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Stutzle's three-point night leads Senators over Canadiens

Ottawa Senators Brady Tkachuk Montreal Canadiens Mike Matheson Brady Tkachuk Mike Matheson - The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Jacques Martin issued a challenge to his team a couple days ago, and the Ottawa Senators answered it with a 6-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Following an ugly 7-4 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, Ottawa’s interim head coach said he needed a better effort and more determination from some people.

From the moment the puck dropped the Senators seemed poised to prove a point.

“I thought it was a really good effort for 60 minutes,” said Martin. “I thought we played on our toes. What I like is, the last couple of games, I like the amount of time we’re spending in the offensive zone.

"I think it’s a step in the right direction."

Ottawa, which won for just the second time in its last eight games (2-6-0), had goals from six different players and kept the pressure on for the duration of the game — something that has been lacking for much of the season.

Tim Stutzle, who has been struggling offensively of late, led the way with a goal and two assists.

“I haven’t been playing the way I want to play,” admitted Stutzle. “The last three games, I think I’ve got my confidence back. I think the whole group, I mean, we’re getting pucks to the net, we’ve got guys on the goalie and it makes the job easier.”

Brady Tkachuk, Rourke Chartier, Vladimir Tarasenko and Mathieu Joseph also scored, while Parker Kelly added an empty-net goal for the Senators (16-24-0). Joonas Korpisalo stopped 21 shots.

Cole Caufield and Michael Pezzetta scored for the Canadiens (19-19-7). Cayden Primeau, making his first start since Jan. 10, made 32 saves.

The result was disappointing for a Canadiens team that beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 Wednesday night and the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 Monday night.

Montreal has struggled with back-to-backs this season as their 1-8-0 record on the tail end of those sequences demonstrates.

“We’ve had a tough schedule here," said Caufield. “Playing back-to-back is tough, but at the end of the day the league doesn’t care and we’ve got to be ready for those things.”

Ottawa jumped out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first.

Tkachuk opened the scoring with a wrist shot that went far side after a stretch pass from Ridly Greig. Stutzle made it 2-0 by beating Primeau for his first goal in 11 games.

Caufield managed to cut the lead in half at 13:25 when his shot bounced in off Korpisalo’s glove and floated across the goal line.

“It’s not that we came out flat,” said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. “The first four, five minutes were good, and if we had been a bit more opportunistic it might have been a different game.

"After that, it got a little harder. We lacked execution, especially in the second, and there were a lot of turnovers. It’s six games in 11 days and a back-to-back. We’ve playing good hockey but tonight there was a little something missing.”

Ottawa took over in the second and led 4-1 after 40 minutes. Chartier scored his second of the season and Tarasenko picked up his 11th off a play that started with a nice pass from Stutzle.

Stutzle showed off his skill in the third dropping a great pass to Joseph, who made no mistake.

“It was elite,” said Joseph. “Not a lot of guys can just do that at full speed. I didn’t have to do much, I had a yawning cage there, wide open."

Kelly added his empty-netter when the Canadiens pulled Primeau with over seven minutes remaining to have the extra-man advantage during a four-on-four.

“Why not?” said St. Louis. “It’s 5-1. What’s the difference losing 5-1 or 6-1. You score one there and then you’re looking at scoring three in eight minutes and maybe you get a power play, you just never know.

"If you don’t try anything you don’t get anything.”

Pezzetta made it 6-2 by winning a battle for the puck in front late in the third.


Tonight’s victory moved Martin into sole possession of 20th place among all-time NHL head coaches with the 618th win of his career ... Travis Hamonic was a healthy scratch for the Senators ... Josh Norris missed his fourth straight game with a lower body injury ... D Johnathan Kovacevic was a healthy scratch for Montreal.


Ottawa hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Montreal heads to Boston on Saturday to play the Bruins.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024.