Whitby - Sep. 25, 2011 - With 28 seconds remaining in the third period of a 2 - 2 tie on Saturday evening, Ottawa Senators’ gritty forward Chris Neil converted a pretty pass from rookie teammate Nikita Filatov with a quick wrist shot past Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price, giving the Senators a 3 - 2 come-from-behind win.
Neil was a force on this night as he did it all against the Habs - he had six hits, five shots and two goals. While the Habs suffered yet another pre-season exhibition loss, there was plenty to like all around in this game if you bleed bleu-blanc-rouge. Habs’ forward Aaron Palushaj played his best game to date as he recorded assists on both of linemate Michael Cammalleri’s two goals.
Habs’ defenseman Jeff Woywitka also had a strong game, as did winger Olivier Archambault. Palushaj is vying for one of two roster spots available with the Canadiens. Canadiens’ head boss Jacques Martin will need to decide whether his club would benefit from a more offensive-minded forward (Palushaj) or a defence-first centreman (Andreas Engqvist) before the 2011-12 NHL regular season begins.
The fans in attendance (21,273) that paid top dollar to see Saturday night’s game in person must have been fit-to-be-tied as both clubs only used eight NHL players in the contest to give their prospects a look over. Saturday’s game was strikingly tame (12 total minutes in penalties) and there were long periods of boring hockey throughout the contest. There was no silly stuff, fisticuffs or retribution that is normally witnessed in back-to-back games.
The announced three stars of the game were Habs’ forward Gabriel Dumont (who played with Cammalleri, 3rd star), Cammalleri (seven shots on net, 2nd star) and Senators’ forward Neil (1st star). Senators’ goaltender Robin Lehner got the win, while Habs’ stud netminder Carey Price took the loss.
The Canadiens now travel to Halifax to face the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
Beaulieu likely destined for Vancouver
Habs’ rookie Nathan Beaulieu has attracted plenty of attraction early on in the 2011-12 NHL pre-season for the Montreal Canadiens. Saturday’s contest against the Senators showed one deficiency in his game - his defensive zone work needs to improve. Beaulieu, the Canadiens’ first round draft pick, had an up-and-down game, even though he led the team in ice time (22:54). He was also a minus one in the contest.
Major roster cuts are expected for the club on Monday. It can only benefit Beaulieu to play another season in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants in order to hone his defensive zone skills to make him an exciting player to watch for years to come in Montreal.
The expected lineup for the bleu-blanc-rouge on Sunday versus the Bruins is:
FORWARDS: Archambault, Avtsin, Blunden, Cole, Darche, Engqvist, Gallagher, Gomez, Kostitsyn, Lefebvre, Masse, Palushaj, Willsie
DEFENCE: Beaulieu, Ellis, Gill, Henry, Weber, Yemelin.
GOAL: Budaj, Mayer.
Game Stats Review
Rookie defenseman Mark Mitera registered two assists in the contest however this was not his best game to date for Les Habs.
Rookie Phil Desimone won 11-of-14 faceoffs (.786), was a minus-2 and played 16:12.
Defenseman Josh Gorges blocked seven shots in the game>
Centre Tomas Plekanec won 14-of-24 faceoffs (.583), had three shots on net and played 20:53.
Rookie Gabriel Dumont won 7-of-12 faceoffs (.583) and had three shots on net.
Montreal was zero for three on the power play and won 34 of 56 faceoffs in the game.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one…