The Ottawa Senators have officially moved on.
Erik Karlsson may be the highest-scoring defenseman in Ottawa Senators history, but his former team managed to keep him off the scoresheet in his much-anticipated return to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.
The Senators’ former captain was honoured with a touching tribute during a stoppage in play midway through the first period that had the Canadian Tire Centre faithful the loudest it has been all season. He also received an ovation during a rookie lap just prior to warmups.
All love was lost once the puck dropped, however, and the Sens used the raucous crowd to propel them to a 6-2 victory.
Mikkel Boedker, who was also facing his former team for the first time since being dealt in a trade for Mike Hoffman in the offseason, had a goal and three assists while Craig Anderson made 36 saves for the win. Magnus Paajarvi added an empty-netter.
Joe Thornton and Barclay Goodrow scored for San Jose and Martin Jones made 21 saves.
Although the narrative has been about Karlsson leading up to this game, Senators head coach Guy Boucher said it was a non-issue in the dressing room.
“We didn’t make it a big story, never even talked about it,” Boucher told reporters after the game. “I did not mention it once. That’s outside stuff. Our job is to focus on what we need to do on the ice and focus on how the opponent plays.”
Just a minute after Goodrow scored to make it 5-2 late in the third period, Bobby Ryan tipped in a Cody Ceci point shot to make it 6-2.
Mark Stone fired a powerplay goal past Sharks goalie Martin Jones on a 3-on-1 to make it 4-1 just under five minutes into the third.
Boedker buried a breakaway through the legs of Jones to make it 3-1 just a minute after Ben Harpur sniped his first NHL goal from the left wing.
On a Sharks powerplay, Thornton tied the game on a pretty tic-tac-toe play. Brent Burns made a cross-ice pass from the point down to Joe Pavelski at the corner of the net, who passed it across to Thornton for the tap in.
Newly-signed Justin Falk made an impression in his first game as a Senator, laying a big hit on Thornton and then answering to Antti Suomela.
Falk arrived in Ottawa at 1 a.m. and Boucher had high praise for how quickly he adjusted.
“We have some particular things that we do defensively that might be hard to get accustomed to and right away he did everything right,” said Boucher. “I think that’s probably the best I’ve seen in all my years of somebody coming in with no time to adjust, so that says a lot about him.”
Ryan Dzingel opened the scoring for the Senators seven and a half minutes into the second period off a pass from Thomas Chabot. Just moments later, Pavelski was left all alone in front of the Senators net, forcing Anderson to come up with a couple big saves.
Prior to the game, linesman Derek Nansen was honored for calling his 1000th game. Both teams gifted him with a signed jersey and presented it to him and his family.
The Senators have now won three straight and head to Montreal for the first game of a home-and-home against the Canadiens.