Senators sting winless Canadiens 5-4 in pre-season tilt

MONTREAL — The Ottawa Senators set the tone on the first of three consecutive games against the Montreal Canadiens. Ottawa scored early and handed Montreal a 5-4 loss in the final pre-season contest at the Bell Centre Tuesday night.

Alex DeBrincat, Claude Giroux and Shane Pinto each collected one goal and one assist for the winners, while teammates Tyler Motte and Brady Tkachuk added goals. Mathieu Joseph recorded two assists.

Nick Suzuki earned one assist in his first game as the 31st captain in Canadiens history. The centre, who played alongside Cole Caufield and Juraj Slafkovsky, missed the start of pre-season with a lower-body injury.

Joel Armia and David Savard levelled the score in the second period while Caufield and Arber Xhekaj scored in the third for the Habs who are still winless (0-6) in pre-season.

Anton Forsberg allowed four goals and made 20 saves for Ottawa, while Samuel Montembeault blocked 18 shots and conceded five goals in the Montreal net.

Just like in Monday night’s 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal conceded early after taking a penalty. Giroux sent a cross-ice pass through the Habs’ penalty kill unit to DeBrincat who beat Montembeault with a striking one-timer.

DeBrincat returned the favour in the second period by sending a piercing pass for Giroux in front of the net to double Ottawa’s lead.

The Canadiens levelled the score with two goals in 44 seconds. Suzuki manoeuvred around two Ottawa players and sent the puck to Armia in the slot and the Finn beat Forsberg with the one-timer.

Savard instigated the play leading to his goal. The defenceman made a spin move to enter the offensive zone then received the puck from Jake Evans and scored Montreal’s second goal.

Ottawa regained their lead shortly after when Motte took a shot from the point, through traffic, that beat Montembeault over his left shoulder.

By the end of the second period, the Sens had their two-goal lead back. From behind the net, Joseph found Pinto alone in the slot and the 21-year-old buried Ottawa’s fourth marker of the night.

Montreal cut their deficit back to one on the power play when Suzuki found Caufield with a cross-ice pass. The sniper didn’t miss his one-timer opportunity.

The Sens answered by taking advantage of Kaiden Guhle’s defensive mishap. Drake Batherson and Tkachuk found themselves on a 2-on-0 and the Ottawa captain found the back of the net.

Xhekaj added a late goal to bring the score to 5-4 but it was too little too late for Montreal to pick up their first pre-season win.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.

Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press