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Korpisalo looks to bring ‘consistency’ to Senators’ goal, help end playoff drought

OTTAWA – Joonas Korpisalo is hopeful he can be the final piece to help the Ottawa Senators take the next step.

The Senators signed the 29-year-old goaltender to a five-year, US$20 million contract on the opening day of free agency Saturday. Korpisalo said he had a few other options, but liked the direction of the Senators.

“There’s a couple of things with Ottawa that stood out right there,” Korpisalo said on a Zoom call with reporters Sunday morning. “Playing against the team, it’s, you know, not fun being a goalie at the other end so I wanted to be part of the team for many years to come, and I’m really excited for it.”

“I’m trying to be the last piece of the puzzle and bring consistency to the team every night,” Korpisalo added. “I think we have great pieces and with me and (Anton) Forsberg in the back end it looks really good in my eyes.”

Korpisalo, a third-round pick (62nd overall) in 2012 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, had a .913 save percentage and a 3.17 goals-against average with an 11-11-3 record through 28 games for Columbus last season.

He was sent to Los Angeles at the trade deadline and took hold of the starting job, going 7-3-1 down the stretch with a 2.13 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

With the signing, the Senators are set to enter the season with the tandem of Korpisalo and Forsberg, who is recovering from MCL tears in both his knees.

The duo are quite familiar with one another having played together with the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters, where they led the team to a Calder Cup championship in 2016.

The familiarity with Forsberg was a selling point for Korpisalo, who doesn’t know anyone else in the organization. The two connected Saturday afternoon and Korpisalo liked what he heard, making the decision a little easier.

“We go a long way back and we became friends immediately when we met each other,” Korpisalo said. “I’m super happy to create that tandem again.”

During his media availability Saturday afternoon, Senators general manager Pierre Dorion admitted the team felt it’s greatest need was in goal and the Korpisalo signing allowed them to address it.

“He’s got size, he’s athletic, he’s powerful, he’s played in the playoffs, he’s won a series,” said Dorion.

“I think we’re really comfortable moving forward now with our goaltenders.”

Korpisalo has shuttled between the AHL and NHL for much of his career. He played a career-high 37 games in the 2019-20 season where he posted a 19-12-5 record with a .911 save percentage.

Ever since Craig Anderson’s departure in 2020, the Senators have struggled to find consistency in goal. Ottawa experimented with Matt Murray and Cam Talbot but neither provided the type of play needed to help Ottawa make the step to a playoff berth.

Now the pressure will be on Korpisalo to prove he was the right choice.

After missing the playoffs for the last six seasons, much is expected from this year’s group. Korpisalo is hopeful that his post-season experience will help.

“That’s what brings the hunger for me, to play in (the playoffs) again,” said the Finnish native. “Knowing how playoff hockey is a little bit different from the regular season and stuff.

“So, for sure looking forward to getting there.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 2, 2023.

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