On Wednesday night, the Ottawa Senators closed out their season exactly the way they started it, with a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead of embarking on a miserable nine game losing streak — as they did after their opening night win — the Senators walk off with renewed hope and maybe even a little regret for what might have been.
At the NHL trade deadline April 12th, things just clicked into place for the Sens as they closed out the final month with a remarkable 10-3-1 record. Finishing just eight points out of a playoff spot, the players and fans have every right to daydream about the potential playoff damage the club might have caused had they not had such a poor start.
But the season was packed with great moments to carry us through the summer. And here are ten of the best.
Back in Black: The Senators return to their roots, unveiling the new uniforms that so many fans had been clamouring for, which included the 2D centurion logo they wore in their early days.
Thank You, Alex: Just a month before his passing, legendary Jeopardy host Alex Trebek helped the Senators usher in the Tim Stutzle era, making the selection on the club’s behalf. A draft selection that will never be forgotten, for a lot of reasons.
Something for Joey: Rookie goalie Joey Daccord gets his first NHL victory in March, surprisingly getting into a game when struggling starter Matt Murray was hurt in the warmup. Daccord’s performance was excellent. His post-game interview with Sportsnet was even better.
"I don't even have words right now. I just want to thank my family for everything they've done for me – It's pretty special."
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 15, 2021
You Always Remember Your First: In just his second NHL game, back in January, Stutzle gets his first NHL goal. Thomas Chabot flicked the puck about 40 feet in the air as the rookie camped under it like a centrefielder. With absolutely sublime timing, Stutzle one-timed it past Leaf goalie Jack Campbell.
Tkachuk Stepping Up: Brady Tkachuk takes on all comers, but even his biggest fans paused for a moment, concerned he’d bitten off more than he could chew when he dropped the gloves with Montreal captain Shea Weber last month. Weber is a load, but the kid fared just fine.
The Tkachuk and Stutzle Bromance: The team chemistry has been obvious all season, but these two in particular had numerous great moments. We’re choosing the aftermath of Tkachuk’s fight with Montreal’s Ben Chiarot, who had been taking liberties with Stutzle. Tkachuk tuned up Chiarot in a big way and, afterward, the muffled laughter between Stutzle and Tkachuk was priceless.
Norris’ Walk Off Shot: Norris will likely earn a Calder trophy nomination for NHL rookie of the year. He finished off an incredible final month for the Senators, leaving everyone feeling good going into the summer, with this overtime goal in the final game.
JOSH NORRIS SENDS THE SENS HOME HAPPY! #GoSensGo
Ottawa ends their season with an overtime win in the Battle of Ontario. I have chills. Gorgeous pass by Marner to Tkachuk. pic.twitter.com/LCLu3r3Lja
— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) May 13, 2021
Stutzle Against the World: Even before his debut as an Ottawa Senator, Stutzle had fans buzzing at the World Junior Hockey Championship. He had 10 points in 5 games for Germany, including this beauty.
It Was 5-1/Go Daddy: Back in February, the Senators were 3-12-1, looking dead in the water in a game against Toronto. The Sens trailed the Leafs 5-1, late in the second period. About an hour later, Evgenii Dadonov scored the equalizer and then the overtime goal, capping off one of the finest (and most shocking) comebacks in Senators’ history.
Best Hat Trick Celebration Ever: When Stutzle got his first NHL hat trick, there were no fans in the building to throw hats on the ice in celebration — the pandemic saw to that. The following day, the neighbourhood kids masked up and gathered outside the home Stutzle shares with Tkachuk and Norris and hit him with a fantastic surprise.
When you score your first NHL hat trick with no fans in the stands, the local kids make sure it gets all the recognition it deserves. #GoSensGo #Senators #JimmyStu #Sens @BradyTkachuk71 @joshnorris10 @Senators pic.twitter.com/OkC8JrRGCo
— Andy Morrisey (@andymorrisey) May 10, 2021
By Steve Warne