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Canadiens vs. Senators game recap: An entertaining end to the pre-season

The pre-season ends with a shootout loss, and the regular season is now less than a week away.

NHL: Preseason-Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

At long last, the Montreal Canadiens entered the end of their pre-season schedule with a third game against the Ottawa Senators. The Canadiens rolled out something close to an opening-night roster as they could, with the notable omissions being the still-injured Mike Hoffman and Joel Edmundson, in addition to the late scratch of Jonathan Drouin with an illness.

Taking Drouin’s spot on the second line was Artturi Lehkonen, while the rest of the lineup from the morning skate remained the same. It was a crucial game for Ryan Poehling and Jesse Ylönen as they looked to try to secure one of the few remaining spots on the NHL roster. Jake Allen took the net as the starter while Anton Forsberg started for the Sens.

Montreal rocketed out of the gate to start, taking a lead barely 10 seconds after the puck dropped. Off the opening draw the puck came to Alexander Romanov, who fired a pass to Lehkonen in the neutral zone, and the Finn bumped it back to Josh Anderson who was barreling ahead with speed. Anderson blew by the Ottawa defence to get in alone on Forsberg, and the Powerhorse ripped the shot right by the goalie to put the Habs up early.

It wasn’t long before Montreal added to that lead. After drawing a penalty and sending Allen to the bench for an extra attacker, Montreal tacked on another goal in the opening four minutes. The Habs set up in an impromptu power-play formation, in which Tyler Toffoli picked out Jeff Petry with a perfect cross-zone pass, and Petry powered it through Forsberg to double the Montreal advantage.

Ottawa drew a hooking call against David Savard, sending them to their first power play of the evening. Through the opening moments, the Habs penalty-killers and Allen looked outstanding, making big saves and timely clears. However, on a scramble around the net, Allen lost his goal stick and the Senators took advantage by feeding the puck over to Josh Norris, who blasted a goal short-side to draw Ottawa within a goal.

Both sides traded chances as the period neared its conclusion, but neither side found another goal before its end, however Ottawa did manage to grab a late power play as Christian Dvorak headed to the box.

The Habs killed nearly all of the remaining time on Dvorak’s minor to start the second, but Shane Pinto muscled his way around Alexander Romanov to score an outstanding goal and tie the game up once again.

It wasn’t long before Ottawa drew another chance to run their man advantage as David Savard took another seat in the penalty box. He was allowed before his two minutes were up as Alex Belzile misread his coverage and missed Ryan Poehling with his pass. This allowed Norris a wide-open shot, and he had no problem blistering his second goal of the night to put Ottawa in the lead.

The penalty troubles continued from there, with Poehling drawing blood with an errant stick to put Ottawa on a four-minute power play. Montreal had killed most of the double minor when Joel Armia flung a puck out of play, leading to a five-on-three situation. The penalty-killers handled it well, and that in turn led a Ryan Poehling breakaway. That chance was stonewalled by Anton Forsberg, who was then bumped by Christian Dvorak, causing a large kerfuffle.

When it was all sorted out, Montreal had an abbreviated power play thanks to Norris drawing a double minor for roughing. The Habs had a few looks, namely Cole Caufield streaking in alone, but Forsberg was equal to the task to keep Ottawa’s one-goal lead intact as the period entered its second half.

The visitors tacked on one more goal before the period ended as Tim Stützle threw a pass into Allen’s skates that Chris Tierney appeared to poke home. Allen and the Canadiens weren’t as sure, and despite a review without conclusive proof that it had crossed the line, the officials said it was a good goal.

Montreal’s penalty killers had the take to the ice to start the third period after a last-second call in the middle frame, and they did exactly what they needed to, keeping Ottawa off the board, and then drawing a penalty of their own right after. On that power play it took mere seconds for the Canadiens to find the back of the net. The draw was won back to Petry who teed up a one-timer for Caufield that found a hole through Anton Forsberg, but edned up hitting the post. Nick Suzuki threw himself into the crease to poke the loose puck home, and to draw the Habs within a goal.

The Canadiens took the momentum from Suzuki’s goal and started to find the cycle and possession game that served them so well during the playoffs. As the lines rolled over Ottawa, they could not find a tying goal as the clock ticked closer and closer to the final horn.

That breakthrough finally came from the stick of Petry. Toffoli laid a puck off for the Habs blue-liner and Petry walked the point before uncorking a wicked shot through a double screen that Forsberg had no chance of seeing through.

Petry’s goal also meant overtime, with absolutely nothing but bragging rights on the line for both teams. Overtime was an end to end affair as expected, with Norris making a key check to deny Caufield on a breakaway, while Allen was sharp to deny the Senators around his crease. A late penalty on the Senators gave Montreal a chance to beat the buzzer in OT, but despite two chances, they were bested by the horn both prematurely and then for real as the last pre-season game went to a shootout.

The first three rounds passed by without a goal being scored before Armia and Connor Brown each tallied one in the fourth. Toffoli was denied by Forsberg, and Norris bested Allen to give Ottawa the win to cap off the pre-season.

Final Score: Ottawa 5, Montreal 4 (SO)

Montreal now will make their final roster cuts and prepare for their regular season to begin on Wednesday, October 13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.