The Ottawa Senators completed an impressive comeback to secure a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (Feb. 25). D.J. Smith’s squad trailed 2-1 midway through the second period but rallied to score four goals without a reply and sealed a crucial victory that keeps their playoff hopes alive.
The Senators’ win jumps them to within five points of the wild card places in the Eastern Conference with 24 games left to play. This result will provide them with a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the trade deadline, which promises to be fascinating in Ottawa.
Here are The Hockey Writers’ three takeaways from the Senators’ pivotal win over the Canadiens, with shoutouts for netminder Mads Søgaard, forward Derick Brassard, and the club’s core forwards.
Senators’ Mads Søgaard Impresses in Canadiens Win
It’s still early and he still hasn’t completely found his stride in the American Hockey League, but Søgaard has been solid for the Senators since Anton Forsberg went down with an injury and was excellent versus Montreal.
The Dane produced a 30-stop performance in his fifth appearance of the season, which saw his seasonal save percentage hit the .919-mark. He doesn’t look out of place in the show, either.
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Søgaard, a second-round draft pick of the Senators in 2019, is an impressive athlete with the smarts to match. While there are areas he still needs to work on, his recent development will encourage decision-makers in Ottawa.
If Søgaard continues to play at his current level, the Senators could alleviate some of their salary cap concerns by rolling with him in a depth role next season. At 6-foot-7, he certainly has the size to make an impact in the NHL and his performance in Montreal is the latest example of that.
Senators’ Derrick Brassard Leads Impressive Fourth-Line Tilt Versus Canadiens
It was a massive night for Brassard, who scored and provided an assist despite barely reaching the 10-minute mark in time on ice. Paired with Mark Kastelic and Austin Watson on the fourth line, the veteran forward sparked his teammates into life with a performance that saw him roll back the years.
Brassard broke the deadlock with five minutes left in the first period, tipping Nick Holden’s long-distance shot into the net of Sam Montembeault. He also provided the assist on Watson’s game-winner, capping off an impressive performance from the team’s depth forwards.
Speaking after the final buzzer sounded, Brassard praised his teammates for their ability to overcome adversity in an intense atmosphere at the Bell Centre.
“They scored two quick goals and we’re down by one, [but] I don’t think we panicked,” he told reporters in Montreal. “That’s a sign of maturity that we can play in those games. We came back in the third and won by three, that’s a huge win for us.”
Brassard makes a fine point, especially in the context of a spotty season for the Senators. There have been occasions in recent memory when they have faltered in the face of adversity but not against the Habs in a make-or-break portion of the season.
The Senators need more from everyone on their roster in the weeks ahead, the bottom-six included. If Brassard & Co. can recreate their form in the games to come, Ottawa will be in okay shape down the stretch.
Senators’ Top-Six Produced in Tense Encounter with Canadiens
The Senators’ win over the Canadiens wasn’t a work of art. They started on the front foot but were thrown off balance by their hosts in the second period. It could’ve turned out very differently if not for a fantastic response midway through the game.
“It was the halfway mark in the second period and we hadn’t taken care of the puck at all,” head coach D.J. Smith said of the performance. “We were rattled for a six-minute span where we were running around and turning pucks over… in the third period, we spoke about putting pucks behind them and checking. I think we did a really nice job.”
While the likes of Søgaard and Brassard have important roles to play, the Senators stand no chance of qualifying for the playoffs if their stars falter, which is why clutch production from Drake Batherson and Shane Pinto is so important.
Batherson chipped in with a rocket from the top of the right circle to put the game out of reach for the Canadiens. It was a laser that Montembeault couldn’t track, much less stop, and is a sign of his improved form in recent weeks.
Pinto’s second-period equaliser was equally important. He found himself in prime real estate after Alex DeBrincat mishandled the puck and beat Montembeault with a tidy finish from the border of the crease.
After a rocky start to period two, the Senators needed their top-six to raise its performance level in Montreal, which is exactly what they did. It bodes well for them with an important stretch on the horizon.
Looking Ahead for the Ottawa Senators
The Senators have a massive week ahead, with a home-and-home versus the Detroit Red Wings next on the agenda. If they take all four points from a direct rival, it will supercharge their playoff chase in the week of the trade deadline.
The Senators are still seventh in the Atlantic Division, but that could change in the days ahead. They have three games in hand over the Florida Panthers, who they trail by just four points. It promises to be a fascinating end to the month in Ottawa.