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Canadiens @ Senators Top Six Minutes: Habs end the pre-season with another comeback win

Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After a bye week in the pre-season, we’re back on the ice. It’s probably good to get used to some long pauses between games because Montreal starts the regular season with just four of them in the first 12 days.

First period

  • Just as we’re getting settled in, Juraj Slafkovský pounces on a rebound created by the screen he set up. That will be good for his confidence.
  • Given the disparity in quality between these two lineups, there should be plenty more of those chances in this game.
  • Instead, it’s tied up quickly as a puck gets in front of Samuel Montembeault and Sean Monahan can pick up neither the puck nor a Senator to prevent a shot.
  • A burst of speed from Alex Newhook nearly sees him race past two Ottawa players for a breakaway. But the shift does end with a power play.
  • Mike Matheson is back in the lineup and quarterbacking PP1, but who gets the call for PP2?
  • Arber Xhekaj is the answer for the first one.
  • Cole Caufield used his feet on two different occasions to help get the puck past some defenders, and that’s fun. It’s another long cycling shift for the top line, and the Sens scramble to change when it ends.
  • Xhekaj gets a bit too aggressive trying to close off one attacker and lets another slip behind him. Montembeault stops the breakaway.
  • Norlinder slings a pass from the point to the far circle without a thought and nearly sets up a great chance. That kind of instinctive offence would be a big addition to this team, or a major one to the Rocket if he goes back down.
  • And we have a scrum between the Canadiens NHL lineup and the one Ottawa iced after a boarding call, which was the concern when you saw these rosters.
  • But it does result in a power play. It would be nice to make this one count.
  • Joel Armia is in this game and therefore on the power play. He does almost score after being left completely alone in front of the hit, hitting the crossbar.
  • A wicked shot from … Michael Pezzetta beyond the top of the circle has the Canadiens back in the lead.
  • After a brief moment when the teams looked more even than they should, Montreal has begun to control the play.
  • The Senators look like they’re working really hard when they try to move the puck, but this Canadiens team can neutralize that with less effortful skating ability, and that has to be frustrating for the Sens.
  • Norlinder has a pass fail to get to its target on a power play, but he quickly recognizes the danger and skates back to get in good defending position. Emil Heineman takes a penalty that he probably didn’t need to with Norlinder already back.

Second period

  • Jesse Ylönen gets some more penalty-kill time on the Senators first bit of power-play time in the game.
  • Emil Heineman blows up Zack MacEwen with a hit. MacEwen heads to the dressing room with an injury on the play.
  • Another penalty for Montreal as they’re still trying to figure out how to play their transition game in the long-change period.
  • Jake Evans gets hooked on an attempted short-handed rush, but there’s no call. It’s the first chance the Habs fans in attendance have had to boo the officials.
  • Suddenly the shots are even after the Canadiens had a bit of an edge late in the first period.
  • Joel Armia prevents a goal against with a quick stick to force a fluttering shot on net, and the puck lands on the back of Montembeault’s leg.
  • Slafkovský separates his man from the puck by nearly punching a Senator-sized hole in the boards.
  • Nick Suzuki shows his shot can beat goalies clean as well as he pulls in the puck and whips a shot into the net from the top of the right circle on a rush.
  • Matheson drew a penalty by dangling to the net and then nearly sets up a goal by doing the same. If he can stay healthy….
  • Caufield hits the post on the best power-play chance. They’ve come close to scoring, but haven’t converted on any of the five opportunities they’ve had.
  • A nice shift featuring plenty of quick puck movement with Norlinder, Heineman, and Ylönen on the ice, but the Fennoscandians can’t add to the lead.
  • In the end, they did kind of figure out the long change, as they built their shot margin back up as the 20 minutes went on.
  • Now the Habs will face a team that has been grinding all night just to sit at a one-goal deficiit. The third period should also be well under Montreal’s control if they maintain their style of play.

Third period

  • The action has been pretty good in the opening minutes. Some chances each way, and a few dangerous rushes. Montreal continues to just be a little bit better.
  • And just a I typed that line, the Senators tie the game some poor defending between Xhekaj and Jordan Harris.
  • And it’s now 4-3 Ottawa. As Montembeault fumbles a puck right to the slot that Harris can’t deal with.
  • Montreal goes right back to controlling the puck as if that nightmare shift never happened.
  • With less than half a period of pre-season left, we’re about to find out how much the Canadiens want this win.
  • Norlinder gets two consecutive chances by being the player furthest up the ice. That’s just too much fun not to have in the regular season.
  • And it’s Norlinder’s wristshot from the point that gets a deflection from Sean Monahan to tie the game. I think those last two shifts may have just secured Norlinder’s spot on this team.
  • Cole Caufeld races into a bit of space to accept a pass and make it 5-4. Another close-range five-on-five goal for him. Basically a power forward.
  • Suddenly D.J. Smith looks quite agitated behind the Sens’ bench.
  • Xhekaj nearly seals it for Montreal, but it’s the Canadiens’ third post of the evening.
  • But wait! The puck went through the net, so it is a goal after all. A 6-4 lead with two minutes to play.
  • And the Olés are being sung in Kanata.

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