Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan had the best possible homecoming Thursday night.
Ryan was playing his first home game — and second overall — since he completed the NHL/NHL Players' Association assistance program for alcohol addiction.
The fans were behind him, some holding signs that read, "We missed you," and he increased that affection by scoring a hat trick in a 5-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan had entered the program on Nov. 20 and returned to practice last week.
"For my wife to stand by me and let me go get help and take on a lot and for me to come back and contribute in that sense, it's just a family victory," he told Sportsnet after the game.
Ryan scored on a deflection in the first period and the fans chanted his name. His second goal, scored late in the third period, was impressive as he kicked the puck to his stick before scoring.
He scored the third goal into an empty net 19 seconds later, and he got emotional on the bench as fans went wild.
"The Ottawa community is just incredible," he said. "I never doubted that they would be behind me and they never let me down, so it was nice that we all got to enjoy this night as a group."
Bobby Ryan gets emotional after recording hat trick in return from hiatus. 😢❤️
The goals were the second, third and fourth of the season for Ryan. It was his fifth hat trick and first since Dec. 29, 2014.
"Sometimes in hockey, you get those moments, and that was one," said Senators coach D.J. Smith.
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