The Ottawa Senators played a fast-paced game against the swift Montreal Canadiens for a 3-2 win last night at the Bell Centre. Unlike their sploppy win on Thursday against the struggling New York Islanders, the Senators played a relatively solid game, applying good pressure against the Habs and more importantly, making less mistakes in the neutral zone. It was largely a neutral zone game, where the two squads vied for puck possession, particularly through the second period.
The sore point on the night, however, was the third period, where the Senators failed again to rack up important insurance goals and put the night out of Montreal’s reach. Like the game story against New York, Ottawa is not playing a full60 and almost gave the Habs a chance to come back fighting- something that the Habs are very good at doing. Knowing full well that Montreal is one of the best sneak win teams in the NHL, underestimating them could have been the biggest mistake on the night.
There were two people on the night who seemed to have gotten the memo, however and they shut the Habs down. Kovalev showed up his former team with two goals on the night and consistently aggressive play. The ‘artiste’ was determined to keep his namesake and he had plenty of good chances on the night.
And Brian Elliott seems to be on the right track to prove that he’s Ottawa’s true number one. With all respect to Leclaire, Elliott is playing with more confidence and poise than any other Senator right now; he’s also the most consistent and the biggest factor in Ottawa’s wins this season. And he was in good company last night against a solid Carey Price. Perhaps Ottawa should take a lesson from the Habs and stop playing the maybe-maybe not game with their goaltenders and make a firm decision to go with one man. And that man should be Elliott.
Making Carey Price the number one goaltender didn’t inspire confidence in the Habs fans, but it did inspire confidence in Carey Price himself. That’s the most important thing and the Habs fans will get over their feelings when the wins come in. Making a decision, sticking with it and giving Elliott the responsibility for this team will not only have him playing like a number one, it will have him thinking like one. That would be the best thing for the team.
Ottawa’s grinders were a big factor in last night’s win, with a goal by Zack Smith and an assist for Jesse Winchester. Regin and Karlsson both picked up assists on the night, but Ottawa’s stars were noticeably absent on the scoreboard with no Alfie or Spezza racking up points. Brian Gionta picked up a big goal in the third period and could have changed the momentum of the game, which was already swinging in Montreal’s direction late into the third.
A win is great, but Ottawa still has to be careful going into its next games. Their star players need to step up their game and play more consistent hockey. The team needs to play a full 60 instead of the aggressive 40 minutes and lacklustre 20 that follows. And Elliott is our number one; the fans have no doubt. The team’s coaches shouldn’t, either.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.