The final game before the trade deadline is always a strange one.
Nick Paul was sitting out just to make sure he doesn’t get injured before a potential trade, and who knows if others such as Austin Watson, Zach Sanford, and Josh Brown could be on the move before Monday’s deadline. The Ottawa Senators were facing the Montreal Canadiens tonight for just their second matchup of the season. Although Montreal had lost their two previous games, they were 8-5-0 in their last 13 games coming into tonight.
The beginning of the game was quite chaotic. Ottawa and Montreal traded chances, getting the crowd into the game, which the Senators haven’t been able to fully experience at the Bell Centre in over two years. There was some sloppiness on both sides of the puck, but Filip Gustavsson and Jake Allen were on top of things. The Senators were mightily close to scoring on a powerplay thanks to a Jeff Petry penalty, but the luck wasn’t quite on their side just yet.
The end of the period finally opened the floodgates, as Jake Evans got on the board first with a sweet finesse shot that Gustavsson had no chance on. Tyler Ennis failed to clear the puck in the defensive zone, and Artturi Lehkonen stole it then fed it to a streaking Evans. With 3:28 left, Montreal had a 1-0 lead.
Thankfully, Petry would take his second penalty of the night just a few minutes later, and Ottawa looked incredibly lethal on the powerplay. It was only a matter of time before they scored, and boy was the wait worth it...Tim Stützle, Colin White, and Josh Norris teamed up to score one of the most aesthetically pleasing goals of the season:
After 20 minutes, it was 1-1 in a game that was destined to open up.
Montreal was ready to take control of the game once the second period began though, as Paul Byron retook the lead after a lack of defensive awareness. Evans flipped the puck to the far blue line, and Jacob Pezzetta whacked it to the middle of the ice where Byron was somehow left all alone on a short breakaway. There was lots of blame to go around with many Senators players on the ice, and it was 2-1 just 2:42 into the period.
Less than two minutes later, Cole Caufield showed us why he was the Hobey Baker winner last year. Caufield has been on fire since St. Louis took over as coach, and tonight he kept the good times rolling. Nick Holden couldn’t keep the puck in off the draw in the offensive zone, and Caufield went flying dangerously down the ice. Although it was another shot you’d like to see Gustavsson have, Caufield has an incredible release. It was 3-1 early in the middle frame.
Ottawa had many more chances after that in the second period, including an Adam Gaudette breakaway that would’ve been a good momentum builder. Alas, Allen was up to the task. Brady Tkachuk took a holding penalty with 1:58 left in the period, which was awful timing just before the final period. The Canadiens took advantage of the powerplay as Joel Armia scored just his third goal of the season. Corey Schueneman’s shot from the point was probably going to be stopped, but Armia’s slight tip put it past Gustavsson to give them a 4-1 lead.
To finish the period, there was an odd moment between Chris Wideman and Josh Norris. I’m sure Wideman wasn’t expecting that shove at all...
Josh Norris showing some frustration in another game that Ottawa really shouldn’t be losing. pic.twitter.com/TY0TGkJ0ud— Everyday Sens (@EverydaySens) March 20, 2022
With just one comeback win after losing after two periods, it wasn’t looking like a comeback was in the books.
Without a goal very early on, any hopes of a comeback were dashed, and then 8:14 into the period, Brett Kulak of all people really put the game to bed. He came off the bench while Nick Suzuki had the puck in the offensive zone, and with the Senators players standing still, Kulak was able to dance around multiple players before scoring a nice goal on Gustavsson. It was just Kulak’s 13th goal of his career, but you’d think he was an offensive dynamo with the way he came flying in.
The rest of the game featured an uninspired Ottawa team going through the motions, with there not much to cheer for. The final score was 5-1 for Montreal, and the Canadiens are now just 6 points back of the Senators. With Thomas Chabot out for the rest of the season, maybe they’ll even pass them.
- It’s too bad that Gustavsson couldn’t have a good start tonight. He’s now lost eight games in a row and has an .886 SV% on the season. He needs to be a lot better if he wants to not be on waivers next season.
- Norris’ season-long run is ridiculous. He’s on pace for 46 goals in a full season, and even with missing 16 games, he’s still on pace for 37 (in 66 GP). Unless he gets injured, he’ll be the first Senator to score 30 goals since Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek did in 2011-12.
- Stützle was a game-time decision yesterday, but in both games it was clear that he was more than ready to go. I wonder what him at 100% would look like.
- Ottawa’s top line of Tkachuk, Norris, and White dominated play as they all had at least 74% corsi.
- It’s quite jarring playing the Canadiens when there are so many players you don’t recognize. Although I guess a lot of people say the same about Ottawa.
- Ottawa had 24 shot attempts to Montreal’s 11 in the second frame yet got outscored 3-0 during that time. Some incredible shots were the reason the Canadiens ended up dominating this game./