After having an entire week off between games, the Ottawa Senators were understandably very rusty on Thursday as they returned to action against the Montreal Canadiens. They looked incredibly disengaged, but they had a chance to make up for that as they were facing off against the Canadiens again on Saturday night.
Luckily for the Senators, they immediately got off to a great start, thanks in part to Brendan Gallagher. Gallagher took a double-minor high-sticking penalty just 28 seconds into the game, and Ottawa took advantage of the long powerplay. 14 seconds into the powerplay, Drake Batherson passed it down to Brady Tkachuk who was right by the net. Tkachuk quickly brought it out front and was able to slide it past Carey Price:
Tkachuk was fired up after that, knowing how important it was to get a goal early, plus it was his first goal in seven games.
Because Gallagher took a double-minor, Ottawa still had two minutes left on their powerplay. Unfortunately, they failed to put the Canadiens in an even worse position. Instead, Braydon Coburn, Artem Zub, and Nikita Zaitsev would take penalties in the span of eight minutes, making it easy to let Montreal back in the game.
With just 16 seconds left in the first penalty to Coburn, Tyler Toffoli tied up the game on a one-timer that was perfectly placed over the shoulder of Anton Forsberg. The Canadiens came streaking in the zone, and because the Senators were down a man, Toffoli had all the time in the world to get his wicked shot off.
Ottawa was able to kill Zub’s penalty, and then on Zaitsev’s penalty, they were somehow even better. Nick Paul got the puck out of the zone and he had Connor Brown on his right side on a two-on-one. With both of them coming in incredibly fast, Paul placed a perfect shot on Price’s pads, and Brown was right there to bury the rebound:
It was such a well-executed play, and after one period, it was 2-1 Ottawa. Before the period finished though, Tkachuk and Shea Weber battled things out in the Canadiens zone. Weber threw Tkachuk to the ground and he had to respond to that. It was quite an impressive fight considering Weber is about 20 pounds heavier and has a reputation as one of the toughest players:
About 6 minutes into the second period, Clark Bishop had a chance at the side of the net to almost make it 3-1, but Price made the stop and Montreal came back on the counterattack. With lots of room on the left side, Josh Anderson got a cross-ice pass and had more time than should be possible. Anderson ripped it top corner, making it 2-2.
Less than a minute later though, the Senators were able to answer. Alex Formenton got the puck with speed in the neutral zone and then...everyone’s feed on Sportsnet cut out. When it came back 10 seconds later, the Senators had just scored. Apparently this is how Evgenii Dadonov got his 10th of the season:
It seemed as if Dadonov was determined to make the audience actually see him score live though, as he scored the very next goal with under four minutes to play in the second period. With Artem Anisimov behind the next, for some reason, the Canadiens defensemen left Dadonov completely alone in front of the net. Price almost stopped the one-timer, but it still sneaked through him, giving the Senators a 4-2 lead:
It would’ve been great to finish off the period with that momentum, but Montreal had other plans. Anderson was also able to score his second of the night with over a minute to go, as he picked up his own rebound and scored while several players lost battles leading up to the goal. That made it 4-3, and then just 18 seconds later, Paul took a delay of game penalty, giving the Canadiens a glorious opportunity to tie the game.
Thankfully, nothing would come of that, although Phillip Danault came incredibly close early in the third period.
Just a few minutes later, Artem Anisimov would get his second point of the night, but this time it would be a goal after Alex Formenton’s smart takeaway:
So under 3 minutes into the third period, it was 5-3 Ottawa, but they couldn’t just sit back at that point.
Montreal continued to press after that fifth goal, but Forsberg was able to stand tall the rest of the way. Drake Batherson added a 6th empty-net goal for good measure, and the Senators defeated the Canadiens by a final score of 6-3. The effort was very much welcomed, especially after the weak performance on Thursday. In the season series, Ottawa has now won four of the seven games vs. Montreal.
- Dadonov needed those two goals. He still needs to produce on the powerplay (considering he has only 1 assist), but any kind of production is welcomed of course. If this team wants to take a step next season, they’re going to need him to be closer to what he was in Florida—nobody expects 70 points, but a 50+ point player should be reasonable.
- For a player who has been in and out of the lineup (mostly out), Anisimov’s effort and results tonight were impressive. He was one of Ottawa’s best forwards with one goal and two assists, plus he led the team with 8 shot attempts in just 12:19 of TOI.
- Forsberg didn’t have much of a chance on the first two goals, so it’s hard to put too much blame on him for the goals given up.
- Zub had a rough night, taking a penalty and not doing a great job defending on Anderson’s second goal. He also had just 6 corsi for and 17 against, easily one of his worst marks this year.
- Tkachuk leads the team with five fights. He’s going to fight regardless of who is or isn’t in the Senators lineup.
- Paul and Brown continue to look fantastic on the penalty kill, as Paul almost got a shorthanded goal of his own in the third period. They’re perfect depth players to have moving forward.
- DJ Smith’s usage tonight was very even, and it’s not something I’ve seen in a long time:
Interesting stuff from DJ tonight:— Trevor Shackles (@ShackTS) April 4, 2021
-All the forwards played between 10:13 and 17:41, and most of them clustered in the middle
-All the dmen played between 15:00 and 23:54, which is a much smaller spread than we're used to seeing.
A real team effort for them
The Senators face off against the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg on Monday at 7:00 eastern. That game was rescheduled for a game initially meant to take place in May.