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Senators show ‘maturity’ in big win in Seattle, keeping pace in wild-card race

The Ottawa Senators kept their composure against a very good Seattle Kraken team.

It paid off in a badly needed 5-4 win Thursday as the Senators fought to keep pace in the wild-card race. With the victory, Ottawa moves to 70 points, four behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild-card spot and six behind the New York Islanders, but the Sens have three games in hand on the Isles.

This was a seesaw game that the Senators once led by three goals and then trailed by one, before scoring two in the third period to put it away.

Veteran forward Claude Giroux tied the game 4-4 after the Kraken went ahead early in the third. Alex DeBrincat scored the game-winner at 17:37.

Rookie goaltender Mads Sogaard stopped 29 of 33 shots to record the win.

“That’s a big win for us to stay with it the way we did,” said Senators head coach D.J. Smith. “That’s as fast a team as we’ve played.”

And as hot a team as they’ve faced in a while. Seattle came into the game riding a five-game winning streak.

Unlike their 5-0 loss in Chicago to start this road trip, the Senators started smartly, surging to a three-goal lead as Shane Pinto and trade-deadline acquisitions Jakob Chychrun and Patrick Brown scored. It was Brown’s first goal as an Ottawa Senator.

Smith liked the way Brown battled as a bottom-six forward in a playoff-style fight for territory. Brown also comes as advertised in the faceoff circle, winning 67 per cent of his draws. Giroux won some very important faceoffs, and ended up at 70 per cent.

Seattle got a couple of friendly bounces to get back in this game, and the Sens had to stay with it as the Kraken tied the game in the second period and took a brief lead in the third.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Pinto said. “I know we had a tough game in Chicago, but the way we responded and the maturity we showed (Thursday), it’ll go a long way, for sure.

“We stuck with it. We believe in our group.”

The addition of Chychrun has clearly made Ottawa’s back end more dangerous with offensive contributions. Senators defencemen contributed five points to the victory, including a goal and assist from Chychrun and two assists for Nick Holden.

“The way the league is now, defence has to contribute offensively,” Holden said. “By joining the rush or extending plays.”

The veteran praised his team’s resilience.

“We just stuck to our game and kept coming,” Holden said. “All the games down the stretch are going to be like this. You have to handle the momentum swings. They are going to get their chances, but you have to bend, don’t break.”

After this must-win, the Senators face a busy weekend. They are in Vancouver Saturday night before hopping over to Calgary Sunday for a date with the Flames. The road trip ends in Edmonton Tuesday night.

Ownership bids roll in

The NHL had set a deadline of Monday for the first round of ownership bids for the Ottawa franchise and there is plenty of interest from legitimate business entities in becoming the next owners of the Senators and a new downtown arena., a sports news and information site based in Los Angeles, reported on Thursday that nine separate bids have been received by the NHL and Galatioto Sports Partners.

While the NHL has said that as many as 15 parties had expressed interest in buying the Senators, there is more than enough serious interest from confirmed bidders in Michael Andlauer’s group in Toronto, the Remington Group of Markham, north of Toronto, Jeffrey and Michael Kimel (former Pittsburgh Penguins minority partners) and Neko Sparks of L.A., who is heading up a consortium of investors with ties to the entertainment industry.

The NHL has indicated the bidding could get up around $1 billion for the Senators, which seems like a huge number but is actually appealing to big-money players for two reasons: it is a bargain compared to the cost of acquiring NFL or NBA franchises, and the concept of a new arena and development near the heart of Parliament Hill creates revenue opportunities far beyond the business of running a hockey team.

In recent weeks, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been effusive in his praise of Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds for his interest in being a part of the Senators ownership team. And though Reynolds has aligned himself with the Remington Group, it will be interesting to see if other alliances form through this process.

Galatioto Sports, an investment bank based in New York, was hired by sisters Anna and Olivia Melnyk, who are selling the franchise after inheriting it from their late father, Eugene Melnyk.

The sale is expected to be settled over the next few months.


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