Wednesday night's game between the Senators and the Canadiens may not have held much significance in the standings, but it was a big night for Andrew Hammond. The AHL goalie was given his first start for the Sens against Dustin Tokarski and the Habs.
It didn't take long for this game to see its first injury. Just under one minute in, Alexei Emelin fell awkwardly into the boards and didn't get up for a few minutes. He would leave the game with an upper-body injury.
After handling the puck with some difficulty in the first few minutes, Hammond seemed to shake off the jitters and start to look a little more calm in the net. He had some luck from the goal post as well. Brandon Prust found himself all alone in front of a wide-open net, but luckily for the Sens and Hammond, hit the post instead. That would prove to be a common theme in the first period.
Ottawa would finally get their first scoring chance a few minutes later when Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson rushed the zone. Karlsson fed Ryan the puck in the slot, but Ryan put the puck just wide of the net. The next few minutes saw a number of great chances for the Sens. After a few minutes of solid possession in Montreal's zone, Kyle Turris hit the post off another great shot.
The post would rear its ugly (or beautiful, depending on how you look at it) head once again shortly after, as P.K. Subban hit the iron off a shot from the point. Needless to say, both goalies were grateful to hear that ring a few times in this period.
Both teams exchanged breakaways before the period was up; one for Max Pacioretty and one for Mike Hoffman. But both goalies would get the better of their opponents, and the game remained scoreless after the first 20 minutes.
It looked like Ottawa was going to have another terrible second period, with Montreal outshooting them 9-3 in the first five minutes. Montreal certainly started the period hot, but Ottawa would even things up as the period played out.
Mark Borowiecki took the first penalty of the game, going to the box for holding just over five minutes in. The Sens would then get a short-handed 3-on-1 chance, but Ceci waited too long to make a move and the pass missed its intended target.
The game's first goal finally came at the half-way point of the second period. Milan Michalek scored on a rebound a few seconds after a Montreal penalty expired. However, the glory did not last long for Sens fans, as Max Pacioretty scored just seconds later on a breakaway; his second breakaway of the game.
Things got physical not long after the first two goals. Eric Gryba gave Lars Eller a reminder of their 2013 match-up with an open-ice hit. After that, Brandon Prust and Mark Borowiecki dropped the gloves, and we all remembered just how much these teams don't like each other.
In the final two minutes of the period, Jean-Gabriel Pageau showed how much he loves playing Montreal, scoring off a slap-pass from Erik Karlsson. The period would end with a score of 2-1 for Ottawa.
The third period started out in a fairly quiet fashion in comparison to how the second period ended. After the five-minute mark, Ottawa was forced to kill off a penalty when Erik Condra was called for tripping. They would do so, and quickly be rewarded, as Jacob de la Rose took a penalty for high sticking.
On the power play, Erik Karlsson let a slap shot go from the point, and after a scramble in front of the net, Mark Stone knocked the puck past Tokarski. The goal was reviewed, and subsequently confirmed, making it 3-1 for Ottawa.
This comfortable lead came to an end about five minutes later, when Nathan Beaulieu scored his first NHL goal. His slap shot from the point hit a stick or two and beat Andrew Hammond. This put the Habs within one goal of Ottawa.
Montreal put the pressure on Ottawa in the final minutes of the game, with some great scoring chances on Hammond, who stood tall in his net. With an empty net, the Habs threw on the extra attacker. However Mark Stone was able to get possession of the puck and give it to Kyle Turris, who scored the empty-net goal, and essentially put an end to this game.
Sens Hero: Andrew Hammond
Looking at the scoresheet, it's hard to believe this was Andrew Hammond's first full game in the NHL. He made 42 saves on 44 shots, setting a new record for first-time goalies on the Ottawa Senators. Combined with his .955 SV%, this was a first game to remember for the rookie.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
Simply put, Mark Stone was a beast tonight. With a goal, two assists, four shots and over 20 minutes of play, he was a huge factor in this win. In between all the scoring, he made some great decisions with and without the puck, showing just how much hockey sense this kid has.
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
Erik Karlsson's assist on Stone's goal made this his fourth consecutive multi-point game. He played over 26 minutes, put up two assists and three shots on goal, not to mention the plethora of scoring chances he generated.
Honourable Mention: Milan Michalek
Michalek has certainly stepped up his game recently. With a goal, an assist and seven shots on net, he had a quietly great game for the Sens. He may have been overshadowed by the other stars of the game, but Michalek deserves credit for his efforts tonight.
Sens Killer: Max Pacioretty
He may have only had one goal tonight, but he also had seven shots, at least two of which were clear breakaways. From odd-man rushes to full and partial breakaways, Pacioretty certainly made Hammond's first NHL game a challenge.
Game Flow from Natural Stat Trick:
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