How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Senators region: TSN5 (English)
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/Rogers NHL Live
Shall we do that again?
In their first meeting in October, the Canadiens jumped out to 2-0 and 3-1 leads before collapsing and allowing Ottawa to emerge with a 4-3 overtime victory. Tuesday night, when Max Domi capitalized on a defensive zone turnover and a Jonathan Drouin feed to spot the Canadiens a 2-1 lead late in the second period, the team made sure that history would not repeat itself. A rapid-fire brace courtesy of Domi and Artturi Lehkonen spotted the Habs a 4-1 advantage heading into the second intermission, and Brendan Gallagher would all but seal the game with a fifth early in the third period.
Thursday night, the two teams will do it all over again, but this time at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario.
Tale of the Tape
|53.4% (6th)||Corsi-for pct.||43.3% (31st)|
|3.07 (13th)||Goals per game||3.57 (5th)|
|3.21 (20th)||Goals against per game||4.07 (31st)|
|14.6% (29th)||PP%||22.5% (13th)|
|79.1% (16th)||PK%||70.7% (31st)|
Despite the lopsided final score, the game was relatively even up around the midway point of the second period — with the Habs, one of the better possession teams in the league, merely treading water against one of the worst. Domi’s first tally of the night changed all of that, with the Canadiens, despite score effects being against them, posting a +21 shot attempt differential the rest of the way.
The Canadiens managed to victimize the Senators’ first line of Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, and Mark Stone, scoring thrice with the trio on the ice. Although the blazing hot rookie and Mr. Microfracture were caught on for both Domi markers in the second period, the preferred matchup of head coach Claude Julien was actually the David Schlemko-Jeff Petry pairing and the Tomas Tatar-Phillip Danault-Brendan Gallagher line. Schlemko and Petry posted identical +4 and +8 shot attempt differentials against Tkachuk and White, respectively, while Stone managed a -3 against Schlemko and a -5 against Petry.
But although the stands will be swamped with bleu-blanc-et-rouge sweaters on Thursday night, it will not officially be a home game, meaning Guy Boucher will have last change. The 3 on-ice goals against allowed by Tkachuk, White, and Stone can be deceptive, because the trio played reasonably well when facing the Domi line and excelled against the fourth line of Kenny Agostino-Matthew Peca-Michael Chaput. If Boucher can largely avoid Schlemko-Petry and Brett Kulak-Shea Weber while securing more favourable forward matchups for his big guns, we could see a game more befitting the Brady Tkachuk the hockey world has been raving about since the start of the season.
The Habs also need to be aware that their third defence pairing did not match the level of their peers on Tuesday night. Weber’s return, in tandem with Noah Juulsen’s injury, has forced Claude Julien to play Jordie Benn and Mikey Reilly together. Tuesday night, the pairing was overrun by the Senators’ first and third lines, winding up as the only two players on the team to finish with negative shot attempt differentials at 5-on-5 (-2 for Benn, -6 for Reilly). The pair were also demolished by the Senators’ top defenceman Thomas Chabot. Indeed, the 11 5-on-5 shot attempts tallied by the Senators with Chabot on the ice against Reilly and/or Benn on the ice accounted for more than a quarter of the team’s 41 5-on-5 shot attempts for in the game.
A day between games means a day to reflect, rest, and relax, meaning that we should see the same two netminders between the pipes on Thursday night. Craig Anderson didn’t have a fantastic night between the pipes, but given the Habs ability to crash the net and find open looks, it has to be said that he didn’t have much chance. Meanwhile, Carey Price was steady, keeping his team solidly in the game until they found their legs and opened the floodgates. He’ll need to be the same stabilizing force on Thursday night against a Sens team that will be eager to restore some lost pride right out of the gate.