Athanasiou, Kane lead Blackhawks to 4-3 OT win over Senators
OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators know they let two points slip away from them.
Andreas Athanasiou capped the Chicago Blackhawks' comeback with the game-winning goal 2:52 into overtime to defeat the Senators 4-3 Friday. It was a disappointing ending to a night that started with celebrations to honour Chris Neil’s number 25 being raised to the rafters.
“We just made too many turnovers to finish off the game,” said Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk. “It can’t happen, especially on a night like tonight where we’re honouring a Sens legend, a legend in this community.
Patrick Kane scored twice, including the game-tying marker, for Chicago (17-32-5) to send the contest to extra time. Sam Lafferty also scored for the Blackhawks, who snapped a three-game skid.
Petr Mrazek stopped 28 shots.
Tkachuk, Claude Giroux and Shane Pinto each scored for Ottawa (26-24-4), while Mads Sogaard made 28 saves. The Senators had won six of their last seven coming into the game.
“I think we’re just frustrated right now,” said Giroux. “Any time you have a 3-1 lead, you want to be a team that knows how to shut teams down.”
After entering the third period tied 1-1, the Senators put away two early goals to take control of the game.
Giroux capitalized on a pass from Alex DeBrincat, a former Blackhawk, and beat Mrazek off his backhand 2:11 into the frame. Just over two minutes later, Tkachuk padded Ottawa's lead.
But the Blackhawks fought back. Lafferty took advantage of a puck bouncing past Thomas Chabot and broke in alone to beat Sogaard for a short-handed goal 10:49 into the period.
With 3:05 remaining, Kane scored his second of the night to tie it. The goal was Kane’s 1,217th career point, giving him the third most points among U.S.-born players.
“(I was) just kind of reading what the defenceman was doing,” said Kane. “He looked like he was kind of playing the middle, didn’t really come over at me at the start and then he slipped at the end and I thought I had a good chance to shoot and picked my corner.”
Sogaard took much of the responsibility for the loss.
“It’s pretty obvious if you give (Kane) just a little bit of room he’s going to capitalize,” he said. “You’re going to see that in this league.
"There’s great players on every team and his skill set is obviously at the top of the league, but that’s short side and that’s my responsibility and I’ve got to do a better job.”
Senators head coach D.J. Smith, meanwhile, was visibly frustrated post-game.
“We had three grade “A” looks (in overtime) … but it shouldn’t get there, that’s what it really comes down to,” he said. “It’s the NHL and if you lay off the gas just for a second that’s what happens.”
The win allowed the Blackhawks to salvage a disappointing road trip that saw them go 0-3-0 before Friday.
“Give our team a lot of credit,” said Chicago head coach Luke Richardson. “We have guts and we played hard right until the end. (Our players) really pushed to tie that game up and I’m really glad they persevered and got the win.”
The Blackhawks opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the game when Max Domi fed a wide-open Kane, who roofed it over Sogaard’s shoulder. Kane has a 12-game point streak against the Senators (nine goals, 20 assists) dating back to Dec. 2015.
Derick Brassard sent a point shot that went off Pinto to make it 1-1 7:31 into the second period.
INTERESTING FACT OR STAT
The Senators raised Neil’s jersey to the rafters before the game. Neil played 1,026 games across 15 seasons with Ottawa. The 43-year-old is one of only two players in NHL history to play over 1,000 games and compile over 2,500 penalty minutes while playing his entire career for one team.
A number of former teammates were on hand, including Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips, who are the only other two former Senators to have their number retired. Richardson, a former teammate and coach of Neil’s, stood to watch the ceremony.
Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot skated for the first time since he got injured on Jan. 25, but there is no timetable for his return. Austin Watson missed the game due to illness.
The Senators are back in action Sunday afternoon when they take on the St. Louis Blues, while the Blackhawks will return home and host the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday night.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2023.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press