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Canadiens vs. Senators Top Six Minutes: Habs win a physical match at the Bell Centre

Photo Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Before the game begins, we learn that Mike Matheson won’t be playing tonight, replaced by Kaiden Guhle instead. Hopefully it’s not another season-opening injury for the defenceman. Maybe Martin St-Louis just saw the quality of this Sens lineup and decided to give his number-one defenceman the night off.

First period

  • On the opening shift, Nick Suzuki gets knocked heavily into the end boards and needs a minute before getting up. We’ll hope he just had the wind knocked out of him.
  • Cole Caufield is still brimming with the confidence he brought to camp, getting a couple of shots toward the net on his first two shifts.
  • Another one of those extended cycling shifts in their end leads to a Canadiens penalty. That will need to be addressed quickly.
  • After serving the penalty, Kirby Dach draws one of his own on a breakaway
  • Mattias Norlinder takes a shot that just misses, then knocks down a puck leaving the zone with pace to keep the PP alive. It’s good to see his skill game more on display.
  • Another chance for Caufield. That’s three in the opening five minutes.
  • Jared Davidson shows he has more than just a good shot as he sets up Brandon Gignac for the opening goal. He should be fun to watch in Laval and may be the answer to the team’s woeful power play.
  • Zack MacEwen decides that pre-season is the time to hit Guhle from behind after he plays the puck. It’s a power play for Montreal, but they’d rather their players didn’t end up being thrust into the boards in a meaningless game.
  • Another chance for Caufield, another good keep by Norlinder, but still no goal.
  • That’s what the coaching staff was hoping for: a goal from Slafkovský as he pounces on a puck in the slot.
  • A four-on-two and David Savard — stays on his feet and thwarts the chance. No reverse sprawl on that one.
  • Poor Travis Hamonic isn’t having much fun versus the Habs’ top players tonight. He’s now been dismissed twice for good chances in tight.
  • A tough shift for Filip Mesar as he struggles to win a couple of puck battles then takes a penalty when he loses one more in the neutral zone.

Second period

  • More chances for Caufield. He just needs to keep adjusting his sights.
  • The Sens (including Hamonic) get caught out for a long time and it’s a shooting gallery for the Canadiens, but they all need to fine-tune their mechanics it seems.
  • Emil Heineman follows up his shot but runs right into Joonas Korpisalo on the post. Korpisalo is down holding his knee, and it’s a correct call on a goalie interference penalty.
  • Ottawa gets a goal quickly to make it a 2-1 game.
  • Despite scoring, the Sens decide to knock Jake Allen into the net as retribution. At least it was just a medium-weight bodycheck, and you can tolerate that, but the power play still needs to punish such behaviour.
  • A nice power move from Slafkovský to create his one chance in alone. That’s the vision everyone had of him when he was drafted.
  • Slafkovský is much more involved in the play than he was on Monday.
  • Davidson gets caught by a knee, and Gignac comes to his defence. This is why you set your teammates up for goals, folks.
  • There will be no power play after the instigator, but there will be some four-on-four with Suzuki and Caufield
  • … and Guhle, who decides he’s a forward for this moment.
  • David Savard also wants to a be a forward, and he’s unable to skate from Ottawa’s crease to his own to prevent Mathieu Joseph’s tying goal.
  • Kirby Dach lays a big hit, doing some power forward things of his own.
  • Guhle has become very noticeable since he made the mental switch to the forward position.
  • The Canadiens go to the penalty kill, but Sean Monahan negates it with a rush to the net requiring some illegal defending.
  • Not a very good goal for Primeau to let in after coming on in relief of Allen. Maybe he needs to wear his Rocket gear for his NHL minutes.
  • Montreal has had the much better chances, but the Senators have been the more opportunistic to capitalize on theirs.
  • Savard needs to toggle his own mental switch back to defenceman. He’s been caught twice now at four-on-four.
  • And one final bump on Suzuki as he’s clearly just draining the final seconds off the clock. Just because.

Third period

  • Now the Sens want to run Kirby Dach. Dach gets a matching minor with Mark Kastelic for saying he didn’t think that was nice.
  • Montreal gets called for a penalty, a pick play in the offensive zone, Ottawa calls timeout because they take these meaningless pre-season game very seriously.
  • RDS opened the third period with a graphic showing that that Canadiens haven’t won their last 11 pre-season games, so Montreal obviously doesn’t.
  • Guhle goes back into defensive mode to block a shot and prevent a shot at an open net. He’s pretty good.
  • Caufield doesn’t score on yet another chance, but the rebound does spill to Monahan so he can tie the game.
  • I predict Caufield will score two goals in whichever game he plays versus Toronto this weekend.
  • Jared Davidson waits until his defender closes in to pass the puck and set up a two-on-one in plenty of space. Hid playmaking has been strong tonight.
  • William Trudeau makes another good play. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t do anything incredible, he’s not a standout in the game, but he’s a positive-impact player every night.
  • On the flip side, the line of Andersson, Mesar and Heineman that came into camp wanting to prove their readiness didn’t pass their test tonight.
  • Caufield finally scores on what was probably his weakest shot of the game. Still predicting the two versus the Leafs.
  • Montreal back to the box, maximizing their penalty-kill practice in this game.
  • Monahan loses his stick to make it essentially a five-on-three, so he blows up the nearest seen to lay him flat and reset the odds. And they say this man is boring.
  • Davidson, Gignac, and Trudeau get the call for the four-on-four. A nice reward for some solid play tonight.
  • Panic sets in as the Sens enter the final three minutes of this very important pre-season game down a goal — and without their timeout.
  • Sadness as the Sens can’t get the equalizer, and fall 4-3.

EOTP 3 Stars will return in the regular season,