The Habs visited Ottawa for the final time this season on Saturday night, with Carey Price again in net, Michael Pezzetta back in the lineup with Joel Armia in Finland, and Rafael Harvey-Pinard back in Laval.
The game started well enough but a disastrous 67-second stretch in the second period put it out of reach for the Habs. There were bright spots but also defensive errors and a second weak game for Carey Price, and the Senators skated off the ice with a 6-4 victory.
Chirp First, Play Later
Brendan Gallagher and Brady Tkachuk performed a ceremonial faceoff in honour of mental health efforts and posed for photos, but as soon as the camera moved away, the chirping started. And once the actual faceoff was done, it was Josh Anderson in a shoving match with Parker Kelly; it was clear that this was not just a nothing game between two bottom-feeding teams.
The Habs had the early edge, taking a 5-0 advantage in shots — but the first Ottawa shot counted more than those five.
As the Senators entered the Montreal zone, a Scott Sabourin shot was blocked by Chris Wideman, and the puck ended up on the right-side boards. Mark Kastelic pushed Pezzetta out of the way and then flipped the puck at the net. Price seemed unprepared for the harmless-looking shot and the puck went past him, bouncing back out of the net. An Ottawa lead, then, just 2:33 into the game.
Sabourin shot the puck back at Price after the goal and followed it up for good measure by shoving Jordan Harris. Meanwhile, Pezzetta took exception to Kastelic’s play on the boards and the two started wrestling immediately, even as the puck was making its way into the net, with Pezzetta gaining the upper hand before the pair were sent to the penalty box.
About a minute later, Drake Batherson took a run at Alexander Romanov behind the Habs’ net but got the worst of it himself, ending up sprawled on the ice.
Sabourin was called for slashing after the whistle at 5:30, giving the Canadiens a man advantage for two minutes. They didn’t make much of it, though, as they continue to have difficulty performing a controlled zone entry on a power play.
The Senators had their power play opportunity at 12:08 as Mike Hoffman was sent to the box for cross-checking, but their effort wasn’t much better than the Habs’. The only real chance was by Chris Tierney, on a rush into the Montreal zone, but Price got his pad out to block that shot.
At 16:36 the teams created the biggest scrum in the game yet, with David Savard sent off for two minutes for the original slashing infraction; Anderson and Tkachuk for roughing; and Romanov and Alex Formenton for a ten-minute misconduct each.
Just as the Savard penalty expired, Rem Pitlick and Christian Dvorak got the puck from the left-side boards to Gallagher rushing in alone in front of the net, but Gallagher could not lift the puck over Anton Forsberg with his backhand.
Only 25 seconds later, though, Gallagher and Jake Evans had the puck on the right-side boards, and with the Senators all focused on Gallagher, no one paid attention to Pitlick. Except Evans, that is, who spotted him free in front of the net and fed him a tidy pass. Pitlick, who has not been shooting much recently, made no mistake and lifted the puck into the top corner to tie the game up at one apiece at 15:57.
The Canadiens finished the period with a 16-6 edge in shots and 8-5 in high-danger scoring chances. However, it was only one goal each on the board.
67 Seconds Is All It Takes
The second period started on a down note for the Habs as it took only 44 seconds for the puck to end up in the Montreal net. Nick Holden took a shot from near the blue line, and Austin Watson tipped the knee-high shot into the net to the right of Price to give the Senators back the lead.
Three and a half minutes later, Gallagher finally had the chance to chirp with Tim Stutzle in a faceoff circle, and Gallagher ended up pushing the Ottawa star into the ice, attracting a roughing penalty for his efforts. Fortunately, Ottawa’s power play continued to be as inept as that of the Canadiens.
Six minutes after the Watson goal, the Habs got caught napping as the Senators turned around a Canadiens rush with a Watson pass breaking Parker Kelly loose. Chris Wideman was pinching and no one was covering for him, so it was only David Savard back on the two-on-one. Savard slid, effectively preventing a pass, but Kelly wristed the puck behind Price in any case.
Add about 30 seconds to that, and this time it was Brady Tkachuk taking a shot from outside the left-side faceoff circle. Josh Norris had his skate angled correctly, and the puck deflected directly in between Price’s pad and the post to extend the Ottawa lead to 4-1.
If things didn’t look grim enough yet, 35 seconds later Sabourin pried the puck loose in the corner to the left of the Montreal goal, and fed it to Kastelic, who had no one paying attention to him. Two minutes and 10 seconds still to go before the halfway point of the game, and the Senators now had a 5-1 lead.
