The Ottawa Senators chances of making the playoffs are slim, but it’s hard to rule them out entirely after they just recorded their ninth victory in 11 contests. Ottawa stayed sharp tonight with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
Max Pacioretty got Montreal off to a great start by finding the back of the net in power-play and shorthanded situations. However, rookie goaltender Andrew Hammond wouldn’t allow Montreal to beat him again. This was his 10th career game and he has never allowed more than two goals in a contest. With a 1.49 GAA and .952 save percentage, he’s the single biggest reason why Ottawa has been so effective lately. His strong start tonight has also made the goaltending situation in Ottawa more interesting as starter Craig Anderson is now healthy.
Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson also had a big game with two goals and an assist. That gives him 18 goals and 53 points in 66 contests, which is enough to lead all defensemen in the scoring race.
Under normal circumstances this might have been a night to forget for Sergei Gonchar, given that his Canadiens lost the game and he finished with a minus-two rating in 13:26 minutes of ice time. However, he became just the 57th player in NHL history to reach the 1,300-game milestone tonight.
Even after wining nine of its last 11 games, Ottawa is still seven points behind Boston in the battle for the second Wild Card spot, so the Senators will have to stay hot just to keep their hopes alive. By contrast Montreal is leading the Atlantic Division, although it has dropped five of its last six games.