It has taken three weeks, but the Ottawa Senators finally have another chance to win back-to-back games.
They can do so with a second straight victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon.
Ottawa opened the season with a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 15. The Senators then went 0-8-1 until Thursday’s 3-2 victory at Montreal.
Ottawa has been one of the NHL’s most generous teams by allowing 50 goals this season but yielded its fewest thus far on the campaign against the Canadiens. Montreal is the league’s highest-scoring club by averaging 4.18 goals per contest.
“I just felt like as a team, the way these games have been going for us, it’s really frustrating and it’s not a lack of effort,” Senators goaltender Matt Murray said following his 36-save performance on Thursday. “We’re trying our best every night. It just seemed like we were fighting against everything.
“It felt good to get off that streak, and this will propel us in the right direction.”
Ottawa rookie Tim Stutzle, 19, has been heading in the right direction for a while now with a goal in three straight games. He also had two assists on Thursday. Stutzle is the second-youngest player in Senators’ history to record three or more points in a regular-season game (Alexandre Daigle, 18 years, 244 days), per NHL Public Relations.
“With every shift, every game I play, I get more confidence to make plays,” said Stutzle, the third overall draft pick in 2020.
“After the win, it’s a great feeling.”
Murray (2-4-1, 4.40 goals-against average) could be back in net for the Senators, who are playing their first home game since Jan. 21. Backup Marcus Hogberg (0-4-0, 4.54 GAA), though, could be in line for his fourth start of the season.
Either will try to help the Senators hand Montreal back-to-back losses for the first time in 2020-21. Thursday’s defeat marked just the second time this season that the Canadiens lost in regulation.
Josh Anderson scored for the third time in two games and seventh overall for the Canadiens, who admit they were outplayed all over the ice after owning an 11-5 goal advantage in sweeping Vancouver over the previous two contests.
“(The Senators) played a lot better than us,” said Montreal’s Nick Suzuki, who was held without a point for just the second time this season on Thursday.
“They were hard on the forecheck, and it didn’t look like we were prepared for that. So, as a team it’s got to be a lot better Saturday.”
The Canadiens’ Carey Price (4-1-2, 2.81 GAA) saw his three-game winning streak come to a halt after yielding three goals on 22 shots. He’s stopped 90 of 93 shots during a personal three-game winning stretch at Ottawa.
Jake Allen, who’s posted a 2.02 goals-against average and .930 save percentage while winning three of his first four starts for Montreal, could also get the nod on Saturday.
Four of Brendan Gallagher’s five goals on the season have come in the last six games for the Canadiens.
Defenseman Thomas Chabot, meanwhile, has two goals with two assists in the last three games for the Senators, who’s most recent home win over the Canadiens came on Oct. 20, 2018.
–Field Level Media