After dropping their last two meetings with the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators paid a visit to the Bell Centre and finally stuck it to their division rivals. The Sens relied on a strong third period and power-play en route to a 6-3 victory — a victory that was looking like a pipe dream in the opening minutes of this game.
A couple of brutal giveaways from Alex Formenton and Dylan Gambrell put Ottawa behind the 8-ball early on, as the Habs would get two chances in tight, the latter of which Brendan Gallagher put into the back of the net. D.J. Smith challenged for goaltender interference on Mike Hoffman, but it was determined that Artem Zub pushed the former Senator into Anton Forsberg:
Furthermore, the failed challenge put Ottawa on the penalty kill, and Forsberg was relied upon to make multiple strong saves to keep the deficit at only 1-0.
Ottawa would get their own powerplay twelve minutes into the period following a David Savard interference penalty, and while literal weapon Josh Norris was unable to find the back of the net, Brady Tkachuk had one last trick up his sleeve. Tkachuk’s made several attempts to pull off his brother Matthew’s between-the-legs highlight-reel goal in his career, and this one was by far the closest yet by striking the post.
The Senators cleaned up their play a fair bit after their early penalty, and they were rewarded with a golden opportunity when Habs defenseman Corey Schueneman’s attempted pass was off the mark, right to Austin Watson, who slammed a one-timer past an unprepared Jake Allen to tie the game at 1-1. The game remained all square after twenty minutes.
Despite falling behind in shots 9-1 early on, Ottawa brought the count to 11-11 through twenty minutes.
Things would drastically heat up in the second. Drake Batherson, who looked much more dangerous after the first twenty minutes, traded opportunities with Cole Caufield, and that served as a prelude to a chaotic stretch of play featuring several odd-man rushes up and down the ice. An interference call on Caufield would send Ottawa to their second power-play, on which Tim Stützle would capitalize very quickly to give the good guys a 2-1 lead.
Shortly after, however, Colorado Avalanche 2020 1st round pick Justin Barron fired a shot through traffic to tie the game once again. 99 percent of the time, that puck hits Forsberg or a defender, or perhaps misses the net, but since Barron was looking for his first NHL goal, there was nothing the Senators could do here.
The momentum continued to resemble a pendulum for several minutes until a turnover by Joel Edmunson was picked up by Michael Del Zotto, who took advantage of the real estate and partnered with Mathieu Joseph and the captain to create this beauty:
Unfortunately, the Habs would push back to tie the game on a power-play of their own, as Cole Caufield would get a shot to squeak through Forsberg with under four minutes to go in the 2nd.
In the dying seconds of the second period, Stützle took the brunt of a knee-on-knee collision with Nick Suzuki, and fortunately, avoided an injury. For unclear reasons, this just makes the Bell Centre all kinds of angry, just listen to the boos! They could’ve been protesting the penalty on Suzuki, but that makes no sense, because since when are penalties voided if the offended player doesn’t get injured? It seems Habs fans were angry that Stützle back out to start the power play...?
This nonsense wasn’t about to go unpunished by the hockey gods. Enjoy the show, Habs fans! Watch the Sens move the puck on a short power-play, then sit through an intermission, before the go-ahead goal, courtesy of the literal weapon himself.
The go-to setup play led to a Norris rocket redirecting off of Drake Batherson and into the net, which you just know Pierre Dorion is relieved to see, given Batherson is under contract for the next five seasons.
Unfortunately for Suzuki, his penalty had proven to be the turning point in the game. Stützle wasn’t done harvesting tears just yet — he drew *another penalty* in his own zone, and right on cue, here come the Habs fans again with the boos. Aww, you guys don’t want another penalty? That’s fine! Colin White has a solution for you!
From there, the Sens held things down in their own end, killing off a Travis Hamonic tripping penalty with relative ease in the progress. Watson scored his second goal of the game into the empty net, and that would be the final goal in the contest. On top of a three-point night from Brady Tkachuk, Anton Forsberg stopping 27 of 30 shots, and superior special teams and discipline were all factors that contributed to a convincing 6-3 win.
- Even without Thomas Chabot, the defense corps is doing an admirable job of holding things together. The Del Zotto - Hamonic pair had the weakest 5-on-5 expected goals share of 32.20%, and even then, Hamonic contributed a couple of shots on goal, while Del Zotto had a nice assist, and neither was egregiously terrible in the same way that certain others have been in the past. I wouldn’t mind a third pair of that sort next year.
- Anton Forsberg probably wants one or two goals back tonight, and that probably made his performance fly under the radar. Despite not being as consistent as we’d like with those low-percentage shots, he’s made a killing stopping high-danger chances all season, and there were many points in this game in which the team was tied or trailing, and needed him to come up big for them.
- The TSN broadcast drew attention to Stützle’s penchant for drawing penalties during the third period of tonight’s game — his penalty differential comes second only to Connor McDavid. That’s a handy skill to have, and one which made the difference tonight.
- With a pair of assists tonight, Mathieu Joseph now has 9 points in 7 games as a Senator, all in his last three games. He’s built some chemistry with Tkachuk and Norris, and he’s not just Michael Bunting, either. He’s swinging for the fences. I swear, some of his takeaways have given me Mark Stone flashbacks.
- A rematch against a recent opponent — the Sens return home on Thursday, April 7th to take on the Nashville Predators at 7:00 PM EST.