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

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ANAHEIM – No better stage than the Vegas strip to score your first NHL goal.

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although Jack Sanderson would have liked to have come under better circumstances, the rookie defenseman was pleased to get it out of the way with the lone goal in the Ottawa Senators 4-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.

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20-year-old Sanderson’s shot from the point went past goaltender Logan Thompson with 18 seconds left in the first period, tie. When Captain Brady Tkachuk threw up his arms and fished the loose puck out of the net, Sanderson knew he had reason to celebrate.

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

“It felt nice. It took a while, but I’m glad I got it and I’m thankful my dad was able to be there to watch it, so it’s pretty cool,” Sanderson said.

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Tkachuk, whose father is, Kees, was a prolific scorer in the NHL and is a Hall-of-Fame nominee, knows how much fun it was for Jake to share this moment with Geoff.

“It must be exciting for Jake, his father and his whole family,” Tkachuk said. “It wasn’t just Jake who got him to where he is today, it was his whole family who helped him grow up, keep him practicing and were great role models for him.

“As great as it is for Jake, it’s a celebration for all the family, close friends and everyone who 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 for meeting the Ducks here Friday afternoon.

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

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In a season that has not started as the club expected, Sanderson has been a bright spot. He has played important minutes and has poise and maturity in his game. He played 22 minutes and 41 seconds against the Knights.

“He’s been phenomenal for us. Right from the moment he came here, even last year, you could see how great he is as a player and also how good he is,” said Tkachuk. “I’m so happy for him. It’s a dream come true to play in the NHL, but getting your first NHL goal, not many people can say that.

“There will definitely be more goals coming from him just because he is a great player and how dominant he will be in the years to come.”

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

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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 where I come from. I’m just glad I scored and got it out of the way.”

WAITING FOR THOMAS

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

Coach DJ Smith said he had to wait until after the defender Thomas Chabot skated with a few players in the afternoon before deciding if he was ready to play against the Anaheim Ducks at 3 PM EST on Friday.

He was scheduled to return against the Knights, but was unable to get a medical clearance.

Smith noted the upper body injury that forced Artem Zub to miss eight games and Chabot’s have created a void.

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“He’s going to skate today and it’s a huge loss for us,” said Smith. “He missed five in a row. I don’t think he and Zub played 12 games together in one match. That’s a big gap for us, but in saying that I think a lot of good effort was put in 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 keep everything in perspective during this difficult stretch.

The club is 2-9-1 in its last 12 games and needs to turn around this season.

“It’s Thanksgiving and we have a lot of American players here,” said Smith. “Today should be a day that you are thankful that you are where you are. We have the chance to play a sport for a living, you have a great life and that’s 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 that you should be thankful for and now just go out and have fun’.”

THE LAST WORDS

It would come as no surprise if the club returns to Cam Talbot against the Ducks.

Talbot knows he needs to get better. He is 35 years old and he has been around long enough to understand that goalkeeping plays a big role in this.

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

bgarrioch@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/sungarrioch

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