After winning their last three games, the Montreal Canadiens hoped to extend their winning streak with a win over Ottawa. However, after the Sens set the pace with a first goal period, it became evident that the Sens have grown as a team.
The Ottawa Senators began the 2020/21 season with a 2-12-1 record and watched as their losses saw them drop to the lowest standings for the North Division. Yet, after Ottawa coach D.J. Smith opted to make some line changes, the results paid off with a 6-3 victory for Ottawa over the Canadiens.
“Earlier in the year, that game’s going to overtime probably. There would have been panic, but there was no panic on the bench on Saturday. The guys just seemed so much calmer. They were looking to make plays; they were holding onto pucks. It was great to see.”
The new line change saw Smith bringing together Artem Anisimov, Evgenii Dadonov, and Alex Formenton. The result saw two goals coming from Evgenii Dadonov while Anisimov and Formenton each earned assists.
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Also scoring for Ottawa was Drake Batherson, Connor Brown, and Brady Tkachuk, the later of which scored on an empty net in the closing seconds of the third period. Dominique Ducharme, the head coach for the Montreal Canadiens commented post-game stating that,
“Tonight, we were just not sharp. We didn’t play a solid game. On the other side, they played better.”
While the Sens and Montreal Canadiens battled back and forth with both scoring in the first and second, Ottawa had the edge going into the third. Montreal’s Josh Anderson had moments of brilliance scoring two goals for the Canadians. After being on the injured list for the last games, Tyler Toffoli returned to the Canadiens line up and scored his nineteenth of the season.
Ottawa’s latest acquisition from Winnipeg, Anton Forsberg jumped into the action with his second start for the Canadiens, while Montreal’s Carey Price was hoping to earn his 50th shutout. The addition to their line up is one coach D.J. Smith is pleased with, as evident by his comments post-game when asked about Forsberg’s performance.
“He gave us every chance. … The kid’s really focused and you’ve got to be happy for him. He battled for us.”
After a tough second period that saw Montreal fall behind by two, they managed to shorten Ottawa’s lead to 4-3, and while the third was a hard-fought victory for the Sens. However, Montreal earned respect from Josh Anderson, who stated,
“They’re a hard-working team. … They’re well-coached,” said Anderson. “They’ve got some young guys in there that just work hard every shift and they just reload and they just work really well together as a team. Obviously tonight wasn’t our best performance.”
With five minutes remaining on the scoreboard, Montreal was down by two points against Ottawa and had several scoring opportunities. However, as the third period went into the final minutes of play and Montreal down 5-3, Dominique Ducharme waved in Price. With an empty net, it didn’t take the Sens long to tap in their 6th and end the night with their first win since the 25th of last month.
While they had won their previous three, Montreal seemed slow to the start after being off for nine days due to Covid-19 protocols in Ottawa. However, the Sens were not affected by the protocols and analysis’s are suggesting this gave them time to fine-tune the less experienced and younger Sens.