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Canadiens @ Senators: Game preview, start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch

The run of Atlantic Division opponents continues on the road.

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens @ Ottawa Senators

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet East/Ontario/Pacific (English), TVA Sports (French)
Streaming: ESPN+, Sportsnet Now

Game 49 of the Montreal Canadiens’ season was dominated by the player wearing that number. Rafaël Harvey-Pinard had looked good since his arrival from the Laval Rocket, but he took that up a notch in a game that could have easily seen a letdown from the team following two big rivalry duels. It started with a kick of the puck to Michael Pezzetta in the first period for Montreal’s first goal. He was then personally responsible for tying up the game on two separate occasions in the second period, one while he was playing penalty-kill minutes with Kirby Dach.

It was all fourth-line players (we probably should promote their status at this point) who accounted for the three goals in regulation, helping the Canadiens take another point on the homestand, which ended with a 2-2-1 record. Since that long losing streak that had several of the veterans adamant that the team’s play would improve, the Habs have points in six of the 11 games.

That has all come at a cost, however. One of the reasons why Harvey-Pinard is up in the first place is because one of those veterans who vowed improvement, Brendan Gallagher, could no longer hold all of his pieces together to play. There is of course the crushing loss of Cole Caufield to season-ending shoulder surgery. And versus the Detroit Red Wings, the Canadiens lost Joel Edmundson to what some are speculating is another back injury, and also saw Christian Dvorak forced to leave the game for several shifts in the opening period.

With Dvorak now ailing, and Dach and Nick Suzuki avoiding practices while they deal with lingering issues of their own, the Canadiens have made the rare move to use an emergency recall on a Junior player. That means tonight’s game in Kanata versus the Ottawa Senators will be all about the debut of #62, Owen Beck.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Senators
Canadiens Statistics Senators
20-25-4 Record 22-23-3
43.9% (29th) Scoring-chances-for % 52.1% (10th)
2.57 (30th) Goals per game 2.92 (24th)
3.65 (28th) Goals against per game 3.23 (20th)
15.1% (32nd) PP% 26.2% (4th)
73.6% (29th) PK% 80.8% (12th)
0-1-0 H2H Record 1-0-0

The situation is a familiar one for Beck. At the first of this month he was also called up as an injury replacement to Canada’s National Junior Team when Colton Dach, Kirby’s brother, went down with a shoulder injury. There will be no gold medal at the end of this recall, but it will serve as a great audition in a proper NHL game as he aims to earn a permanent role with the Canadiens in the fall.

We’re seeing some of the quality of Montreal’s depth in the pipeline, but the Senators are really struggling to put a competitive lineup on the ice. They’ve been dealt a major blow of their own as Josh Norris will also miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery, news made all the more difficult considering he had just returned after a long period of recovery for that issue.

There are several great offensive players at the top of the lineup that Ottawa has amassed through drafting and transactions in the off-season, but their current bottom-six options are unable to keep up. After Brady Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, Claude Giroux, Drake Batherson, and Alex DeBrincat — their top five scorers in descending order — the next best forward is Shane Pinto, who’s scoring at a 0.42 points-per-game rate. That’s essentially what Josh Anderson has produced this season as Montreal’s sixth-ranked forward, and we know all about the Habs’ issues finding the net.

Unlike the Canadiens who rarely win the possession battle, the Senators are very good at generating opportunities, ranking 10th in scoring-chance share at five-on-five. Their shooting percentage at full strength is a paltry 6.24%, nearly a full percentage point behind the 31st ranked Anaheim Ducks (7.12%).

When they can exclusively use their top options, they can do plenty of damage. Ottawa holds the fourth-best power play in the NHL, converting at a rate better than once every four power plays.

Ottawa has been held to one goal or less five times in January, but last night had a rare offensive explosion versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators only needed one goal on the man advantage (this one from Derick Brassard) to embarrass the Leafs by a 6-2 score on their own rink. Not surprisingly, four of those goals came from the five forwards previously mentioned.

If Montreal intends to keep its run of close results going, the team has to limit the offence of the top of Ottawa’s lineup. It will be a good chance for Beck to show the defensive skills that got him drafted with the first pick of the second round last July, and he may even join Harvey-Pinard with some time on the penalty kill. If he can avoid being hemmed in his own zone as the Senators often do to opponents, it will leave a good impression on the management staff that decided to give him this shot.