Canadiens’ late comeback falls short against Senators

Ottawa 3, Montreal 2. The second period makes the difference as the Senators compete for a three-goal lead.

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OTTAWA – The Senators exploded with three second-period goals, including two on power plays, then withstood a third-period comeback by the Canadiens to escape with a 3-2 victory Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Center.

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Cam Talbot missed his second straight shutout when Kirby Dach scored midway through the third period after Jake Evans won a battle on the final boards. Christian Dvorak made things interesting when he scored with 6:48 to play.

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After a sleepy first period, the Senators came to life in the second when they outscored Montreal 12-0 in the first 8:02 and took a 3-0 lead.

Shane Pinto #57 of the Ottawa Senators scores against Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at the Canadian Tire Center on December 14, 2022 in Ottawa.
Shane Pinto #57 of the Ottawa Senators scores against Sam Montembeault #35 of the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at the Canadian Tire Center on December 14, 2022 in Ottawa. Photo by Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photo /fake images

Shane Pinto opened the scoring when he held the puck at a 2-on-1 break and beat Sam Montembeault with a shot between the bases for his 10th of the season in 1:28.

The Canadians made it difficult for them when they took three consecutive penalties in the first eight minutes and Ottawa scored on two of them.

Drake Batherson found a loose puck in the crease to score at 5:41 and Brady Tkachuk scored from the slot on a rebound at 8:02. Alex DeBrincat got the lead assist on all three goals and extended his scoring streak to seven games with three goals and seven assists.

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The Canadiens racked up five minor penalties in the second period, which explains why the Senators outshot the Canadiens 17-3.

There were no goals in the first half, dominated by the Canadians. Montreal outshot Ottawa 10-6, with 7:34 remaining in the period when Travis Hamonic recorded the Senators’ first shot on goal.

Talbot came up with a great save on a breakaway Josh Anderson early in the game and stopped Cole Caufield from close range during a power play.

There was speculation the Senators would target defenseman Arber Xhekaj, who has a history of wreaking havoc on Ottawa’s prospects over the past two rookie tournaments. Xhekaj went toe-to-toe with fellow heavyweight Mark Kastelic in the first period, but Kastelic showed no interest in dropping his gloves and Xhekaj received a minor penalty for roughing.

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Jonathan Drouin. who has been recovering from an upper body injury, returned to the lineup for the first time since November 12. Coach Martin St. Louis used Drouin as a fourth-line center and also saw action on the power play. St. Louis said it was important for Drouin to get back to his fitness level after the extended layoff.

Drouin had two shots on target and it’s no surprise that he went 0 for 4 in the faceoff circle because it’s been a while since he played center.

Ottawa was 2-for-6 on the power play with 14 shots on target. The Canadiens, who have the worst power play record in the NHL, came up empty three times and had only three shots with the extra man.

The Canadiens are back at the Bell Center on Thursday to play the Anaheim Ducks. (7 pm, TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

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