Formenton scores twice for Senators in 7-2 thumping of Canadiens in pre-season game

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Ottawa's youth movement paced the Senators to a 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in pre-season hockey Friday.

Alex Formenton, 22, led the way with two goals and an assist. Drake Batherson, 23, and Josh Norris, 22, each produced a three-point night of a goal and two assists.

Shane Pinto, who wants to prove he can be a second-line centre, helped his cause as the 20-year-old picked up two assists.

Pinto scored the overtime winner Sunday against Winnipeg.

“He was really good again,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said.

“He’s been as good as anyone throughout camp. Just continues to make plays and plays the centre ice position so well; strong stick, good on faceoffs, plays on both sides of the powerplay and the penalty kill, so we think we’ve got a good player there.”

Austin Watson and Egor Sokolov also scored for the Sens, while Matt Murray was solid in his first game since April 24 with 25 saves.

Alex Belzile and Christian Dvorak countered for the Canadians. Jake Allen allowed six goals on 29 shots over two periods before Kevin Poulin turned away four shots in the third.

Ottawa's offensive output Friday was in stark contrast to getting shut out 4-0 by Toronto on Wednesday.

“We just made a lot more plays,” Smith said.

“We were fast. Norris and Batherson made a big difference. They make plays at a high level, but as a whole we worked pretty hard I thought.”

Formenton played alongside with Batherson and Norris in place of Brady Tkachuk, who remains unsigned and absent from training camp.

“With the situation we’re in, we’re looking to fill that spot at this point and (Formenton) did a real nice job,” said Smith.

“Obviously, his speed backs people off.”

With opening night less than two weeks away, Smith needs to have a backup plan should Tkachuk and the Senators remain at odds over a contract.

Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme expected a slow start from his club having travelled the same day to Ottawa, but was disappointed in Montreal's second period.

“Our first period was OK, a slow start a bit which was understandable with the travel, but the second part of the first was better,” Ducharme said.

"The second had a couple bad mistakes and gave up bad goals we shouldn’t be giving. Then you’re behind too much, but we wanted to make sure we don’t quit on those things.”

Chris Wideman, who is looking for a job on Montreal’s blueline, had two assists in the loss.

Ducharme says Wideman needs to focus on his own game and not concern himself with the players he's competing against.

Poulin gave up a goal just 14 seconds into the third when Formenton scored his second of the night.

Four goals in the second period boosted the Senators' confidence in their offence as the regular season approaches.

Ottawa led 2-1 after the opening period thanks to a couple of key saves by a steady Murray.

“It felt good to get those saves in early,” Murray said.

“(Montreal) came out pretty hot I thought and then throughout the game, I thought we just got better and better and our skill showed through.”

Watson opened the scoring a 3:59 of the first period. He converted a saucer pass from Pinto into a shot that beat Allen over the shoulder.

Belzile drew the visitors even 14 minutes into the game when he oounced on a Chris Wideman rebound.

The Sens regained the lead less than two minutes later on Formenton's tip-in of an Artem Zub shot.

Montreal's Sami Niku and Ottawa's Parker Kelly both left the game with upper-body injuries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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