OTTAWA — Drake Batherson wasn’t even sure he was going to play Saturday after a positive COVID-19 test Friday. It was lucky for the Ottawa Senators that he did.
Batherson had two goals and two assists as the Senators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3.
“I got in here and I was pretty excited for game day and I had 30 people in town and they were up in the box so I was super pumped to play in front of them,” Batherson said.
“Then I got the positive test and ran another one right after, negative.”
And that was that, as those 30 friends and family from back home got to see him play.
“All from back home, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton. People who had never seen me play before so it was great to have them up," said Batherson.
Zach Sanford, Michael Del Zotto, Parker Kelly and Tim Stutzle also scored for the Senators and helped end their four-game losing skid. Jacob Bernard-Docker and Lassi Thomson each picked up their first point in the NHL with assists.
Del Zotto also had an assist while Thomas Chabot had two helpers for the Senators (4-9-1). Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for the win.
Casey DeSmith was in goal for the Penguins (5-4-4) and turned aside 18 of the 23 shots he faced. Kasperi Kapanen and Evan Rodrigues, with two, scored for Pittsburgh.
Batherson scored at 9:40 of the third period to give the Senators a comfortable 5-0 lead, but Kapanen and Rodrigues scored at 11:49 and 12:55 respectively before Rodrigues scored again at 15:57 to make it 5-3.
Batherson put the game to bed with an empty net goal at 19:11.
“We started scoring goals and feeling good and we had it going real good in the third until they scored and I thought we made some immature plays in front of our net," Senators coach D.J. Smith said.
“When you haven’t won in a while it’s hard to close the game out.”
After the second Pittsburgh goal, Smith took a timeout to try and calm things down.
“'You played really well for 52 minutes and on two shifts the puck ends up in the back of your net,'" Smith told his players during the timeout.
"Told them to just take a breather."
The Senators broke the game open in the second period with fours goals including three in under six minutes.
“I think that second period is unacceptable, and it ultimately lost us the game,” Rodrigues said.
“Just no jam. We weren't playing heavy, we weren't hanging on to pucks. It got sloppy. It was a little bit of a track meet. It wasn't our type of hockey. That's not how we play.”
Sanford opened the scoring at 5:21 beating DeSmith on a rebound. Del Zotto scored his first of the season and first of two power-play goals of the period as he beat DeSmith with a point shot off the faceoff at 10:40.
Just 27 seconds later Kelly scored his first of the year to give the Senators a 3-0 lead. But the biggest goal came from Stutzle, with his first in 16 games dating back to a hat trick he scored May 8 against Winnipeg.
“I want to play my best every game and I wish I could score every game but that goal definitely helps with the pressure. But I just have to keep going and play my game,” Stutzle said.
A pass towards the front of the net was blocked but went directly to Stutzle who quickly beat DeSmith short side while on the power play.
The was no scoring in the first period although that wasn’t from lack of opportunities, especially for the Penguins.
Gustavsson stopped Jason Zucker on a breakaway and shortly after the Penguins had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:38, but not only did they not score, they managed just two shots on goal.
“That's a big, big part of the game, the 5-on-3 early. We're not able to convert there. Just a couple of opportunities out of it,” Penguins coach Todd Reirden said.
“On one, we missed the net. On one, we got a shot right off the faceoff but not nearly enough chances for in that situation.”
Notes: With several players in COVID-19 protocols, the Senators called up forward Andrew Agozzino and defencemen Jacob Bernard-Docker and Maxence Guenette. Scratches for the Senators were defenceman Nikita Zaitsev along with forwards Agozzino and Scott Sabourin… The Penguins were without forwards Sam Lafferty and Dominik Simon as well as goaltender Tristan Jarry.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2021.
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press