Senators score three in third to trip Canadiens 5-2
MONTREAL — After a difficult 4-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, the Ottawa Senators saved their best for last.
Tied 2-2 in the second period on Saturday, the Senators scored three goals in the final frame en route to a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Derick Brassard scored one goal and added an assist. Shane Pinto, Austin Watson, Jake Sanderson and Julien Gauthier added goals for Ottawa (28-26-4) as they swept their four-game season series with the Habs.
“Sometimes you're a little tired mentally on the back-to-back and you gotta reset, but that's why there's three periods,” said Mathieu Joseph of the Senators. “I thought we had a good talk in the third, we showed up and the boys delivered.”
Mads Sogaard made 29 saves and collected his first career assist as the Sens snapped a two-game losing skid.
“He was great,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “We shouldn't have given him that many opportunities, but in saying that, that's why you have a goalie. And clearly, he's calm and he's doing his thing.”
Ottawa can also thank their depth scoring. In the three previous games against Montreal, the top six of Pinto, Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Drake Batherson scored 11 of their 13 goals. On Saturday, Ottawa’s bottom-six collected three of the five goals.
“We haven't had a ton of it,” Smith said. “Watson gets one tonight, (Michael Pezzetta) comes out to get him in a fight, takes care of that and he scores, that's clearly a big difference for us.
“(Brassard) scored and then Gauthier gets one. We haven't had a ton of that and that's what teams need this time of year.”
Nick Suzuki of the Canadiens reached the 20-goal mark for the second time of his career. Mike Matheson added a goal as Montreal (25-29-4) had their two-game win streak snapped.
Sam Montembeault made 17 saves.
“I liked our game but I didn’t like the result,” said Habs coach Martin St. Louis. “It just kind of got away from us in the third. Not so much structurally, just missed assignments.
“First two periods, I thought we were outplaying them so obviously it wasn’t a 5-2 game.”
Despite only shooting five times on Montembeault in the opening frame, Ottawa scored first. Brassard broke the ice for Ottawa at 15:12 when he redirected Nick Holden’s shot from the blue line.
Matheson pierced the offensive zone from his own blue line and grabbed his own rebound before levelling the score with his fourth goal of the season.
Montreal took its first lead of the night at 8:46 when Johnathan Kovacevic’s stretch pass created a breakaway for Suzuki. The captain waited for Sogaard to make the first move then beat the Ottawa netminder.
DeBrincat missed a backhand shot from point-blank range but redeemed himself by finding Pinto in front of the net with a centring pass. The 22-year-old tapped the puck in to tie the game 2-2.
The Senators regained the lead with two goals early in the final frame. After fighting Pezzetta in the first period, Austin Watson redirected Travis Hamonic’s shot from the point.
Batherson then added Ottawa’s fourth goal 47 seconds later by using Jordan Harris as a screen for his wrister from the high slot.
Ottawa sealed the win at 11:57 when Pointe-Aux-Trembles, Que., native Gauthier beat Montembeault to score his first as a Sen with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.
“I did score a few against him in juniors,” Gauthier said with a grin. “Samuel is doing a great job with the Canadiens right now. I just saw a good angle, had a good shot and got in.”
“What a shot,” Joseph added. “He's got a really good release and as confidence builds, I think he's going to be able to score a lot of goals in this league. It's been fun to play with him and I was there firsthand to see it.”
The Canadiens announced that defenceman Arber Xhekaj will undergo season-ending right shoulder surgery. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Peter Millet, the same surgeon who performed Cole Caufield's shoulder surgery on Feb. 1.
The Canadiens also announced that defenceman Joel Edmundson will travel with the team for their four-game western road trip. He is expected at practice on Monday.
Forwards Kirby Dach and Joel Armia will not be travelling with the team.
DEBRINCAT VS. MONTREAL
Senators forward Alex DeBrincat has his way against the Canadiens. Since joining the Sens via trade at the 2022 NHL entry draft, DeBrincat has scored two goals and added four assists in four games against the Habs.
The Canadiens visit the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
The Senators will host the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2023.
Tristan D’Amours, The Canadian Press