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Bottom Six Minutes: Habs have a great tank night in Ottawa

Apr 13, 2024; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens right wing Cole Caufield (22) celebrates with team his goal scored the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night’s final meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators was undeniably entertaining. They took things all the way to the shootout, giving fans in the crowd – who know full well their teams are soon to hit the golf courses – something to cheer about.

In many ways, it was about as perfect of a tank game as the Canadiens could hope for.

Sure, their draft lottery hopes could do without the consolation point for getting to overtime, but they remain in fifth-last even with that point. If they were to just lose games in regulation with no redeeming qualities to those games, there wouldn’t be much to give hope for better results next season. For instance, Cole Caufield heating up at the end of the year here must be worth occasionally earning a point they don’t want.

Caufield now sits within realistic reach of the 30-goal mark, something that seemed out of the question a month ago. Him finding his scoring touch again is wildly important, and that game against the Senators shows what it can mean in a given game. The Sens were quite in control of that game, but Caufield showed that he only needs a few good looks to do damage. When the team gets to a position where earning points is actually desirable, that game-changing ability will be key.

Or how about Mike Matheson, who now sits tied for the 10th-highest scoring season ever by a Canadiens defenceman?

Again, a player with the ability to turn a game around, apparently whenever he feels like it. Shorthanded, Matheson sees an opportunity and takes off with the puck, undresses the goaltender, and cashes in a big goal for his team. He’s done things like this quite a few times en route to his 62-point season, even while eating tough minutes on a team that has been in lottery territory the entire year. What will he be able to do when the team around him improves?

Losses don’t matter, we know that they actually help at this stage, but these kinds of performances in those losses matter a lot. They’ve lost many close games this season, 14 times in overtime and the shootout, and if they can keep some of this dynamic scoring while improving their overall roster strength, these players won’t just be helping them force overtime, they’ll be winning games.

Better days are coming for the Habs, and perhaps at this time next year, we’ll be on the edge of our seats hoping these guys can stack some points that keep them playing hockey much later in April.

Click the play button below to listen to your full Bottom Six Minutes, also available wherever you typically get your podcasts. We’ll be back tomorrow night when the Canadiens start their final back-to-back of the year, closing out their season with a pair of games against the Detroit Red Wings.

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