Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario (English), TVA Sports (French)
In the U.S.: NHL Network
Streaming: ESPN+, RDS Direct, TSN+
In this season that has seen the Montreal Canadiens outplayed by several opponents, few have given them as much trouble as the Ottawa Senators. It began in the pre-season when Ottawa took all four games between the teams, each by a single goal. That carried over into the regular season, where the Senators have taken the first three games.
The first loss came on December 12, when the Canadiens mounted a comeback after surrendering three goals in the second period, but tallies from Kirby Dach and Christian Dvorak weren’t enough to get the job done. The middle two games of the series came at the end of January, first a 5-0 loss, and the latest one by a closer score of 5-4.
Tale of the Tape
|44.2% (28th)||Scoring-chances-for %||51.2% (14th)|
|2.71 (27th)||Goals per game||2.98 (21st)|
|3.60 (27th)||Goals against per game||3.21 (18th)|
|17.1% (28th)||PP%||25.1% (6th)|
|73.6% (28th)||PK%||82.0% (8th)|
Montreal has a couple of things going in its favour for tonight’s finale. First of all, the Habs won’t be wearing the Reverse Retro jerseys that they were in the last meeting on January 31, a jersey in which they won just once. Secondly, they’ve built up a head of steam for this match, coming in having won five of their last seven games in their best run of results all year long.
The latest win was a concerted effort versus the Philadelphia Flyers, who showed little interest in getting the win save for a few minutes of play in the third period following what we can only assume were some loud words from John Tortorella. It was once again a big game on offence for the Habs, who have now scored at least four goals in six of their last eight matches.
One of the goal-scorers was Chris Tierney, who had just been claimed off waivers the day before. Should he remain in the lineup for this game, he’ll be taking on the team he spent the previous four seasons with. The Senators decided he wasn’t going to be part of the roster in a year they felt they would be competitive, so he’ll have his own motivation for this game.
The Senators recently made another roster decision with their future in mind, sending Nikita Zaitsev and his sizable contract to the Chicago Blackhawks. However, they had to include their 2023 second-round pick and fourth-rounder from 2026 to make the deal happen. The move makes them a bit nimbler for off-season moves as they hope an addition or two and a full season of Josh Norris’s play will finally get them back into the post-season for the first time since 2017.
The 18 minutes or so of ice time that Zaitsev had been playing recently will instead go to other defencemen, and Thomas Chabot has no room to take on any more. Bigger roles should be one the way for Erik Brannstrom and 2020 first-rounder Jake Sanderson. Like Montreal, the Senators are in the market for a right-shot blue-liner to complement their stable of talent on the left, so this divisional rivalry may extend beyond the final game of the year as Kent Hughes and Pierre Dorion compete for the same players.