The Montreal Canadiens will look to keep a solid February rolling when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
The Canadiens are 5-2-0 this month and are coming off a 5-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, their second straight win to close out a four-game road trip. They defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Tuesday.
“I think the last few games, the way we’ve been playing, it’s been working,” said Montreal forward Josh Anderson, who scored a goal at Philadelphia. “We’ve been watching a lot of video and working a lot in practice with the things we’re trying to work on. It’s showing in the results, for sure.”
Montreal has managed to find success of late despite missing eight regulars due to injuries, including several long-term. That lengthy injury list led the Canadiens to claim forward Chris Tierney off waivers from the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
“The brand (of hockey) we’re trying to play, it takes time to build,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “We’re moving forward in that process. As a coach, you have to convince your players how we want to do things, how we want to play. When you have success, you convince them that how we’re playing, our concepts and everything, is stronger than any individual.”
Rookie forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard has been one of the beneficiaries of the Canadiens’ injury woes. The 24-year-old has been a solid fit at left wing on the top line with captain Nick Suzuki and Anderson, and he has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 14 games since being called up from Laval of the AHL.
The Senators are enjoying a solid stretch of their own, going 7-3-1 since Jan. 25. However, they have dropped each of their past two games, including a 4-0 defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday in Raleigh, N.C.
The recent successful run hasn’t helped Ottawa’s fading playoff hopes. The Senators are six points behind the Buffalo Sabres, who hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, one of five teams ahead of the Senators in the tight battle.
“At the end of the day, everybody is frustrated,” Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot said after the game against Carolina. “At this point we want to win games, we want to get in the mix. But I think you’ve still got to take some positives. The last 40 minutes were the way we play, and that’s the way we have success.”
Ottawa has been held to one goal total in its past two losses after scoring at least three goals in each of the previous eight games.
Senators captain Brady Tkachuk and forward Tim Stutzle lead the way on offense. Tkachuk’s 36 assists and 60 points are most on the team, while Stutzle sits atop the team with 26 goals and is second behind Tkachuk with 33 assists and 59 points.
The duo had been rolling up until the latest two defeats. Tkachuk had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in a six-game point streak that was snapped in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Monday. Stutzle had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in a four-game streak that ended at Boston.
The Senators have won all three meetings against the Canadiens this season, outscoring them 13-6.
–Field Level Media