Tkachuk intercepted a Nathan MacKinnon pass and raced down the ice on what may have been the longest breakaway by an Ottawa Senator in recent memory, beating Annunen who was making his NHL debut in relief of Jonas Johansson.
Tkachuk said postgame of his long breakaway, “I was hoping not to toe-pick there and get my getaway boots going a little bit.”
— NHL (@NHL) December 5, 2021
The win was the Senators’ second in a row against two of the league’s quality clubs in Carolina and Colorado after losing six straight.
“It was a good effort back-to-back against top teams. I think we’re trending in the right direction, I believe. We’ve made some great efforts, but I know we’ve got more. We’re going to learn from all those negative things that happen throughout a game, but we’re getting more and more confident each and every day. A lot of guys are stepping up to the plate and it’ll be a lot more fun,” added the Senators’ captain.
The club didn’t make it easy on themselves to earn the two points in either contest.
Despite being outshot 49-20 overall Thursday versus the Hurricanes, the Senators held a 2-0 lead thanks to netminder Anton Forsberg. The Canes rallied for two quick goals to tie prior to Josh Norris sliding the puck off a defender which held up as the game-winner which snapped their losing skid.
Saturday, the Senators built up a 5-2 lead in the second period, but the Avalanche chipped away to even the score with 1:20 remaining on a Devon Toews goal, prior to Tkachuk’s GWG.
Tkachuk explained how even a few days earlier, his club may not have come out on top in this situation.
“We had adversity at there at the very end. We’re able to handle that…I think that it’s important for us. i think the adversity we faced earlier in the season, we crumble under that pressure. When we crumble after a lead – we don’t want to give up that lead. But if we do at one point, I think we’ve found the confidence we can beat top teams in this league.”
So what occurred between the Senators 6-2 embarrassment on home ice at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday to a win the next night in Raleigh?
“We had a meeting in the morning when we got to Carolina. We just went over what our team is – what our identity is – and what we want to be known as. It was a little longer than most meetings, no video. We talked about ourselves. I think that it was imporant to get back to the basics to what we want to be known as. I think that was kind of it, right there. I think everybody wanted to put it on the line going forward.” said the 22-year old.
For Tkachuk personally, it’s been a great opening to the season stats-wise.
Notching seven goals, nine assists in 19 games, the St. Louis resident is on pace for 67 points. Despite missing the first three games of the campaign, Tkachuk should easily eclipse his career high 44 points.
Tkachuk who finished second league-wide in hits (248) last season, already ranks seventh with 81.
Another aspect of his game that’s gone unnoticed is Tkachuk’s faceoff success. The left-shot forward currently possesses a 59.6 per cent success rate. Tkachuk has never finished above 49 per cent in his previous three seasons.
Most of all, Tkachuk and his mates want to leave their poor start behind them.
“The first 20 (games) wasn’t the start that we wanted. We wanted to put that all behind us and start fresh the second quarter of the season. We want to put all the negatives behind us – learn from it, but really focus on the next stretch of games coming up. It’s not just a couple of guys, it’s everybody.”
The team is certainly off to the right foot, especially in the early days of December. Their four points (2-1-0) achieved in three games thus far, has already surpassed their 1-10-1 mark (three points) posted in November.
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