Just 53 seconds later, though, Hoffman stripped the puck from Thomas Chabot on the right-side boards in the Habs’ zone, and broke into a two-on-one rush with Cole Caufield. Travis Hamonic could not prevent the pass to Caufield, and the young sniper beat Forsberg cleanly with his shot.
At 12:52 Pezzetta followed that up by tripping Batherson, giving the Senators yet another man advantage opportunity to get a power play set up. This time the Senators were able to gain possession after a faceoff to the right of Price, but the chances they did get were not particularly dangerous.
As the penalty expired, Pezzetta streaked out of the penalty box for the loose puck, feeding it to Evans. The Habs got their chances in front, with Pezzetta causing havoc and Pitlick whacking at the loose puck in front of the net. However, Forsberg was able to cover up the puck before Pitlick was able to push it over the line.
With about three minutes left in the period, the Senators were called for a delayed penalty, and the Habs were able to move the play into the Ottawa zone. However, Tkachuk and Edmundson were still pushing and shoving behind the play.
Tkachuk had dropped his stick, and Edmundson had his skate on it, ensuring a solid head start on the Senators’ captain. And as Edmundson skated into the Ottawa zone, with Tkachuk far behind, Evans sent him the puck, and Edmundson wired it past Forsberg to narrow the Ottawa lead to 5-3 with 2:53 remaining in the period.
With just under two mintues left in the period, Adam Gaudette was called for holding in the offensive zone, giving the bleu, blanc, et rouge a chance to bring the game within one.
And it took only 13 seconds to score — for Ottawa, that is. With the power play formation working for the Habs, Hoffman made a weak pass near the blue line, and Formenton jumped on it. Petry chased him, but could not strip him of the puck, and Formenton beat Price on the stick side to make it 6-3.
The second period was all Senators, on the scoreboard as well as the stats, with the Ottawa team outshooting the Habs 18-16 and holding a 9-3 edge in high-danger scoring chances.
If You Get a Third Chance You Need to Score
The Habs came out to play in the final period, determined to not give up in the face of a 6-3 deficit. And all Habs it was for most of it, with the Senators not recording their second shot on goal until late in the period.
Petry took a shot from the blue line just before the seven-minute mark, and Pezzetta had a few whacks at the rebound in front of Forsberg, but the Swedish goalie again managed to cover up before things went
At 8:19, though, when the rebound from Gallagher’s shot came loose, Pitlick was ready for it, and made no mistake lifting it into the net, and narrowing the lead to 6-4.
The Habs continued to apply pressure and Forsberg made a mistake playing the puck behind his net with five and half minutes left. It came out to the front of the net, but Hoffman could not get his shot off before Forsberg had scrambled back to the front of the net.
With just under four minutes left, Kelly hooked David Savard into the corner boards, with Savard lucky to avoid injury. Suzuki had a look on the ensuing power play but shot the puck wide.
Stutzle stole the puck just 20 seconds later, streaking in nearly alone, with only Harris attempting to harass him. Stutzle’s shot ended up being wide, but Harris was sent to the sin bin for hooking on the play, turning the Montreal man advantage into a four-on-four.
Neither that, nor the ensuing Ottawa power play changed anything, though, and as the clock reached the final minute, the Habs attempted to control the play in order to pull Price. They finally did, and Hoffman had a glorious chance in front of Forsberg with 15 seconds left on the clock, but in front of the net, but Holden got his stick in front of the shot, deflecting it out of play.
Stutzle attempted a final empty-netter but shot wide, leaving 6-4 as the final score.
The shots in the final frame were 16-2 for the Canadiens, and the high-danger scoring chances 6-2 for them as well.
HW Habs Three Stars
First Star: Rem Pitlick (2g, 0a, +2, 2 shots, 19:25 TOI) was everywhere, including both special teams, and in particular he was in front of the net and knew where to shoot the puck.
Second Star: Joel Edmundson (1g, 0a, +0, 4 shots, 21:17 TOI) deserves a star for his clever work against Tkachuk and then the solid shot when he arrived in the offensive zone.
Third Star: Jake Evans (0g, 2a, +0, 2 shots, 16:49 TOI) was a force on ice, outdistancing the Senators 8-2 in high-danger scoring chances while on the ice. The two points on the night were well deserved for the work he put in tonight.
Honourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher (0g, 1a, +1, 6 shots, 15:04 TOI) was doing what Brendan Gallagher does best, aggravating the opposition and creating havoc in front of the net. He had a few chances to score himself, too, and apart from the penalty on pushing Stutzle around, was doing exactly what he needs to do for the Habs.