Senators are confident Jake Sanderson’s first NHL goal will be one of many

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ANAHEIM – There’s no better stage than the Vegas Strip to score your first NHL goal.

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Even though Jake Sanderson Would have liked to have come in better circumstances, the rookie defenseman was delighted to put it out of the way with the only goal in the Ottawa Senators’ 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

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20-year-old Sanderson’s shot from the point beat the keeper Logan Thompson Tied with 18 seconds left in the first period. When captain Brady Tkachuk raised his arms in the air and tried to fish the loose puck out of the net, Sanderson knew he had reason to celebrate.

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It came with his father Geoff, who competed for 1,104 games with Hartford, Carolina, Columbus, Vancouver, Buffalo and Arizona in his NHL career, was in town to watch the game.

“It feels good. It took a while but I’m glad I got it and I’m grateful my dad was able to be there to see it, so it’s pretty cool,” Sanderson said.

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Tkachuk, whose father, keith, was a prolific goalscorer in the NHL and is a Hall of Famer inductee, knows how nice it was for Jake to share that moment with Geoff.

“It’s got to be exciting for Jake, his dad and his whole family,” Tkachuk said. “It wasn’t just Jake that got him to where he is now, it was his whole family who helped him grow up, got him to practice and were great role models for him.

“As great as it is for Jake, it’s a celebration for all of the family, close friends and everyone who has helped Jake along the way.”

Sanderson had a chance to spend a few minutes with Geoff after the game before the club headed to Anaheim to prepare to face the Ducks here on Friday afternoon.

“It was pretty cool. I know my family watches all the games but to have him here in person is quite lucky for him to be here,” Sanderson said.

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In a season that hasn’t started the way the club expected, Sanderson has been a bright spot. He played important minutes and has a certain balance and maturity in his game. He played 22 minutes and 41 seconds against the Knights.

“He was phenomenal for us. Even when he came here, even last year, you could see what a great player he is and what a good guy he is as well,” said Tkachuk. “I’m so happy for him. It’s a dream to play in the NHL, but not many people can say that to score your first NHL goal.

“There will definitely be more goals coming from him just because he’s a great player and how dominant he’s going to be over the next few years.”

Sanderson is the first Montana-born player in league history to score.

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“It’s pretty cool. Hopefully some kids in Montana watched the game or saw something on TV,” he said. “I’m pretty blessed to come from such a great family and the great state of Montana. I’m really proud of it , where I’m from. I’m just glad I scored and made it out of the way.”

WAITING FOR THOMAS

The Senators hosted a very optional skate Thursday at the Honda Center.

Coach DJ Smith said he had to wait until after the defense attorney Thomas Chabot went ice skating with a few players in the afternoon before determining if he’ll be ready to play the Anaheim Ducks at 3:00 p.m. EST on Friday.

He was scheduled to return against the Knights but was unable to obtain medical clearance.

Smith noted the forced upper body injury Artem acc Missing eight games and Chabot’s subsequent ones have created a void.

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“He’s going to skate today and it’s a huge loss for us,” Smith said. “He missed five times in a row. I don’t think he and Zub have played in a game together for 12 games. It’s a big hole for us but I think there was a lot of really good effort on a lot of nights and the guys did a good job.”

HOLIDAY MESSAGE

It was Thanksgiving in the United States on Thursday and Smith spoke to the players about trying to stay on top of things during this difficult time.

The club are 2-9-1 in their last 12 games and need to turn things around this season.

“It’s Thanksgiving and we have a lot of American players here,” Smith said. “Today you should be thankful that you are where you are. We have the opportunity to play sport for a living, you have a great life and that goes for everyone involved here.

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“Sometimes you just have to look back and say to yourself, ‘There are bigger things in the world to be grateful for, and now just go out and have fun’.”

THE LAST WORDS

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the club went back Cam Talbot against the ducks.

Talbot knows he has to get better. He’s 35 and has been around long enough to understand that goalkeepers play a big part in all of this.

“We have to keep playing as we have been and stick with it,” said Talbot. “Maybe an extra save or two. Sometimes when you’re in a crisis like that you need a keeper to steal one and that’s up to me and (Anton Forsberg) to steal one and at least give us a chance.

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