OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Josh Norris scored a pair of goals in his season debut Wednesday night, leading the Ottawa Senators to a 6-1 win over the Washington Capitals.
Norris had missed the first three games of the regular season and didn’t play in the preseason, but looked solid in his return.
The road back to the game has been a difficult one for the 24-year-old Norris. He played just eight games last season because of shoulder problems that started early in the season and eventually underwent surgery in January.
“Obviously, it’s been a long road and some long days and we’re finally here now,” said Norris. “So, I think it’s kind of one of those moments. It’s weird, like, I think God’s pretty amazing and I don’t want to get like too philosophical here, but yeah, it’s just a great night and happy we won.”
As excited as Norris was to be back, his teammates were equally thrilled.
“He did what he gets paid for and put it right in the back of the net,” said linemate Drake Batherson, who set Norris up for both goals. “Super pumped for him and his family. For him to get back out there tonight, I know how excited he was. He was just happy to play, let alone get two.”
Vladimir Tarasenko, Artem Zub, Claude Giroux and Jake Sanderson also scored for the Senators (3-1-0), who picked up their third straight win. Anton Forsberg made 23 saves.
The Capitals (1-2-0), playing their first road game of the season, started off strong in the first period, but some poor defensive coverage in the remaining 40 minutes proved too much to overcome.
“In the first period, I liked our game a lot,” said Capitals coach Spencer Carbery. “I thought it was probably our best 20 minutes of the season thus far. We’re down 2-1, but I didn’t think that was an issue from a score standpoint, being able to come back in the game.
“Then the second period, sort of a microcosm of how the year is going for this group right now. Every mistake we make is ending up in the back of the net.”
John Carlson scored the Capitals’ lone goal. Darcy Kuemper stopped 23 shots.
Trailing 5-1 in the third, the Capitals managed just three shots on goal while Ottawa extended its lead on a laser of a shot from Sanderson.
Tarasenko opened the scoring four minutes in after taking a pass from Ridly Greig to beat Kuemper, but it was Norris’ power-play goal midway through the period that brought the crowd to its feet.
“He went through a lot and, you know, a lot of bad days,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “I know how emotional he was when he got hurt. To get to this point and get a couple goals here tonight, he just wanted to contribute. It was great.”
MILESTONE FOR BACKSTROM
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom skated in his 1,100th career NHL game Wednesday. Backstrom made his NHL debut on Oct. 5, 2007, against the Thrashers in Atlanta. Backstrom scored his first NHL goal against the Senators that season, beating the late Ray Emery for what would prove to be the game-winning goal in a 4-1 Caps victory.
Capitals: At the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Senators: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
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