The Montreal Canadiens played last night, and it was obvious from the jump. They were thoroughly outplayed, outshot 38-23, and outscored 6-2. Tim Stützle led the way for the Sens with a goal and two assists, while Brady Tkachuk, Artem Zub, and Parker Kelly (!!) all put up two points in a dominant victory.
The scoring opened off a great shift by Brady Tkachuk. He first finished a hard check on Mike Matheson, but then declined to stick around shove about it. The Habs went the other way, and Sean Monahan put it off the crossbar. Then the puck went the other way, and Brady decided to shoot on the 2-on-1 and squeaked it through Cayden Primeau.
The Habs struggled to get any shots on goal, and so the next goal was also Ottawa's, on another 2-on-1 where the puck-carrier decided to shoot. Of note, it was Tim Stützle, who had gone 10 games without a goal and had been forcing a lot of passes when he should've shot recently, at least to my eyes.
Sadly, the Habs' first shot in 10 minutes then went in, a Cole Caufield attempt that hit Korpisalo's glove and then slowly floated into the net behind him. It gave the Habs life in a period in which they looked every bit a team that played the night before. Was that a bad goal? Kind of! Did it bring back bad memories? Yes! Did it decide the outcome of the game? Thankfully not!
After outshooting the Habs 16-6 in the first, the second started the same, with the Sens racing out to a 6-1 lead in shots. Midway through the period, the Sens' pressure turned into another goal, this time with Rourke Chartier shovelling home a rebound in front.
The Sens killed off the game's first penalty, a phantom call against Erik Brännström, and then right after, Vladimir Tarasenko scored a goal that he looked super happy to have converted.
They also scored a shorthanded goal with 15 seconds left, but it was disallowed because Parker Kelly pretty much sat on Cayden Primeau. Goalie interference was the right call, but it was funny to watch Primeau make no effort to play the puck at all, so I wanted to see it stand anyway.
The third opened with Stützle executing a gorgeous deke to set up Mathieu Joseph for a goal. Seriously, it was a thing of beauty.
The Habs then decided to run Joonas Korpisalo twice in quick succession, so the refs gave the Sens a powerplay. It was starting to feel like Montreal was done playing hockey and just wanted to play dumb message-sending. The penalty seemed to smarten them up though, and instead they just started playing to not allow another goal. Oddly, with 8 minutes left, Martin St. Louis pulled the goal after offsetting minors put the teams at 4-on-4, but Ottawa got possession relatively quickly, and Jake Sanderson patiently set up Parker Kelly who got to centre and then waited for an open shot on the empty net. Usually an empty netter wraps up play, but this one still had 7 minutes left, which felt weird. A few minutes later, a series of poor defensive plays gave Michael Pezzetta a chance to score a goal for the bad guys from the high slot. A late powerplay for Ottawa gave Jacques Martin the chance to put out the 3rd D-pairing with the 4th line for some weird-looking powerplay minutes. And that did it for a game that felt over for its final 30 minutes; a delightful win.
- I'm not the biggest Jacob Bernard-Docker fan (of his play; he's such a good dude I'd love to see him actually improve to become an NHL player), but it's undeniable the Sens played better with him in the lineup over Travis Hamonic. Ideally we'd have at least six NHL-calibre defencemen, but this was improvement.
- When Stützle is feeling it, he's almost unstoppable. He was dancing through guys tonight, and taking the shot over the pass for the first time in what feels like weeks. Great to see his confidence back because he needs it.
- Thomas Chabot made some nice defensive plays tonight, boxing guys out and using his body to force turnovers. I know Chabot and Chychrun both can play high-risk games, but these are guys who turn out as net-positives when they're on the ice. I don't get the dislike of either one.
- There was a moment early in the first PK, when the four players passed it between them before clearing it. It was subtle, but it showed that the players knew where each other were going to be. That's an enormous improvement versus even a few games ago. Maybe they're slowly building defensive structure?
- Artem Zub quietly has 5 assists in 3 games. I consider that good, especially for a defenceman.