How to watch
The Montreal Canadiens found the Ottawa Senators to be a much tougher opponent on Tuesday night than they had been back on March 19. The Habs came out playing well, but the Senators matched their level, and it made for an entertaining game at the Bell Centre. Ottawa proved to be the better team in the final period after an even 40 minutes, getting a power-play goal early, earning a two-goal lead halfway through, and clinching the game with an empty-netter.
There was one big positive in the game for Montreal as Justin Barron scored his first NHL goal; not some flukey flubbed attempt from the blue line, but the result of him showing off his mobility by sliding across the blue line, advancing deeper into the zone, and wiring a shot off the post and in. It was a proper display of his offensive talents and a glimpse of what he could bring to the team consistently once he develops some more.
Unfortunately, he won’t have a chance to add to his career goal tally tonight because he remained in Montreal, along with Paul Byron, dealing with some ailment that kept him out of practice yesterday.
Taking Barron’s seat on the plane was Carey Price, who is traveling with the team on the two-game excursion to New Jersey and Toronto. He won’t play in either game, but he’ll at least get the experience of being with the team, and is still expected to take the crease at some point in the 10 games that will remain after this weekend.
Tale of the Tape
|45.0% (30th)||Scoring-chances-for %||52.2% (11th)|
|2.54 (31st)||Goals per game||3.01 (17th)|
|3.80 (31st)||Goals against per game||3.67 (29th)|
|13.7% (31st)||PP%||17.4% (26th)|
|74.0% (29th)||PK%||80.2% (14th)|
The New Jersey Devils’ goaltending issues were detailed in the preview for the game played just 10 days ago at Prudential Center. Since then, former Canadiens goaltender Andrew Hammond was given a start, versus the Florida Panthers, and carried a 6-2 lead into the final period. He quickly learned that four-goal deficits don’t faze the Panthers this season, and while it’s hard to blame Hammond for allowing the comeback effort of five unanswered goals when he’s far from the only goalie mauled by the Panthers, head coach Lindy Ruff has no such qualms, not playing him since.
Of greater concern is the loss of the team’s best player, Jack Hughes, for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. He had goals in four straight games and was on pace to hit 30 for the first time in his career before he was knocked out of a game versus the New York Islanders. Winning was difficult enough for the team, which has just two victories in its last 11 games, and now it’s going to be very tough for the Devils to outscore their opponents.
That means the Canadiens have a new challenger for the first overall pick. The Devils are tumbling down the order with their eyes on claiming the top selection in the NHL Draft for a third time in six years, and are virtually guaranteed a fourth consecutive top-10 pick.
To stave them off, Montreal would need a similar effort to what they had to begin the last game, when it didn’t seem like they were interested in playing the game at all, falling in a hole thanks to two goals from Hughes during his scoring tear. That impression never really changed until the third period when they decided they’d like to get a point after all, and Rem Pitlick grabbed it with a goal in the final minute. After 14 players tested the goaltenders in a shootout, the Devils claimed the second point of the night, and that’s the difference between the gap in the standings being just three points or the five that it currently is.