Giroux lifts Senators to 2-1 win over struggling Islanders

Ottawa Senators centre Shane Pinto scores on New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov as Islanders defenceman Sebastian Aho defends during first period NHL action, Wednesday, January 25, 2023 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - Claude Giroux’s game-winning goal Wednesday night likely won’t stand out in his mind, but you can bet Ridly Greig will never forget it.

The 20-year-old Greig was making his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators and Giroux picked up a Greig rebound to score what proved to be the winner against the New York Islanders in a 2-1 victory.

“It was unreal,” Greig said after the game. “You know, obviously a dream come true just to get out there and obviously to get the win it’s pretty good.”

Greig’s debut was impressive as he had eight shots on goal, tying the record for most shots on goal in an NHL debut. His defensive game was also impressive.

“His hockey sense is really high,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “He can skate. He’s really competitive. He’s a hockey player. He’s going to be a real good hockey player, it’s just over time is he ready now or not and I’ll tell you tonight he was effective.”

Greig played alongside Giroux, who he idolized as a child, and Alex DeBrincat and made an immediate impact on his coach and teammates.

“He’s fun to play with,” said Giroux. “His game is very mature. I remember my first game, mentally I wasn’t very there so it’s pretty impressive the way he was playing and winning puck battles and we had a good time.”

Shane Pinto also scored for the Senators (21-23-3), who snapped a two-game losing streak. Anton Forsberg, who stopped 22 shots, was called into action in the second period after starter Cam Talbot, who made 14 saves, left the game with a lower body injury.

The Senators will have a better assessment on Talbot on Thursday, but Smith doesn’t expect Talbot to be available to the team before the all-star break.

The Islanders (23-22-5) continue to struggle as their winless streak reached six games (0-4-2). Brock Nelson scored the lone goal for New York, while Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 shots.

“We battled,” said Casey Cizikas. “You can’t take that away. We battled hard. We worked. It’s just unfortunate. We’ve got to find a way to win these games. It’s definitely tough, but we’ve got to dig deep. We’ve just got to find a way.”

Trailing by one goal the Islanders pushed hard for the equalizer with Varlamov on the bench, but Forsberg made a couple of big saves to salvage the win.

“I thought we played well,” said Forsberg. “I thought we fought hard all game for this team. We just stayed with it the whole game and I think that’s the biggest part and I think that’s what we have to do moving forward here to get some more wins.”

Both teams exchanged goals in the second, but the Islanders were able to finish the period with a bit of momentum.

“I thought as the game went on we started to take the game over a little bit, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” said Islanders coach Lane Lambert.”

Ottawa took a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal early in the period.

Giroux saw a rebound coming his way and dove to get a shot off and managed to beat Sorokin for his second point of the game. Greig, making his NHL debut, picked up the primary assist on the play.

Having the opportunity to play with Giroux was special, but getting his first NHL point off his goal will definitely be a highlight for a long time.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Greig. “He was a big part of (me) growing up and I kind of idolized him a bit, so yeah it’s pretty unreal that the point came on that.”

It was also pretty special for Greig as his father, who was at the game, was celebrating his birthday.

INTERESTING FACT

Ridley Greig, who made his NHL debut Wednesday night, is the son of retired NHL forward Mark Greig who played 125 games for the Hartford Whalers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers from 1990-2003.

NOTES

Ottawa F Mark Kastelic missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Nikita Zaitsev will return after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury … The Islanders are riding a five-game losing streak (0-3-2) and president and GM Lou Lamoriello says he takes full responsibility. "There's no excuses,” Lamoriello told reporters. “Because it's on me, totally on me. That's my responsibility to make us the best we possibly can, to make whatever changes we can. That's not on the coaching staff, that's not on the players, and I take that responsibility.”

UP NEXT

The Senators head to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on Friday night, while the Islanders will host Detroit on Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2023.

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