The second period of death returned, and with it, any hopes of the Sens winning three straight games for the second time this season was dashed.
The game started off pretty even, with a slight edge going to the Habs in the opening frame. Noted Habs slayer, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, had a chance in the game’s opening minute but missed high on Carey Price. Later on, Charles Hudon had a glorious chance blocked by Mark Borowiecki, and the trio of Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, and Joe Morrow generated opportunities on Mike Condon after beating the Sens with effort down low on the forecheck.
There was a period of 4-on-4 action, with Hoffman getting called for embelishing an Artturi Lehkonen hook that the Senators bench wasn’t happy with, but not much came of it. Shots ended in favour of the Senators, 10-7.
The second period was one of the worst the Sens have played this season, and somehow, wasn’t even the worst in terms of shot metrics in the last 24 hours given yesterday’s dismal third against the Flyers. When the dust settled, the Sens were out-attempted 27-8, outshot 17-5, outchanced 15-1 (all at 5-on-5), and importantly, outscored 3-1.
The period started on a rough note, with Dion Phaneuf hemmed into his own end for a 90 second segment that featured many aggressive swings and misses. The Habs nearly scored twice on the play, but Cody Ceci defended Nikita Scherbak well and Charles Hudon’s pass to Paul Byron was stopped.
The Senators responded with a gift-wrapped goal (a rarity this season!) after a D-to-D pass was flubbed, leading to the puck ending up right on Hoffman’s stick. The best shooter on the team, Hoffman made no mistake potting it high past Price to give the Sens a 1-0 lead.
The Sens almost scored another off a Mark Borowiecki short-side chance that came off a Karlsson stretch pass to Brassard and some nice board work from Chris DiDomenico. Unfortunately for Ottawa, outside of another wonderful Erik Karlsson shift in the middle of the period, that was it in terms of the offence — and the positives.
After Mark Borowiecki took a necessary hooking penalty to stop Drouin and Galchenyuk’s surge of offence, Karlsson tried to pivot to his right and had his stick come up and clip Drouin, leading to double-minor and an extended 5-on-3. Jeff Petry made quick work of the two-player advantage, potting his third goal in two games with a bomb from the right point.
With still 3:50 left in the Karlsson double-minor, the Sens PK can’t even get the Habs down to the two minute mark without giving up a goal. This time, Lehkonen gets a pass from Scherbak and Mete — three young players on the powerplay at the same time (!) — and scores on a turnaround shot in front of Condon that he can’t squeeze short-side.
With the game at 2-1 and back to 5-on-5 play, the Sens are unable to generate much offence in the Habs zone. There are times where they get zone time, especially with DiDomenico on the ice, but generally keep the puck along the boards instead of firing pucks towards Carey Price — who finished the game with 25 saves.
Instead, it’s Lehkonen who doubles the Habs lead in the last two minutes of the period. Brendan Gallagher, a pest all night with Pacioretty and Lehkonen, funnels the puck from the point towards Condon. The Sens netminder is able to make the initial stop, but gets beat by a crashing Lekhonen after Tomas Plekanec sends the puck back towards the goalmouth. In a “reverse Pageau” kind of way, all four of the Finn’s goals this season have been scored against the Senators.
The third period was sloppy, with a ton of whistles — including five icings in the first four minutes — that limited Ottawa’s attempts to get momentum turning their way. Zack Smith, who played a team-high 17:42 among forwards, found himself alongside Duchene and White for a couple shifts and they generated a couple of attempts. Moreoever, Smith drew a slashing penalty on Gallagher for the Sens’ first (and only) powerplay of the contest, but the first unit had trouble setting up. They did get two shots on goal — two one-timers from DiDo (!) — but were boxed out by the Habs. The closest Ottawa came to a goal was when Karlsson had a shot glance off Petry’s skate and onto Price, but the Canadiens goaltender managed to get his left toe on it to make the save.
The end of the game featured a learning moment for Thomas Chabot, who went to make an innocent D-to-D pass (much like Ottawa’s lone goal of the game), but had the puck flip on him and land right on Plekanec’s stick. The Czech forward made no mistake potting it glove side on Condon, who wasn’t ready, and sealed the 4-1 win for Montreal. Both Condon and Derick Brassard made visible gestures to Chabot to let him know “hey, it happens” and Guy Boucher even put him right back out there on the next shift.
Though these two teams look close in the standings in terms of points, this matchup wasn’t close. The Sens were lucky to generate a goal given their lack of offence, and Montreal’s four goals seems fair to a team that just looked faster all night. With the loss, the Sens look like near locks for a top-five pick in the upcoming draft — firmly cemented into the third spot at the moment.
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