The Montreal Canadiens tried to mount an improbable comeback in the third period, but ultimately fell short to the Ottawa Senators after falling apart in the second period.
It was a game mired by penalties and momentum changes. The Canadiens were penalized a total of seven times, while the Senators were sent to the box three times, with a fourth incoming penalty cancelled out by a Christian Dvorak goal.
It made for a weird game, filled with many breaks in momentum, with neither team able to truly get a rhythm going at five-on-five until the third period.
The Canadiens’ lack of discipline once again got them in trouble in this game, as the Senators capitalized on a couple of their powerplay opportunities.
By the time the Canadiens tried to mount a comeback with two quick goals in the third, they once again fell into penalty trouble and hurt their chances of getting up the game tied.
In the end, the lack of discipline and the recurring struggles this young team has shown in playing a full 60 minutes of hockey was their downfall tonight.
A learning point you can bet Head Coach Martin St-Louis is sure to remind his players on their ride home to Montreal prior to Thursday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Your Canadiens game review below:
Second Frame Blues
The Canadiens may have gotten off to a hot start in the first period, but they lost the game in the second period.
Montreal came out sluggish to start the second period, while the Senators were able to build off their strong end to the first period and quickly pull away with the 1-0 lead from an impressive goal from Shane Pinto.
Once they were down in the game, the Canadiens began to show a lack of discipline that quickly came to bite them in the rear.
The Senators capitalized quickly on penalties to Kirby Dach and Juraj Slafkovsky thanks to Drake Batherson and Brady Tkachuk.
The lack of discipline has always been a difficult vice to overcome for the Montreal Canadiens, who are a team that thrives at even strength and struggles on special teams.
By taking five penalties in the second, all momentum they could have gained in the first period evaporated and they couldn’t find their legs in the short time while at even strength.
The Canadiens are now the 3rd most penalized team in the NHL and need to clean that up if they’re going to have any kind of success in the future.
By the way pic.twitter.com/kve9FeXWcH
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) December 15, 2022
Kirby Dach has had a very fun start to the season, but reality is starting to set in for the youngster.
In his last eight games, he only had two assists to show for his offensive performances.
Notwithstanding his lack of discipline in this game, Dach hasn’t shown the drive and speed that made him such an exciting player to start the season.
What was more concerning was the current goal-scoring drought, as the 21-year-old hadn’t put the puck in the net since his memorable two-goal performance against the Vancouver Canucks on November 9.
But tonight, Dach had fire in his eyes and looked to be pushing himself into the high-danger areas with more regularity.
It paid off for him, as he completed the beautiful pass from Jake Evans to notch his fifth goal of the season; which is sure to give him a much-needed boost of confidence.
For Dach to truly emerge as a top-six centre for the future, he needs to develop his shooting game and make himself a dual threat.
Jake Evans from NOWHERE. What a setup to find Kirby Dach (@kdach77).
— NHL (@NHL) December 15, 2022
To say the Canadiens have been struggling as of late on the power play would be the understatement of the last five years.
The Canadiens currently rank dead last in the NHL for power play goals, and also dead last cumulatively in the previous five years.
On a team that boasts the likes of Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Kirby Dach and more, it’s becoming more and more of a concern, especially as the team is supposed to learn and grow in all areas.
A young team generally gains confidence from their power play but, many times this season, including tonight, the Canadiens seem to lose more confidence than they gained after a power play.
It’s certainly not for lack of trying though, as the Canadiens tried new combinations on the top power play wave tonight with Jonathan Drouin and Juraj Slafkovsky joining the top line with the man advantage.
They simply could not convert on their chances, or produce much in the high-danger areas with the extra man, and it hampered them, as it has many times in the past, from getting an important goal at opportune times.
Something is going to have to give really soon in this department for the Montreal Canadiens, as they have too much young talent to be this bad on the power play.