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Special Teams Propel Senators to 3-2 Win over Canadiens

It was closer than it needed to be, but a strong second period was all it took

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators Photo by Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images

Sens vs Habs games never fail to bring the drama.

It’s become one of those rivalries where the games are so bizarre that you can’t really draw any conclusions from them. Many things happened, some of them good, and some of them bad. All that really matters is that the Sens won.

Am I still mad the Sens didn’t take advantage of the perfect opportunity to get Ridly Greig into his first NHL game? Yes. But I do also appreciate the comedy in Montreal losing to a team with Derick Brassard as their 1C.

First Period

The Sens got off to a sleepy start, with no shots through the first thirteen minutes of the period. It was a weird role reversal, as the Habs outshot them by a lot but seemed to be spending the whole period failing at zone entries and missing wide open nets. This must be what it’s like for other teams to play the Sens.

I’m beginning to think Tim Stützle is an important possession player.

The first penalty of the game went to Thomas Chabot, and as the commentators read off the Habs’ absolutely dreadful powerplay stats, I know I’m not the only Sens fan who felt like this would either end with a shorthanded goal for the Sens for with the Habs finally ending their powerplay drought.

Neither thing happened, as Montreal’s powerplay proved to be, in fact, very bad, and Ottawa failed to take advantage of that. The Sens got a powerplay later in the frame and the most notable thing that happened was Brady finally finding himself in a position where the between-the-legs move he wants so badly the pull off would have been exactly the right move… and didn’t try it. Coward.

Also, one of the Habs players high-sticked his own teammate. It’s nice to know the Sens aren’t the only team that does that.

Second Period

Ottawa was lucky to escape the first period without giving up a goal, and they must have realized they needed to do better, because they came out of the dressing room looking like a completely different team. Pinto got two amazing chances on the first shift of the period and finished off his third just as the Habs fans at the CTC had started a “Go Habs Go” chant. Excellent timing. 1-0 Ottawa.

Montreal then ran into some disciplinary issues, with a string of bad penalties that I’m sure they’ll find a way to somehow blame on Tim Stützle. They killed of the first Senators’ powerplay, but a second one came right after it, and this time the Sens found the back of the net. 2-0 Ottawa.

It didn’t take long for noted first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky to take an extremely avoidable penalty. The Sens further extended their lead when the captain tipped in a great shot from Alex DeBrincat. That’s three assists in one period for the Cat, by the way. 3-0 Ottawa.

It was a true special teams battle right to the end of the period, with the Senators killing off another Montreal powerplay and then getting a four minute powerplay of their own. They got lots of good scoring chances, but the score held through 40 minutes.

To cap off a wild period, Brady Tkachuk attempted his favourite move, and failed, yet again. That’s four failed attempts this season, by my count. He’ll get there eventually.

Third Period

Naturally, after that electric third period, the Sens decided to sit back on their lead. Why would they expect that to work? I don’t know. This team is not good defensively.

Sure enough, Kirby Dach broke the shutout after quite a few minutes of Habs dominance. It was a long time coming. 3-1 Ottawa.

Montreal went to the powerplay soon after that goal, and although Talbot kept the Sens in it through two minutes, Hamonic immediately took another penalty, and didn’t even make it to the box before the Habs pulled within one one the delayed penalty. 3-2 Ottawa.

It’s safe to say the last few minutes of the game were pretty tense.

My personal favourite part of the third period was when the Sportsnet broadcast showed us a “Chabot ice time” clock right at the end of the game, but it was at about 23 minutes, which is actually a pretty light workload for him. Were we supposed to be impressed?

The Sens held on and pulled off the win. It was a much closer game than it needed to be, but all that matters is that they won. If they can continue to take advantage of a weak schedule for the next few weeks, then maybe we can start thinking about the playoffs.

For now, I’m just glad so many Habs fans got to see what a team full of francophone players can do.

Notable Performances

  • Brassard has been a great story, but he did not look like he could keep up with the first line. No one is going to replace Stützle, but I still think the Sens would be better off looking to Belleville for a short term fix.
  • On the bright side, the second line seems to have finally figured things out. DeBrincat especially had an excellent game, following up his two-goal performance against the Ducks with three assists tonight.
  • Cam Talbot kept them in it in the first period, and made some big stops in the third. I don’t think you could blame him on either of the Montreal goals.

Gameflow

Please note that this is the 5v5 game flow, so it may not be entirely accurate as pretty much the entire second period was played at 5v4.

Just to give you a more accurate picture of how the game went, here’s the all-situations gameflow chart:

Heatmap