Dylan Ferguson Steals the Show in 2-1 Win over the Pittsburgh Penguins

Dylan Ferguson’s first career start was magical as he stopped 47 shots to defeat the Penguins

If you turned on the TV tonight and said “wait, who??”, I don’t blame you. The goaltender Dylan Ferguson was a 7th-round pick in 2017 by the Vegas Golden Knights, and he was acquired from the Toronto Marlies on February 24th for future considerations. He was a necessary goalie to acquire for the Belleville Senators while Mads Søgaard and Kevin Mandolese were up in the NHL. And after just six games in Belleville, Ferguson was the starting goaltender for the Ottawa Senators tonight, making his first career start.

It’s not as if the Senators had any real playoff hopes left before this game, but they were coming into Pittsburgh riding a five-game losing streak, so there was at least some pressure on Ferguson. Furthermore, if there’s any team besides the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens to play spoiler against, the most fun would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Senators didn’t exactly make things easy for Ferguson in the early going, as he stopped 12/12 shots just ten minutes into the game—a 72-shot pace. By the end of the period, Pittsburgh had a whopping 19 shots, including one powerplay, but they couldn’t solve the rookie Ferguson. At the other end, Claude Giroux and Thomas Chabot were able to connect on a nifty goal from Chabot:

It was exactly the kind of offensive confidence we like to see from Chabot, and his execution was flawless. So with 3:14 left in the period, Ottawa made it 1-0, and they had the lead after the period ended despite being outshot 19-8.

The Penguins got the next powerplay a few minutes in as the Senators played the puck with six skaters on the ice. Pittsburgh didn’t really look too dangerous though, and the next few glorious chances came from Ottawa. Tim Stützle missed an open net on a two-on-ice with Brady Tkachuk, then Tkachuk had a breakaway thanks to a Jake Sanderson stretch pass but he couldn’t put it five-hole past Tristan Jarry.

Although Ottawa had some prime chances (including a post from Stützle), the Penguins were dominating the first two periods. Ferguson continued to stand on his head, and there was even a point where Artem Zub had a shift that was 4:39 total because they couldn’t get the puck out. Yes, you read that right: 4:39. I can’t remember ever seeing a player as tired as he was at the end of that shift. The Senators withstood the attack though, and they even had a chance to score on their first powerplay of the game but nothing would come of it. Somehow, Ferguson had stopped all 30 shots through two periods, and Ottawa had the 1-0 lead heading into the final frame.

And wouldn’t you know it? The Penguins continued to press with everything they had. Jake Sanderson went to the penalty box halfway through the period for a weak interference call on Sidney Crosby, but Ferguson and the Senators were up to the task yet again. Minutes prior to that, Alex DeBrincat’s shot misfired and scarily hit Ridly Greig in the helmet:

Thankfully, he returned to the ice later in the period.

Although a shutout for Ferguson would’ve been an incredible story, Rickard Rakell was the one to ruin it. Thomas Chabot and Erik Brännström couldn’t pick up Rakell at the front of the net, and his shot barely squeaked past Ferguson on the short side, tying up the game. You could see how frustrated he was because it was a stoppable shot. With over five minutes left, it was tied 1-1:

The Penguins then gave the Senators a golden opportunity, as Greig drew a hooking penalty on Chad Ruhwedel. Ottawa would make no mistake, as it seemed like only a matter of time before they scored. Tkachuk made a perfect pass to Drake Batherson, who barely deflected it in the crease past Jarry to give the Senators the 2-1 lead with over two minutes to play:

It was an excellent example of their great powerplay bailing them out last minute. The Penguins pushed very hard for the final two minutes, and it was easy to imagine them tying it once again. However, Ferguson was once again there to save the day, giving the Senators the 2-1 win, which was also Ferguson’s first career NHL win.

Ottawa’s record is now 34-31-5 after snapping their five-game losing streak.

Notable Performances:

  • Ferguson stopped 47 of 48 shots, which was incredibly impressive for somebody’s first career start. He’s a 24-year-old who has bounced around the minors, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it was fantastic to see how well he played on such a big night for him. I love seeing things like that.
  • Pittsburgh had won 11 straight home games against Ottawa, which mercifully ended tonight. The Senators last regulation win in Pittsburgh was in January 2012. Yikes.
  • The Penguins outshot the Senators 49-21 and the 5v5 shot attempts were 78-41, so essentially a reverse of what happened on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Chabot had ten total shot attempts and a goal. It’s easy to forget, but he brings a lot offensively to this team.
  • Not a single Senators skater was above 50 CF%. The closest was Giroux at 48.39%, and the worst was Dylan Gambrell at just 8.70%. Two stolen points, much?
  • I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin be so invisible against Ottawa before. I loved it./

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