In J.G. Pageau’s return to Ottawa, the Senators were able to spoil his fun.
Despite not leading until near the end of the second period, four separate scorers propelled the home team to a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Craig Anderson stopped 37 of 40 shots, Brady Tkachuk scored the game winner, and Pageau was held off the scoresheet in his homecoming.
The Islanders opened the scoring 3:58 in, on an early powerplay. Bobby Ryan was called for a questionable trip, and Jordan Eberle found Isles captain Anders Lee wide open in front, to make it 1-0.
It wasn’t long after that the Sens gave the returning Pageau his much-anticipated video tribute.
Welcome back, Pager! pic.twitter.com/sM2zpFVzMf— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 6, 2020
While I’m long-past sick of these, it’s always an emotional and heartwarming affair. Pageau will hold a special place in the hearts of Ottawa fans forever.
The Senators got the answering goal almost exactly ten minutes later, when Nikita Zaitsev’s point shot took a bounce off of Scott Mayfield, and Connor Brown was right there at the side of the net to help the puck over the line.
Brown knocks home the equalizer.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 6, 2020
GOAL: Brown (16)
ASSIST: Zaitsev (11) pic.twitter.com/hXTW4UfOqY
The Islanders ramped up the attack to start the second period, and once again scored a quick goal to take the lead. This time, it was Matt Barzal skating the puck into the Ottawa zone, and firing a bullet of a shot past Craig Anderson, to put his team back on top.
But, as was the theme for tonight’s contest, the Sens stayed in the fight, and got it back. While killing yet another penalty, Chris Tierney made a sweet little pass to Mikkel Boedker, and he let go a backhander that beat Semyon Varlamov up high to tie the game again.
Backhander on the PK and we're tied again.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 6, 2020
GOAL: Boedker (2) SHG
ASSIST: Tierney (26) pic.twitter.com/Mo7r9l86z1
The goal was Ottawa’s league-leading(!) 15th shorty of the season.
While the Islanders rallied after Boedker’s marker, Ottawa took their first lead of the night, and it couldn’t have come from a better guy. At 14:26, Anthony Duclair absolutely walked J.G. Pageau, and roofed the puck with a simply disgusting shot, giving the Sens their first lead of the evening.
Filthy.— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 6, 2020
GOAL: Duclair (23)
ASSISTS: Hawryluk (6), White (14) pic.twitter.com/BctIjlSrYR
He said in an intermission interview that he waited until Pageau put his stick down before moving the puck back to his forehand, showing some high-level hockey IQ to beat a former teammate.
Trailing for the first time in the game, the Islanders turned it up to 11, throwing everything they could at the Sens to tie the game, even leading the shots on goal totals 32-20 at one point. The tide turned, however, on a great shift by the Duclair-White-Ryan line. They were able to hem the Islanders in their zone, keeping up sustained pressure for nearly a minute and a half, on what was a powerplay-like effort.
When the next line rolled out, Ottawa doubled their lead.
Brady ALSO called shelf— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) March 6, 2020
That's his 20th of the season. Two shy of his 22 goal mark in his rookie season. #Sens leads 4-3 after Barzal adds another. pic.twitter.com/SBaiyZrlds
Brady. Tkachuk. What else can you say? A laser, top corner, to hit the 20-goal plateau for the second time in as many seasons. This kid is a stud.
The Isles made it 4-3 on a Ryan Pulock point shot with two minutes to go, but despite a late flurry, that was all she wrote for this one. Craig Anderson snaps a six-game skid, while the Islanders lose their fifth straight.
- Anthony Duclair had a resurgent evening. His goal was a beauty, and the first scored on an actual netminder in 26 games. He almost had another in the third, just missing a one-time opportunity shorthanded. Folks shouldn’t be worried about Duclair’s cold snap, he’ll be a 30, maybe even 40-goal scorer once the Sens surround him with some quality teammates.
- That Brady Tkachuk shot was unbelievable, and just the tip of the iceberg for the game that he had. Tkachuk drew two penalties, and could have had at least one more one goal. This kid is the captain, I will not be taking questions at this time.
- Pageau had a rough night in his return. -1, and a Corsi rating of 35.71%. I love Pager, but I’m glad he was on the wrong end of this one. Now, go win a Cup.
- Ron Hainsey quietly had what was likely his best game of the year. He blocked two shots, saved a few goals, and had an overall Corsi% of 60.47 in 28:24TOI. Given his role, Hainsey is at his best when you don’t really notice him, and that’s what we saw tonight.
- Craig Anderson wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Filip Gustavsson get an NHL start before Marcus Hogberg’s return. He’s earned it.
The Sens were in control for most of this one, despite some pockets off Islander resistance.
Surprisingly, Brady’s goal was the one that wasn’t right on top of Varlamov.
It’s a big game for the draft lottery, with Ottawa visiting the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Puck drop is slated for 7pmET.