OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators continue to frustrate the Montreal Canadiens, whose season has now taken a turn for the worse.
Brady Tkachuk scored the overtime winner to give the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa Sunday night.
It's the second time in three meetings that the Senators have defeated the Canadiens this season. The Sens also outshot the Canadiens 6-0 in overtime.
"As a group we're learning," Tkachuk said. "I think when we get to those close games, even games going into the late third (period) or into overtime. We don't want to just get it to overtime, we want to win. And we want to win whether it's in regulation or overtime. We want to keep attacking, and keep creating chances and then taking advantage of the chances we had."
Drake Batherson and Josh Norris also scored a goal for Ottawa (5-14-1), who now have three wins in their last five games.
"You can see some of the young kids are starting to get confidence and are starting to be a lot better with the puck," Senators head coach D.J. Smith said. "A year ago, in overtime, we would just be hanging on. And I just thought we were attacking, we were dangerous."
Corey Perry and Nick Suzuki scored for Montreal (9-5-3). Suzuki's goal snapped a four-game pointless streak, but the Canadiens now have only two victories in their last seven games.
At one point, the Canadiens averaged over four goals a game while holding court near the top of the North Division standings. Montreal has only had one game in their last seven where they've scored more than twice in a game.
"I think we're pretty much all up in our own heads right now. I think just overthinking it, playing not to lose. That's never a good thing to do. I think at the start of the season we were really energized. Everyone was having fun. That's just gotten away from us," Suzuki said.
Canadiens goalie Jake Allen made 36 saves in a losing effort while Senators netminder Matt Murray made 30 saves.
"I think Murray was our MVP tonight," Tkachuk said. "He's been our MVP most of the year,"
Murray's start to the game, however, wasn't perfect, as he allowed the first goal.
Suzuki scored the game's first goal one minute at 17 seconds into the contest. He wired a shot off the post and in the net past Murray. Josh Anderson picked up an assist on the goal.
However, the Senators netminder didn't allow another goal until the third period. His teammates also helped pick up the slack offensively.
The Senators tied the game eight minutes and 30 seconds later thanks to a goal from Batherson. As the forward drove to the net, he toe-dragged the puck before falling to the ice. As he fell, the puck lightly floated in the air and over Allen's shoulder before it fell in the back of the net.
Neither team found the back of the net in the second period, despite Montreal outshooting Ottawa 14-8.
The deadlock finally broke in the third period after yet another floating puck beat Allen.
Sens defenceman Nikita Zaitsev fired a shot that deflected off of Norris's stick. The puck then hit Allen's own stick before flying over the netminder and falling behind the red line.
But Montreal would tie the game with over five-and-a-half minutes to play thanks to Perry. The 35-year-old, who joined Montreal as a free agent last December, carried the puck into the Senators zone and blew past defenceman Erik Gudbranson along the wing. Perry then drove to the net and put the puck under Murray's left skate and into the goal.
The Canadiens and Senators traded chances in overtime, with Allen making two saves on breakaways. But the Senators applied more pressure as the period went on, culminating in Tkachuk's overtime winner with 90 seconds to play.
Montreal and Ottawa will meet again Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
NOTES: Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot was unavailable for a second straight game. He has been sidelined with an upper-body injury....The Canadiens provided no updates for forward Jonathan Drouin, who left Sunday's game near the end of the second period. He did not return to the game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 21, 2021.