For the first half of the game, it looked like the Ottawa Senators were going to be cleanly manhandled by a veteran-laden Montreal Canadiens squad. Michael Cammalleri put the Habs up 2-0 with goals a few minutes apart in the second period, and few would have been surprised if the snoozefest continued for the rest of the game.
This isn't the Senators of last season, though. This is a team composed of a lot of young kids working pretty darn hard to turn heads, and they mounted an impressive last-half comeback. Sure, the veterans scored the goals, but without the work of Nikita Filatov, Stephane Da Costa, and Jared Cowen in particular, neither Milan Michalek nor Chris Neil would have had their scoring chances.
Sens Hero: Nikita Filatov
The Filatov Cocktail (Ed. Note: nickname thanks to @MathieuGauthier) finished the night with one assist and four shots in barely more than 13 minutes, but we all caught a glimpse of what he's capable of in the last 10 minutes or so of the game. He was zipping around the offensive zone picking up pucks and pressuring opposition defence until he brought the puck around the back of the net and set up Chris Neil for an easy tap-in. Filatov might just be a quick study, but he's making use of added room behind the new shallower nets. (Correction: The shallow nets weren't used in this game, but Filatov seems like he'll like them.) Addendum: Forgot to mention how impressed I was with his backchecking, too, especially early in the game.
Sens Hero: Jared Cowen
Another great game for Cow-Cow (we've got to come up with a better nickname, though). He was strong in the defensive zone once again, but his surprising speed allowed him to get into the play
Sens Hero: Chris Neil
Two pretty easy goals by doing what he does: Driving towards and then putting the puck on net. With five shots on net, you know that Neil is definitely buying in to the Paul MacLean system.
Highlight of the Night: Stephane Da Costa
Incredible rugby-style back-pass by Da Costa to set up Michalek's goal, where he took a look to see where trailer was (take note, Jason Spezza) and then passed at a seemingly impossible angle right onto his stick. Despite the look, neither Carey Price nor any of the three backchecking Habs thought Da Costa could do it. He did. People say that last-minute goals are huge momentum-swingers, and this one seemed to be exactly that.
Sens Killer: Mike Cammalleri
No question here, Cammo was on fire. Score both Habs goals, including a pretty terrific (if lucky) tip that drove a bouncer past Robin Lehner, and a wicked snipe on a clear breakaway.
Honourable mention: Mark Parrish
Not good enough to earn him a spot in Ottawa, but definitely a heck of a game for Parrish tonight. You can see the struggles with speed and skating remain, but Parrish has a tenacity and a drive that got him a couple good scoring chances. He might, mayhaps, get a few games in Ottawa if the injury bug raises its ugly head.
Honourable mention: David Rundblad
Tonight was, without question, Rumball's best game of the pre-season. He was skating well, and I didn't see an instance where jumping up in the play (which he did fairly often) resulted in an odd-man rush. He's still got some growth to do (there were ample giveaways once again tonight), but this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Honourable mention: Robin Lehner
Not everyone will agree, but I think it was a good game for Drago. He allowed two goals to Cammelleri, but he didn't have much of a chance on either of them. More importantly, he bounced back from the second one and didn't give the Habs a sniff afterward, setting the stage (or at least allowing for) the Sens' comeback.
Dishonourable mention: Peter Regin
Wasn't close to zero territory, but Regin looked more like the Regin from 2010-11 (the bad one) and less like the 2011-12 version (the good one) on the game. He still finished with an assist and a +2 rating, but no shots in just under 20 minutes leaves ample room for improvement.