OTTAWA – Brady Tkachuk started his day by fulfilling a seven-year-old boy’s wish, but in the end, the youngster proved to be the good luck charm the Ottawa Senators needed.
Tkachuk scored 25 seconds into overtime to lead the Senators to a 5-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night, snapping a two-game losing streak.
“I had a blast today just to meet him and meet his sister Lily,” said Tkachuk of the interaction with Daniel Maloney, a Make-A-Wish recipient who’s a Senators fan.
“To see how much fun he had in the morning and see him buzz around there for warm-ups and get that goal at the end was amazing and put a smile on all our faces. I feel like he’s the reason we won tonight.”
The four power-play goals the Senators scored might have also played a part.
Wednesday night marked the first time since 2005 that a Senators team scored four power-play goals in a game and they were clearly the difference.
“It’s pretty tough to assess a game like that when half of the game is special teams,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “There was no flow to it, there was no 5-on-5. It was ridiculous.
“Let’s just say I question a fair amount of the calls.”
Ottawa’s power play has sputtered lately despite flashing excellence at times this season.
“I think they were a little quicker tonight,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “I think of late we’ve been a little bit slow.
“I think we were too deliberate and then when you score one early it just seems to go a little bit better and we’ve got good players.”
Alex DeBrincat, Tim Stutzle, Drake Batherson and Shane Pinto also scored for Ottawa (20-21-3), which went 4-for-9 with the man advantage.
Tkachuk added three assists and Cam Talbot stopped 15 shots.
Despite not having the best of nights, there were no fingers pointed Talbot’s way.
“He’s been unreal for us whenever he’s been in the cage,” said Tkachuk. “I mean, the first one it was tipped off my stick and completely messed him up so I should have blocked it or something.
“He’s been great for us … he made the save when we needed him to.”
Jason Zucker, Evgeni Malkin, Mark Friedman and Rickard Rakell responded for the Penguins (22-15-7). Casey DeSmith made 35 saves.
DeSmith credited the Senators for the challenges they presented in front of him.
“They’re a great net-front team, a lot of big bodies and they’re hungry,” he said. “They go to the front of the net.
“They did a good job with that. They got a lot of pucks tipped, deflections, stuff like that.”
Tied 3-3 in the third period, the Senators scored their fourth power-play goal at 10:58 when Pinto beat DeSmith with a wrist shot.
It was Pinto’s first goal in 15 games which came with a sigh of relief afterwards.
“It’s been a little bit for me so just to get the monkey off my back is nice, so I’m pretty happy,” admitted Pinto.
Under two minutes later, Rakell replied for the Penguins with a power-play marker of his own to eventually send the game to overtime.
Tkachuk sent a backhand pass in front for Batherson, who knotted the contest at 3-3 9:19 into the second period.
Pittsburgh regained its lead at 3:07 of the middle frame when Friedman beat Talbot with a long-range shot.
Malkin tied the game at 2-2 when he jammed home a rebound from a Ty Smith point shot 15:23 into the opening frame.
Earlier in the period, Ottawa made the most of a double minor penalty against Jeff Carter, scoring twice on the four-minute power play.
Stutzle skated around Crosby and scored his 20th of the season at 9:44.
DeBrincat tied the game two minutes prior on a feed from Batherson.
Talbot got a piece of Marcus Pettersson’s shot, but the puck fell behind him and Zucker tucked it in to open the scoring 6:36 into the first.
INTERESTING FACT OR STAT
Sidney Crosby entered Wednesday’s game one point shy of having his 16th 50th-point campaign. He picked up an assist on the Penguins’ second goal giving him sole possession of second for most 50-point seasons among all active players.
Josh Norris returned to the Senators lineup after missing 38 games with a shoulder injury. It marked his first time back in the lineup since Oct. 22. … Mathieu Joseph, who missed 17 games with a lower-body injury, was a healthy scratch. Joseph’s brother, Pierre-Olivier, plays for the Penguins and expected more than 50 friends and family to be in attendance. … Ottawa announced it sent forward Jacob Lucchini to Belleville of the American Hockey League.
The Senators head to Pittsburgh where the two teams will play the back half of their home-and-home series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2023.