Last night, the Ottawa Senators iced nearly a full lineup while the Montreal Canadiens sent out players mostly destined for the AHL. Tonight, the roles were reversed, and the outcome again favored the veteran squad.
Considering that Z, Smith was the team's most experienced skater, the game was much like you'd expect. The Senators were able to play with the Canadiens for much of the first half of the game thanks to a pretty consistent stream of Habs penalties. The Sens even took the lead early in the game on a nice Cory Conacher goal: Conacher, positioned at the front of the net, took advantage of a Carey Price bobbled puck to whack it home. It was a gift by Price, but the kind of goal a guy in a position battle needs to score.
Unfortunately, it was also the only goal the Senators would score. Despite multiple power play opportunities (including an extended 5-on-3) the team was rarely able to get set up in the offensive zone, much less generate sustained pressure. Even strength play was more balanced, but as it continued, the ice tilted more and more towards Montreal.
The Habs scored three unanswered goals after the Senators took the lead. Late in the first period, Alex Galchenyuk snapped a feed from Daniel Briere behind the net. Late in the second, Tomas Plekanec fired a shot that went off of Z. Smith, and midway through the third Max Pacioretty buried one. Craig Anderson played the entire game, but didn't look to be trying his hardest with a young and inexperienced team in front of him.
The Senators came away with no injuries and their youngsters got some valuable experience, so in that sense, the game was a success. In the spirit of preseason, no heroes or zeroes, but here's who I liked and didn't like.
Cory Conacher - Conacher continues to produce points when given opportunities. You have to think if he hasn't sewn up the final top six spot, he's close.
Buddy Robinson - His goal-per-game streak was broken, but he continues to look very smooth for such a big guy. Could be a factor later on in the year.
Curtis Lazar - Faded as the game went on, but had a few nice chances early.
Didn't look good:
Michael Sdao - Just had a tough game. Bobbled pucks, hesitated often, and had a few rough turnovers. He hasn't had a good preseason, but that's just inexperience.
Mark Stone - Along the same lines, Stone had some tough turnovers and killed a power play with a penalty. At this point in their careers, Stone is not Conacher's competition.
Cody Ceci - Also had a few mistakes, so there's not much doubt he's not ready for the NHL. But overall, he was mostly invisible.
Matt Puempel - No idea what his time on ice was, but Puempel was absolutely invisible on the ice.
No shot chart or highlights. 'Cause it's preseason.