Call of the Wilde: Ottawa Senators best Canadiens in shootout

The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators played a spirited affair in Kanata, Ont. Saturday night with the Senators increasing their winning streak against the Habs to nine games winning 5-4 in a shootout.

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No doubt Cole Caufield would like this season to continue. He’s hotter than he has been all year. Caufield scored his sixth and seventh goals in his last seven games with two second-period markers.

Caufield eclipsed his career high in goals with 27 on the season with two games to play. He also upped his point total to 64. His line was, once again, a handful for its opposition. Though it hasn’t exactly been a scoring extravaganza in Montreal, but this finish with a flourish from Caufield portends a brighter future.

The contest also featured more record-setting for Mike Matheson. He scored a shorthanded goal in the first period. He earned a breakaway with his speed, then the feint left the goalie soundly beaten. Matheson is only the sixth defender in the 115-year history of the Canadiens to earn 50 or more assists in a season. He’s also added 11 goals to the best campaign of his career. What a breakout season for the Pointe-Claire native, and what a trade to acquire him for Jeff Petry by GM Kent Hughes.

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Another promising development is the play of Alex Newhook. He scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period for his 14th of the year. Newhook missed almost half a season, played out of position for most of the year, and had rotating line-mates. Yet if he had played the entire season, he could have flirted with 30 goals.

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This one had the feel of a playoff game between two clubs near the bottom of the standings. It was a highly entertaining contest. The overtime was so enthralling that it was disappointing it had to stop after only five minutes. That’s the only complaint: Play at least two or three more minutes, then call it a draw. Few are interested in the sideshow that the shootout has become.

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The Canadiens are well set for years to come in net with the arrival of Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau in the last two seasons. However, they have a highly-ranked prospect coming as well in Jacob Fowler.

Fowler just completed his freshman season falling just short of a national championship. A shock in the final on Saturday night as the Denver Pioneeers grabbed the title by stopping all that first round talent of Boston College.

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The Eagles were the number one team in the nation all season long with first round draft choices on their club like Cutter Gauthier, Will Smith, Ryan Leonard and Gabe Perreault. Not one of those terrific scorers could break down the Pioneers defence in the final. Denver won 2-0.

It’s interesting because the Frozen Four often concludes in the same manner every year. The offensive juggernaut is defeated by a club that is concentrating on defence and playing a mature game. This is college hockey. There are so many adults in college hockey who bring not NHL talent, but NHL brains well ahead of the top prospects who don’t yet know how to solve that riddle.

Unlike Lane Hutson who signed with the Canadiens on Friday, Jacob Fowler is all-but-guaranteed to remain at Boston College. It could be three more years before Fowler makes an attempt to crack the Canadiens line-up. When he does, Primeau and Montembeault will be challenged to keep their crease.

Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on after each Canadiens game.


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