Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Montreal Canadiens badly outplayed the Ottawa Senators en route to a 5-2 victory. These three games in the last two weeks vs. the Habs are like a dystopian version of Groundhog Day, where I’m trapped watching the same shellacking over and over again.
The broad points are well-known by now: the Sens hang tough in the first period, and the game seems within reach (if not winnable!) at the end of the second but Montreal completely trounces our local heroes in the third and walk away with a relatively easy victory when it’s all said and done. The Canadiens’ speed and skill proves too much as the game wears on, and when the final horn sounds we’re just left sitting there hoping it will stop. We’ve seen this show before, friends!
The specifics of this one, if you care to re-live this kind of pain, are as follows: Montreal opened the scoring less than five minutes into the game when Matthew Peca jumped on a loose puck in the slot and fired it past a helpless Mike McKenna. There weren’t many Sens players that covered themselves in glory this evening, but McKenna was good even in spite of allowing four goals. He didn’t have much of a chance to do any better.
The Sens, to their eternal credit this year, showed some spirit and bounced back less than thirty seconds later when Colin White knocked in a rebound after a Brady Tkachuk bull rush to the net:
Tkachuk had struggled a bit in recent games, so it was good to see him get rewarded for his efforts on the play.
Most of the rest of the period was played on fairly even terms, but the tide was slowly turning to Montreal. Each Sens exit from their defensive end was a little bit more frantic than the last, each cycle in the attacking zone a bit less sustained.
Montreal continued to carry play, and even pushed harder, in the second frame. But a surprising goal from Mikkel Boedker had us wondering if maybe the Sens had a chance to steal a point or two:
To give you a sense of where the game was at when Boedker scored this one, it was Ottawa’s first shot of the period, nearly ten minutes in, and total shots were 20-9 in Montreal’s favour. Of course the goal was set up by Mark Stone. When good things are happening for the Sens, there’s a better than decent chance that Stone is involved.
The Sens managed a meager two more shots on Carey Price for the rest of the period, but McKenna stood tall and Ottawa led 2-1 after 40 minutes of play. It may not have been a lead they deserved, but it was a lead they held.
The third period wasn’t any better for the Sens, but this time they weren’t quite lucky enough to get away unscathed. The Habs’ promising young rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi equalized just more than two minutes into the final frame, and only some favourable officiating kept the Habs from taking the lead barely 90 seconds later. Ottawa had been on the power-play following a Jordie Benn hook of Drake Batherson but a shorthanded goal was denied as Artturri Lehkonen was whistled for embellishing a Thomas Chabot hook:
How in gods name is this embellishment on Artturi Lehkonen?— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 16, 2018
They just robbed the Finn of a highlight reel assist. pic.twitter.com/6SWBuJdmos
Look, the Sens have been on the other end of some horrific calls in Montreal but uhhh that was something else. If this game had gone the other way, there might have been some crowd control to be done in Montreal tonight. But as it turned out, it just proved to be a bump along the way for the Habs who took the lead on a Shea Webber wrister and salted the game away with two late ones. 5-2 the final, and you might even say the score flattered Ottawa. Final shots were 47-18, and shot attempts were 61-28 at 5v5. It’s just really hard to win games like that. At least this is the last of the Habs for the year. Good riddance.
- Despite allowing four goals, McKenna was solid for the Sens. You could quibble with the Kostkaniemi goal a bit but given the sheer volume and quality of chances he faced it’s hard to put this one on the keeper. He showed up when not too many of his other teammates did not.
- Speaking of Kostkaniemi, he’s impressed me more each time I’ve seen him play. There were several times during tonight’s game where you saw the making of a great player. It’s looking like the top of the 2018 draft was absolutely loaded.