The Canadiens are still looking for their first victory of the preseason after dropping a 5-4 decision to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday at the Bell Centre. With the loss, Montreal dropped to 0-5-1.
The game featured a wild finish with the teams trading goals late in the third period.
Nick Suzuki set up Cole Caufield in the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal that cut the Ottawa lead to 4-3 but just over a minute later Brady Tkachuk restored the Senators’ two-goal lead.
Arber Xhekaj made it close again but the Canadiens failed to get the equalizer.
The Canadiens had a slow start, falling behind 1-0 on a power-play goal by Alex DeBrincat at 3:14 and not getting a shot on goal until the 12:56 mark when Suzuki had a shot on a power play.
While special teams aren’t a major focus in training camp, there has to be some concern about the Montreal penalty kill, which has allowed six goals over the past three games.
The Canadiens packed some offence into a 45-second span in the middle of the second period. Suzuki stick-handled his way past two defenders and set up Joel Armia for a shot from 35 feet out at 8:20.
And defenceman David Savard lifted the Canadiens into a 2-2 tie when he went hard to the net and redirected a perfect pass from Jake Evans at 9:04.
But the euphoria was short-lived. Tyler Motte was the second player to get his stick on Artem Zub’s shot from the point as Ottawa regained the lead at 11:10 and Shane Pinto scored late in the period for a 4-2 lead.
Sam Montembeault, who is being counted on to play 20-30 games as Jake Allen’s backup, gave up five goals on 23 shots. Claude Giroux and Motte scored on deflections while Pinto had too much time and space before he unloaded a shot from the faceoff circle.
There was some extracurricular activity in the first period. Montreal defence prospect Xhekaj has wreaked havoc on the Senators in rookie tournaments over the past two years and he was targeted by Matt Kastelic, a heavyweight forward who is trying to make an impression in the Ottawa camp.
The gloves came off after Kastelic took a run at Xhekaj but the result wasn’t what Kastelic expected. The judges at ringside gave Xhekaj the decision and the Ottawa player received an extra two-minute penalty for roughing.
The Canadiens and the Senators head east to wrap up their preseason schedules with a pair of games under the Kraft Hockeyville banner. They will play in Gander, N.L., Thursday and move to Bouctouche, N.B., on Saturday.
The Canadiens sent seven players to the Laval Rocket earlier Tuesday. First-round draft choice Filip Mesar, Alex Belzile, Anthony Richard, Mitchell Stephens, Xavier Simoneau and defenceman Mattias Norlinder were sent to the AHL team along with goaltender Kevin Poulin. Belzile, Stephens and Richard will have to clear waivers before joining the Rocket.
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