Tonight’s game was a cruel reminder that the Ottawa Senators are still a developing hockey team. Against a desperate Montreal Canadiens squad, they put together an impressive performance on the road, for the most part, earning a point and bringing their record in their last seven games to 5-1-1.
Unfortunately, they simply were not prepared for that adrenaline-fueled rush in the third period, collapsing at the seams and falling in overtime. The loss also marks Ottawa’s official elimination from playoff contention. At least they made it interesting down the stretch.
Like I stated before, the evening began on a positive note. The Habs forced Filip Gustavsson to make some quality saves, including back-to-back stops in-tight, but the Senators threw just as much, if not more, at Cayden Primeau, and hit multiple posts in the process.
Highlights included Victor Mete catching the Montreal defense off guard with a rush that was eerily similar to the one which led to his goal against Vancouver last game, as well as Thomas Chabot crossing up Cole Caufield before finding Mike Amadio for a nice chance. Ottawa’s effort in the first was about as good as you could ask for.
The Habs opened up the second with two solid chances, drawing a penalty in the process. Ottawa did a great job on the kill; Corey Perry was all alone in front and would’ve had a Grade-A opportunity had it not been broken up.
With just under 11:00 to go in the second, Josh Norris took a hard hit from Alexander Romanov, and responded by dropping the gloves; Romanov was a willing participant but lost the tilt quite handily:
Both teams would continue to fight an even battle. The Canadiens, in the fight of their lives, and the Senators, just having a good ‘ole time. You’ll never guess which team opened the scoring.
Unless of course, you watched the game, then you know it was Ottawa.
Tim Stützle let loose a powerful wrist shot from a surprising distance, beating Primeau for the 1-0 lead:
The Habs pushed once again, but in their pursuit of the tying goal, they were caught with too many men during an on-the-fly change. The power-play would carry into the third period, with Ottawa up in shots, 20-19.
At the start of the third period, Phillip Danault caught Stützle with a high-stick for the forty-forth time this season. He’s taken a ton of punishment this year, you’d think someone broke into his equipment while he wasn’t looking and installed a magnet on his chin strap. (It’s a weird stick-magnet, just work with me here.)
Anyway, Ottawa got a 5-on-3 but it’s for the best that we don’t talk about it, trust me. Instead, here’s Thomas Chabot a few minutes later, doubling the Senators’ lead:
Thomas Chabot with goals in back-to-back games! 2-0 OTT. Slick pass by Dadonov. pic.twitter.com/aFfQylOJt1— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) May 2, 2021
Shout-out to Nick Paul and Shane Pinto, aggressively forcing the Habs’ defenders back and allowing Chabot the time and space to make his shot count. That’s something we can count on Pinto to do consistently going forward, supporting his teammates away from the puck at both ends is something in which he’s been proficient in the lower leagues.
Now, how should I describe this next part? A learning experience? Young mistakes? Either way, it was all bad. First, the oft-underrated Jeff Petry baited Erik Brännström hard, faking a pass and beating Gustavsson to cut the Senators’ lead in half:
Up next were two power-play goals. One was disallowed for goaltender interference (though Gary Galley disagreed for some reason), and the other was a textbook setup and execution, finished off by Tyler Toffoli. Really should’ve kept him, eh, Canucks?
Montreal was dominant in the dying minutes. Aside from Gustavsson (once again, thank god for Filip Gustavsson), the clock was doing the majority of the work for Ottawa. They survived regulation down in shots 36-23, but the pain did not stop.
A short yet brutal 3-on-3 overtime was capped off by Brady Tkachuk being trapped on the ice for too long, Stützle losing his man in the defensive zone, and the dagger coming courtesy of Cole Caufield’s first NHL goal. Which for me, doesn’t suck any more than it would if any other Hab scored, because I didn’t Tweet anything about him earlier. My condolences to those of you who did. But, let me reiterate that it still really sucks.
- So, now that we can say for sure that Ottawa will miss the playoffs, is it time to go for that Top-5 pick? Heck no! Finish as high as possible, and prove that you’re a changed team. In particular, take the positives from tonight, and learn how to consistently close games out.
- Tim Stützle has had a rough rookie season, with all the penalties drawn, as well as the many struggles expected of a 19-year-old rookie who certainly wasn’t drafted for his defensive play. However, we can be optimistic about the fact that Stützle’s an incredibly hardworking player who’s eager to work on his flaws. I fully expect that after a dedicated offseason, he’ll leave his past self in the dust.
- It felt like Chris Tierney was on the ice for every scoring chance against tonight. He also did this:
- Nikita Zaitsev and Josh Brown were the only Sens’ defencemen to post a 5v5 xGF% above fifty percent according to NaturalStatTrick, a sign of improvement from earlier in the season.
- Protect. Filip. Gustasvsson.
- Heading back home, the Senators face another tough opponent in the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, May 3rd at 7:00 PM EST.