Rookie Showdown 2019: Canadiens show promise, but can’t topple Senators

A few good showings weren’t enough to overcome a deep Senators prospect team.

Senators 4, Canadiens 2

At long last, our tedious summer nightmare is at an end when the Montreal Canadiens prospects took the ice in Belleville for the 2019 Rookie Showdown against the Ottawa Senators prospects.

While neither fanbase will admit it, both clubs have acquired a solid number of high-end prospects during their respective playoff droughts. For Montreal it’s a chance to see Nick Suzuki and Josh Brook before they begin their rookie seasons, and an opportunity for Ryan Poehling to establish himself after a professional debut for the ages against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In the early going, the more experienced Senators prospects jumped out to a quick lead on the shot clock with a five to one advantage at one point. However, a high-sticking penalty would offer a chance for Montreal’s young guns to jump back into the game. The power play was eerily reminiscent of many Montreal man advantages last year, with plenty of puck movement, but no real dangerous chances.

Cayden Primeau was the busier of the two goalies, being called into action to deny Alex Formenton on a chance in tight with a quick kick of his leg pad, while Joey Daccord didn’t have much to do in the opening 20 minutes.

The physical play kicked up in the final minutes of the first period with Parker Kelly running over Josh Brook, before getting his hands up in his face when Brook came looking to even the score. Kelly’s reaction sent Montreal to another man advantage that generated little to nothing once again. In all, a quiet opening period by rookie tournament standards saw the Senators head to the locker room leading in shots, but the score being tied at 0-0.

While there were some moments in the first period for both sides the second period began in a more disjointed manner with both groups struggling to generate much of anything beyond the defensive zone. Tryout Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin provided the Senators with their first power play chance after getting into a tussle following a collision with the Senators netminder. The Canadiens would fend off the man advantage, then draw a slashing penalty of their own for a third power play chance.

They nearly found the opening goal this time too, with Ryan Poehling creating havoc around the crease, but wasn’t able to lift the puck by Daccord. The rest of the power play went by without many further chances, and after a Gianni Fairbrother shot was blocked the Senators nearly scored on a breakaway out of the box. Nicholas Welsh took off leaving Fairbrother behind, but his shot was denied by Primeau who remained composed on the breakaway chance.

The deadlock would finally be broken shortly after, however it would be the Senators getting on the board first. Alexandre Alain sitting for holding Erik Brannstrom kicked the Ottawa power play into life, resulting in a Vitaly Abramov tip that beat Primeau, and a lead for the Senators.

The Senators lead was not made to last as the Canadiens turned on the pressure following the power play goal. Finally, the big line of Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki found their breakthrough. It would be the vision of Suzuki as he circled the zone and picked out Harvey-Pinard along the goal line. The 2019 draft pick flicked a shot that trickled by Joey Daccord and tied the game for Montreal in the final minutes of the second period.

The goal sent both teams into the second break tied at a goal apiece, with Montreal taking a lead on the shot clock, 17-14.

The Senators proceeded to start the third period by sending a surging Canadiens group to an early power play, with Drake Batherson taking roughing penalty behind the play. The early moments of the power play failed to generate much, but the Poehling line taking the ice changed the momentum. Working from below the goal line, Liam Hawel and Poehling continued to feed pucks to Harvey-Pinard in the slot, who in turned fired a number of dangerous chances on Joey Daccord. Even without a goal, the Canadiens were tipping the ice in their favour early in the final period.

The momentum would be sucked away in the blink of an eye, however, with the Senators taking the lead back with just over nine minutes gone in third period. An errant pass from Josh Brook was clipped by Jon Gruden, and it fell onto the stick of Vitaly Abramov who easily put home his second goal of the night. Just over four minutes later it would be Abramov again, completing his hat trick on a two-on-one with Max Veronneau.

With 3:56 left on the clock Joel Bouchard got aggressivie, pulling Cayden Primeau for the extra attacker in the offensive zone. Ryan Poehling took charge, controlling the puck and looking for lanes with the extra attacker. The Senators eventually forced the play back into the Canadiens defensive zone, and added an empty net goal to seal the game for Ottawa.

Quick Impressions:

  • Ryan Poehling is going to play a huge role for the Laval Rocket for however long he is there for, he was the apparent leader for the Canadiens.
  • Cayden Primeau, despite the goals against, look cool and composed all night.
  • It was not the best showing for Josh Brook, but the good news is, is that it’s a meaningless preseason showcase, that’s it. /

Montreal takes the ice for their final game of the showcase Sunday night at 7:00 PM EST against the Winnipeg Jets prospect squad.

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