Rabid Habs

The Almighty Sens

Sens vs Habs

“Whenever you’re facing a guy in that type of situation, you need to shoot as often as possible and hope to get an early goal. Getting shots on goal will keep him on edge and we need to find a way to do that tonight.” – Max Pacioretty

While wrapping up their short two-game road trip, the Montreal Canadiens would be looking for a second road win against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. On Monday, Therrien’s troops beat the Detroit Red Wings for the third time this season at the Joe Louis Arena in a two to nothing win which came late in the third. Monday’s win also saw goaltender Carey Price earn his 32nd win of the season and his fifth shutout of the 2014-15 campaign and the 30th shutout of his career, surpassing Patrick Roy for fifth place on the all-time list in team history. Wednesday night’s game would mark the third time the Habs would be meeting the Senators since January 15th, when the Canadiens lost four to one in Ottawa. Although the Habs have won two games in a row, it’s questionable whether or not the Canadiens could keep their winning streak going when facing a team who sits sixth in the Atlantic Division and 23rd overall in the league. Now, here’s what you should know about tonight’s game.

The Montreal Canadiens are ranked fourth in the NHL with a 85.4% penalty kill efficiency and they have not only found success in protecting their own defensive zone this season, but have also been able to create scoring chances even when down a man thanks to strong players like Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec. However, the Habs are still having trouble finding the back of the opposition net, ranking 22nd in goals scored with an average of 2.57 a game. There has been an offensive struggle coming from the bottom two lines. The Canadiens are also facing line up changes as Jiri Sekac will be back in the line up replacing Manny Malhotra, Dustin Tokarski will be getting his 12th start of the season by taking Price’s place between the pipes, and newcomer Greg Pateryn (who has already racked up 34 points this season with the Hamilton Bulldogs) will be making his first NHL appearance by replacing Mike Weaver and being paired up with Nathan Beaulieu. As for the Ottawa Senators, they lossed six to three against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, with Erik Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad registered two points each in the loss. With goaltender Robin Lehner out of tonight’s game due to a violent collision with Clarke MacArthur in the second period and caused them to not return for the remainder of the game, back up Andrew Hammond would be making the first start of his NHL career tonight. MacArthur would also be absent for the game. With that said, The Senators, who are 22-23-10, behind the Habs by 24 points in the standings and are 10 points out of a playoff spot, but the Habs can’t afford to lose to another team who sits near the bottom of the league and pass up the points up for grabs. The Canadiens would once again have to play the full 60 minutes and keep a solid defensive and offensive team if they wanted put pucks past the down and out Senators.

27 seconds into the first period and the Canadiens were already down one defenseman as Alexei Emelin lost his balanced after being tapped and went shoulder first into the boards, with P.K. Subban coming to the rescue and playing ten minutes and 40 seconds. The Habs were getting physical while testing Sens goaltender Andrew Hammond early with shots from outside the forecheck. There was a lot of great opportunities for the Habs to put pucks past Hammond, including a great chance for Brandon Prust to put the puck behind the open net but instead sent it to the post. Dustin Tokarski (with defensive help) stood strong between the pipes as the Senators took 28 shot attempts at the Montreal net. However, despite the pressure and speed coming from both sides of the ice, the period ended scoreless and with the shots being 14-13 in favour of Ottawa.

The Canadiens, despite a great effort from the offense, were still struggling to put pucks in the Ottawa net (including Tom Gilbert’s wide open misfire) while the Senators were making sure to keep the pucks all the way down in the Montreal zone, effectively killing the Habs’ first power play. Only eight minutes and 34 seconds left of the second period and the Ottawa Senators got their first goal of the night thanks to Milan Michalek (assisted by Mike Hoffman). However, just eight seconds after the Sens goal, Max ‘American Sniper’ Pacioretty (assisted by Andrei Markov and Greg Pateryn) cut right through the middle of a two on one (breakaway) and gave the Canadiens their first goal of the night and turned a one to nothing period into a tie. The game had gotten more physical than it had been in the first, with Lars Eller escaping an Eric Gryba elbow to the face, Brandon Prust getting the worst of the fight with Mark Borowiecki, and P.K. Subban’s blocked shot on a Senators powerplay causing a foot injury. The Habs were getting beat down despite out shooting the Sens (17-15) and while they fought hard, it just seemed impossible to stop Jean-Gabriel Pageau who gave the Senators their second goal of the night with one minute and 47 seconds left (assisted by Erik Karlsson and Erik Condra), leaving the second period with a two to one lead for the Sens.

A power play goal for Ottawa with ten minutes and and 33 seconds into the third period took into effect thanks to Mark Stone (assisted by Erik Karlsson and Milan Michalek). After a long and hard battle for the puck, Nathan Beaulieu (assisted by P.K. Subban and Michael Bournival) gave the Habs the second goal they needed with five minutes and 35 seconds left of the period. With the Canadiens now having a chance to tie up the game, the Habs were bringing on the pressure while the Sens were still playing on the aggressive train. However, the Senators got their fourth goal of the night on an empty net from Kyle Turris with only one minute and 31 seconds left. Despite a real hard fight from the Montreal Canadiens, they just couldn’t stop the Ottawa Senators from claiming victory and the Canadiens suffered a four to two loss.

Here are my thoughts about tonight’s game.

  • The Montreal Canadiens, despite being down two defenseman, played exceptionally well tonight. Despite the dirty hits from the Ottawa Senators, the Habs fought back hard and that’s the Canadiens we know; the ones that don’t give up after two periods. Also, FIRST NHL GOAL FOR NATHAN BEAULIEU. THANK YOU NATE DOG!
  • There’s so much ‘hatred’ towards Dustin Tokarski because “he’s not Carey Price.” That’s right, he’s not Carey Price because he’s the back-up goalie and this was his 12th start of the season. His save percentage (before tonight’s game) was .914 while Price’s save percentage is .935. Tokarski has 328 saves while Price has 1,247. Tokarski hasn’t had as much ice time as Price and while that’s not a bad thing, it’s certainly no excuse to claim that ‘Ticker’ is the worst goalie in the world. I personally thought he played okay tonight.
  • What did you guys think of Greg Pateryn? IMO I thought he did all right for his NHL debut (first assist is not too bad) and looked great out there on the ice. Tweet me what you think.

The Montreal Canadiens play the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre on Wednesday at 7:30pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.