Bobby Ryan made the most of his return to Canadian Tire Centre.
The veteran forward played in front of Ottawa Senators fans Thursday night for the first time since he entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, and he recorded a hat trick in a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Ryan scored in the first period before adding two more in the third to wrap up an incredible performance. He also had a fight in the contest and was named the first star.
The 32-year-old was noticeably emotional on the bench afterward as the home crowd and his teammates gave him a rousing ovation.
"I knew Ottawa, being the community it is, that the reception would be good," Ryan told Sportsnet's Kyle Bukauskas after the win. "It just got harder to keep the emotions down throughout the game."
Ryan was also asked if he believes in hockey gods after his unforgettable evening.
"Yeah, I do." Ryan said. "But I didn't think I'd be on their good side for everything that's gone on in my personal life for the last little while. I guess they granted me some reprieve and gave me a good night."
Ryan took a leave from the Senators on Nov. 20 and returned to the club's lineup on the road Tuesday versus the Nashville Predators. The 2005 second overall pick had posted 551 points in 826 career games entering Thursday's contest.