trick in his return to Ottawa and receiving a massive ovation from the fans pic.twitter.com/lpVpDSh7J1— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 28, 2020
Bobby Ryan, welcome back. We’re all damn proud of you.
- What more can you say about Bobby Ryan? On a personal level, this one had me getting emotional while watching from my living room. It was his first hat trick since December 29th, 2014, second as an Ottawa Senator, and fifth all-time. Doubt any of them will top this, though.
- Josh Norris had another solid night in his second NHL game. No points, but two shots on goal, and a not-too-shabby-for-a-rookie Corsi % of 48.72, in 17:38mins of icetime. I like what I’ve seen from him so far, his speed transitions well to the pro game, and he has some obvious chemistry with Brady Tkachuk. Norris has a bright future.
- Marcus Hogberg was easily the game’s second star, making 32 of 34 saves, including some huge ones in the second period to keep his team in the driver’s seat. The truth is that Bobby Ryan’s incredible night would have never been possible without Hoggy’s stellar night. Shaan wrote a great piece earlier in the week about how he’s looking more and more like the goalie of the future, and games like these further that notion.
- Chris Tierney quietly tallied three assists, having one of his best nights of the season. Performances like these are especially encouraging in the absence of J.G. Pageau.
They faltered a bit in the second period, but the Sens controlled the majority of this game.
All Ottawa markers came to Thatcher Demko’s left, interestingly enough.
Up Next: Saturday night is a hugely important game for #TeamTank, with the last-placed Detroit Red Wings coming to town for a 7pmET puck drop.