Senators' comeback effort falls short as Golden Knights take 5-4 victory

OTTAWA — Although moral victories don't appear in the win column, the Ottawa Senators seemed to have taken one in finding their desired identity and level of play.

Despite a valiant comeback effort, the Senators fell 5-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night. Ottawa trailed 5-1 at the midway mark of the second period before finding its way back and just falling short of tying the game up late.

“If you play like the way we played in the second and third period you’re going to win a lot of games,” said Senators head coach D.J. Smith. “There’s no such thing as moral victories in sports, but you get that effort from the guys that we got tonight and you’ll start winning a lot of hockey games.”

“That’s the identity we want to play with, is the second and third there,” added Ottawa captain Brady Tkachuk, who had two assists. “Unfortunately, we just got down too much where we couldn’t come back from. That second and third period I think is some of the best hockey we played all year … there’s a lot of positives to take from tonight.”

The Senators (4-6-0) are now on a four-game losing streak while the Knights' (10-2-0) victory makes it six in a row for them.

Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, Zach Whitecloud, Chandler Stephenson and William Carrier each scored for Vegas. Logan Thompson made 42 saves for the Knights.

Claude Giroux and Tim Stutzle both recorded a pair of goals for Ottawa. Anton Forsberg allowed all five goals on 19 shots before Cam Talbot, making his season and Senators debut, came in and made 13 saves.

“We just let them off the hook,” said Stone. “I think we just kind of thought the game was over. We started trying to make plays, and if you look at the goals we’re scoring, we’re getting on the forecheck, making them make turnovers, and then we fell into that trap and started doing it to ourselves.

“You definitely want to learn from it. That was not a perfect game from us by any means.”

Stone opened the scoring against his former team just 1:22 into the game, picking up a loose puck in front and scoring.

Under three minutes later, Giroux had a fortunate bounce work in his favour.

Looking to go off on a line change, Giroux shot the puck from just over centre ice and scored as the bounce of the puck fooled Thompson.

“I’ve probably tried that over 500 times in my career and it never went in,” said Giroux. “When it went in, it was overdue. I get pretty excited when I see a goal like that.”

Smith added a power-play goal at the midway mark of the period. With just 31.6 seconds remaining in the first, Stone made a cross-crease pass to Whitecloud for his first of the season to give Vegas a 3-1 lead.

Stephenson’s short-handed goal made it 4-1 for the Knights just over five minutes into the second. A few minutes later, a brutal giveaway by Alex DeBrincat allowed Carrier to walk in alone on Forsberg and beat him through the legs.

That marked the end of Forsberg’s night.

However, the Senators managed to pull within two by the end of the period.

As the power play was expiring, Jake Sanderson made a cross-ice pass to Giroux who made it 5-2 with his second of the night at 14:23.

With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Thompson thought he had stopped a Tkachuk shot, but the puck trickled through his pads and Stutzle pushed it over the goal line for his second of the season.

Ottawa made it a one-goal game 2:34 into the third when Stutzle took advantage of a Knights turnover and played a give-and-go with Tkachuk before scoring his second of the night.

Vegas had an opportunity to pad its lead on a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 59 seconds, but Talbot made two huge saves for the Senators.

“That was a big point in the game,” Talbot said of the two-man advantage. “At that point not a lot of action so far and I just went out there and battled with the three guys in front of me. So that’s all you can really do when the power play is snapping like that — is just stay patient as possible and throw your body in front of it when you can.”

INTERESTING FACT OR STAT

Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg has faced the most shots in the NHL (276) going into Thursday’s game and has also made the most saves (251). Forsberg has played in nine of Ottawa’s 10 games.

NOTES: Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot, who was dealing with a rib injury, served as the backup goaltender for the first time this season. Shane Pinto was moved to the top line to centre Brady Tkachuk and Drake Batherson.

UP NEXT

The Senators host the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night, while the Vegas Golden Knights will head to Montreal to take on the Canadiens Saturday afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2022.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press