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Ottawa Senators defenceman Artem Zub and goaltender Anton Forsberg keep their eyes on the puck during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Senators won 2-0 in Ottawa on March 28, 2024.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Ottawa Senators were well aware of the Connor Bedard factor on Thursday but they were much more concerned with their own play than the young Chicago Blackhawks forward.

Ottawa played a near perfect game and was rewarded with a 2-0 win for its effort and made rookie Bedard a non-factor for much of the night.

Bedard was making his one and only appearance in the nation’s capital and a sold-out crowd was on hand at Canadian Tire Centre to see the 18-year-old centre, but in the end it was the home team who made a lasting impression.

Anton Forsberg was solid in a 19-save shutout performance and Ottawa (31-36-4) had first-period goals from Claude Giroux and Parker Kelly.

“Really good start; kind of set the tone for the rest of the game,” said Kelly. “Thought we did a pretty good job of just keeping them at bay, getting pucks behind them and not really letting them in our zone. Really liked our game tonight, a full 60.”

The win was Ottawa’s first against Chicago since Dec. 20, 2016, snapping an 11-game losing skid.

Peter Mrazek had a rough first period for the Blackhawks (21-46-5), but settled in and stopped 32 shots.

Fans piled near the glass during warm-ups to see Bedard, but the rookie was quiet on this night and when he was noticeable it wasn’t for the best reasons. He finished the night a minus-2 and had three giveaways.

Chicago went on the power play just nine seconds into the game but Giroux took a pass from Jacob Bernard-Docker and beat Mrazek with a wrist shot to score short-handed and the Blackhawks struggled from that point on.

“We just didn’t match their intensity,” said Chicago coach Luke Richardson. “I think they were a step ahead of us everywhere and unfortunately we paid the price. (Mrazek) kept us in and gave us a chance to get back in the game but our power play that has been very good for us lately tonight was a little sloppy.”

Kelly capitalized on a Bedard giveaway. The Senators forward put a shot on goal and it went off former Senators’ defenceman Nikita Zaitsev giving him a career-high eight goals.

Zaitsev left the game, but Richardson said he wasn’t feeling great before the game and it escalated as he played. He also added that Zaitsev has been battling an upper-body injury of late.

Ottawa was coming off a 6-2 win over Buffalo the night before while Chicago had been waiting in Ottawa. The Senators, who have been playing well of late and riding a three-game winning streak, played a solid, simple game.

“We got saves when we needed it, and got a short-handed goal to start it and then again some production from different people,” said interim head coach Jacques Martin. “I thought we had a pretty good game, competed well and a good result.”

The Blackhawks tried to get back into the game in the second period but Forsberg was solid when called upon and the Senators held Chicago to just five shots in the third.

“The first period was the difference, it’s as simple as that,” said Chicago veteran Nick Foligno. “We’ve had trouble with our starts. I don’t know what it is. Obviously, they were excited coming back to a sold-out rink and we just didn’t have the same energy and compete that we needed.”


Ottawa D Thomas Chabot missed the game with a lower-body injury that has been nagging Chabot in recent weeks. He’s not expected to miss significant time ... Tyler Kleven was recalled from the American Hockey League’s Belleville Senators ... Chicago’s Reese Johnson missed the game due to concussion protocol.

Up next

Senators: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Blackhawks: Visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

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