It was quite the 24 hours between 3 pm ET Friday practice and game-time Saturday for the Ottawa Senators.
First, there was concern for Matt Murray. The goaltender was injured late in the second period Thursday after defenseman Nikita Zaitsev collided with him prior to Winnipeg Jets’ Blake Wheeler’s power play marker. Deemed out with an upper-body injury, Murray was replaced by struggling netminder Marcus Hogberg for the final period of an eventual 5-1 loss.
Hogberg allowed two goals in his 20 minutes of work and left the game with a lofty 4.88 goals-against average, subpar .836 save percentage to coincide with a 0-5-0 record on the season.
The 26-year old spoke about his season to date post-practice, “It’s been tough. Some goals I want to have back. At the same time, I have to take a breath and believe in myself. I know I can play and focus.”
Hogberg admitted he’d been playing “overly aggressive” and said he had a good chat with Senators’ goalie coach Pierre Groulx.
Senators’ practice Friday also saw the re-insertion into the lineup of left wing Cedric Paquette. After being a healthy scratch in four straight games, Paquette was skating on a regular line in place of Alex Galchenyuk.
Head coach D.J. Smith thought it was time for the 27-year old to re-enter the lineup, “He’s been very patient. He came to me and said “I understand the team is play much better,” and all he did was work. Never complained, he’s been a true pro. He’ll come in and give us, good solid hockey.”
To facilitate Paquette’s entry, the club shifted forward Artem Anisimov to the taxi squad Saturday morning. Anisimov cleared waivers Friday.
However, just one hour before the start of the Senators/Jets Hockey Day in Canada matchup, news broke the team had re-acquired forward Ryan Dzingel in a swap with the Carolina Hurricanes. Next thing we saw was video of Paquette speaking on a cell phone leaving MTS Place. Paquette was dealt to the Canes along with Galchenyuk, the player he was set to replace in the Senators’ lineup.
In a subsequent move, Anisimov returned to the main roster and dressed for the game. Anisimov’s four-hour stint on the club’s taxi squad may have been the shortest in the NHL.
A 2011 seventh-round pick out of Ohio State, the Senators know what they’re getting in Dzingel. The speedy winger compiled 126 points (62 goals, 64 assists) in 247 regular season games previously with the team. In his final two campaigns, the Wheaton, Illinois native posted back-to-back 20-plus goal years, which included a career-high 26. Dzingel netted four with the Columbus Blue Jackets after being traded at the 2019 deadline in exchange for Anthony Duclair, 2020 and 2021 second-round selections.
The Senators since swapped the 2020 second-rounder to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Murray.
A potential unrestricted free agent, Dzingel has notched two goals, two assists in 11 games with Carolina to date this season. However, due to Canada’s 14-day mandated quarantine, Senators’ fans will have to wait until March 1 at the earliest to view the soon-to-be 29-year old’s return.
Finally, the game itself – the Senators pulled out a stunning 2-1 victory over the Jets with Brady Tkachuk deflecting Mike Reilly’s point shot with 8.2 seconds remaining.
— NHL (@NHL) February 13, 2021
Jets’ Mark Scheifele opened the scoring 5:43 into the second period. Senators’ Evgenii Dadonov tied it at one, scoring his third goal in four games only 1:46 later – redirecting Colin White’s nifty feed off a backhand.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) February 13, 2021
Hogberg made 30 saves for the first road win of his young NHL career. It was a bit of redemption of sorts for the Swede, and easily his best performance of the young season.
“I felt good yesterday in the practice. I took it into the game today and focused one puck at a time. A couple of games, I felt like my shoulders were pretty tight. I think I was just too aggressive and wanted to play good. But when I just relax and focus on what I can do out there, just tried to stay in the moment and stay calm,” said the Senators’ backstop.
The team’s defensive effort may have been it’s best in their 16 games played.
“We talked about it. Things aren’t going to always go right. We have to learn to be patient and not force the game. And we didn’t do that today,” Smith explained postgame. “We hung around long enough, got a couple of bounces. We talked about bounces, we haven’t got. To me, it was a great team win, and everyone was a part of it.”
Next up, the Senators travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs for three games in four nights starting Monday.
The status of Murray should be cleared up by then. The Senators may also swap out Filip Gustavsson for Joey Daccord as their third goalie. Belleville plays in Montreal Tuesday, and it would be beneficial for Gustavsson to get a game in. If not Daccord will play, with “Gus” heading to Montreal to get some game action Friday when the BSens face the Laval Rocket once again.
After dealing left wings Galchenyuk and Paquette, the Senators have only 12 forwards on the active roster with Micheal Haley and Matthew Peca sitting on its taxi squad.
Smith may elect to ice an identical roster Monday versus the Leafs. However, the possibility of recalling Alex Formenton from the American League to skate on the left side remains high for the week ahead.