There is a fine line between rest and rust. The Ottawa Senators were on the wrong end of that spectrum, tonight.
After a week-long layoff, the Sens were completely out-played by a Montreal Canadiens team that had seen just one game in the last 10 days. Jake Allen stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced, while the Habs got goals from four different scorers en route to handing the Senators a 4-1 defeat. Filip Gustavsson made 34 saves, and Connor Brown tallied the Sens’ only marker, on a powerplay late in the third.
Defensive zone coverage was an issue for Ottawa all night, and it began with the game’s first goal. Brendan Gallagher threw the puck to the net, and no one picked up Phillip Danault, who had all day to bang the rebound past Gustavsson and open the scoring.
The Senators attempted to return fire, but went into the second period down 1-0, and being outshot 14-11.
Things did not get better from there.
With Ottawa on a powerplay just 48 seconds into the frame, things broke down in their end once again. Four Senators got caught puck-watching, and Paul Byron could not have been more open to receive the Jake Evans pass, and beat Gustavsson with a backhand move.
Down 2-0, this was when the wheels truly began to fall off for the Senators. They looked totally out of sync, unable to generate any sort of offensive cohesion, and turning the puck over constantly. One particularly egregious giveaway by Mike Reilly sent Nick Suzuki in on a breakaway, but Gustavsson stood tall.
Ultimately, the Senators were caved in during the second period, generating a paltry Corsi rating of 32.43%, and being outshot 14-6.
Less than five minutes into the third, Thomas Chabot blindly threw the puck up the ice, and Victor Mete held the line. He fed the puck to Evans, who eventually got it to Corey Perry on the doorstep, padding the Canadiens’ lead to 3-0.
Montreal would make it 4-0 a little after midway point of the third, with the Sens again losing a player in front of the net, and Gallagher made no mistake on a Danault pass.
Connor Brown got one back on a late powerplay, when Allen lost track of the puck on a broken play. Josh Norris fanned on a shot, and Brown capitalized on a fortuitous bounce off the boards.
It would ultimately be too little to late, though, and the Senators found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-1 result.
- This was just a night in which the Senators never got out of the starting gate. They couldn’t defend, they couldn’t generate offence, and they never threatened Montreal at any point. It was just an ugly, snoozefest of an effort all around. Hopefully they kicked off the rust.
- Colin White left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury, and did not return.
- Tim Stützle was absolutely flying tonight. The odd defensive miscue was there, but he was all over the offensive zone, setting up teammates and getting scoring chances of his own. Stützle even showed some edge, taking a few heavy runs at Canadiens players in the corners. He’s getting much more comfortable, and it’s evident.
- Thomas Chabot is really struggling. Maybe he’s hurt, maybe he’s playing too many minutes, but there have been a lot of glaring mistakes this year.
- It’s hard to pin anything on Filip Gustavsson, tonight. He didn’t have a chance on any of the Montreal goals, and was shelled throughout the contest. Write this one off for him.
- Nikita Zaitsev took a Jeff Petry point shot off the hand in the third, and was in some visible distress, even doubled over the bench at one point. Hopefully he’s alright, the Senators can’t afford any losses on the right side of the blue line.
- As we’ve covered extensively, the Sens signed Jacob Bernard-Docker and Shane Pinto to entry-level deals, today. Their seven-day quarantine period begins tomorrow, but if this is how the team is going to play, they can’t be cleared soon enough. The Senators badly needed their energy, tonight./
Up Next: The Sens have a rematch with Montreal on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pmEST.