OTTAWA - Marcus Hogberg isn’t sure he belongs in the NHL, but he might be the only one uncertain of his status.
Hogberg was at his finest Saturday making 40 saves in the Ottawa Senators' 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
The Senators (17-23-8) were outshot 42-21 and if not for Hogberg’s performance, they would have likely seen a different outcome. This marked the 25-year-old’s second NHL win in 13 career starts.
Hogberg has a 1-2-5 record this season, but his record is hardly indicative of his play.
“He’s got points in four straight (games),” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “He gave us every chance to win those other three games and he was really good again tonight. It’s good for our team and our organization to have a young guy that’s playing at this level.”
Hogberg has seen substantial playing time as Anders Nilsson remains sidelined with a concussion. The Senators have played the 25-year-old in favour of veteran Craig Anderson, who many believe could be moved at the trade deadline.
“I just try to work hard and show my best for the guys and the coaches and we will see what happens,” said Hogberg.
While many of his teammates plan to head to southern beaches Hogberg said he will likely return to Belleville and hang out at home as he’s spent plenty of time in a hotel in Ottawa.
The victory also allowed Ottawa to snap its nine-game winless streak. The win comes at the perfect time as the Senators are headed into an eight-day break.
“We’ve played for stretches the way we want to play, but tonight without Hogberg we’re not winning that game, it’s that simple, he was excellent,” said Dylan DeMelo. “We got some timely goals, the power play scored which was huge for us and it kind of seemed like we didn’t have many shots, but when we did they went in.”
With nearly 40 family members on hand for the fourth installment of the Tkachuk’s clash of the brothers, it was Brady who shone bright picking up a goal and assist. It also marked the first time his Senators beat older brother Matthew’s Flames.
The game started with referee Wes McCauley throwing out Artem Anisimov and Elias Lindholm out of the faceoff circle to allow the brothers to take the opening draw.
“We got that out of the way last year and we had talked about it,” said Matthew Tkachuk. “This year we didn’t talk about it and weren’t going to do it. Wes was great – he said, ‘if I’m reffing you guys have got to do the opening draw – your mom will love it.’ [Brady] snapped that back on me pretty good and seemed to destroy the rest of our team tonight too.”
Brady admitted getting the win was a little more special considering who it was against, but in the end the two points were the most important.
“It’s two teams who need those points and definitely happy we got those two points,” said Brady. “It was all because of (Hogberg). He stood in there and had a phenomenal performance. Wish we could have lessened the load in the first period, but it showed everybody how good of a goalie he is.”
Calgary (26-19-5) saw its six-game winning streak come to an end as they played their final game before going into a nine-day break.
“We felt great about ourselves after the Toronto one – as we should have – I thought we played really well there,” said Matthew, who had scored the shootout winner in a 2-1 victory. “If we get this one tonight we go into the break feeling really good about ourselves and try to gather some momentum for the last 32 games but this didn’t allow us to feel that way (Saturday)."
David Rittich turned aside just 16-of-20 shots.
Despite outshooting the Senators, the Flames felt they made far too many mistakes which cost them in the end.
“We had a few breakdowns and they took advantage of it,” said Flames coach Geoff Ward. “At the end of the day it’s not enough when you need to catch up.”
Colin White gave Ottawa a 4-0 lead with his third-period goal by scoring on a Mikkel Boedker rebound and Vladislav Namestnikov added an empty net goal.
Mark Jankowski snapped Hogberg’s shutout bid with just under six minutes remaining in the third with his first of the season and Noah Hanifin scored late in the period.
The Senators were able to take a 2-0 lead in the second as Chris Tierney picked up a loose puck in front and backhanded it past Rittich. Connor Brown then scored on the powerplay as he dug at a puck under Rittich and was able to push it over the goal line.
Hogberg made a huge stick save on Sam Bennett midway through the second to keep the Flames off the board.
Despite getting outshot 15-3 in the first period — it was the Senators who held a 1-0 lead.
Brady Tkachuk scored his 15th of the season when he looked to pass to Anthony Duclair, but instead saw the puck deflect off Travis Harmonic’s stick before it went into the net.
This was the Senators' final home game before their eight-day break.
Notes: Jean-Gabriel Pageau missed his second straight game with a sore neck... Rudolfs Balcers was a healthy scratch.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18 2020.