It had been over 100 days since Bobby Ryan last played an NHL game at the Canadian Tire Centre for the Ottawa Senators. In his return on Thursday, the veteran forward was able to mark the emotional occasion with a hat trick.
Earlier this season, Ryan took an indefinite leave of absence from the team to enter the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. He had been struggling with alcohol, which he opened up about earlier this week.
In a remarkable set of circumstances for the 32-year-old, Ryan was able to capitalize in just his first period back on Ottawa’s home ice against the Vancouver Canucks.
His first game back at home and Bobby Ryan has a goal.— NHL (@NHL) February 28, 2020
Welcome back‼️ pic.twitter.com/J2HNcviPQ0
Following a rocket to the net from Senators defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, Ryan was able to get the right deflection to double Ottawa’s lead at the time.
Not only was it an important goal for Ryan and the game itself, many of those in attendance demonstrated their appreciation for his achievements on and off the ice shortly after it happened.
After fans chanted "Bobby, Bobby!" for Bobby Ryan's first goal since returning to the team, the Senators played a welcome back video, and got another rise out of the crowd.— Hailey Salvian (@hailey_salvian) February 28, 2020
What an awesome moment for Bobby. So happy for him and his family. pic.twitter.com/krhjZRWYgC
To increase the drama, Ryan scored again in the third period to make it a 4-2 game with just over two minutes remaining. After a quick break involving Senators forwards Nick Paul and Chris Tierney, the latter sent the puck from behind the net right onto the tape of Ryan’s stick.
Like he suddenly found the fountain of youth, the former 30-goal scorer wristed a laser over the shoulder of Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko.
To complete the storybook ending, Ryan scored an empty-net goal less than a minute later to secure the 5-2 victory and his hat trick.
Understandably, emotions were high.
Bobby Ryan fighting back tears on the bench after recording a hat trick in his return to Ottawa and receiving a massive ovation from the fans pic.twitter.com/lpVpDSh7J1— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 28, 2020
Ryan had four shots and played nearly 16 minutes in the Senators’ 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, his first game back since entering the program on Nov. 20.
He now has four goals and seven points in 18 games played for the Senators this season.
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