February 28th, 2024

Pinto scores first of season, Senators beat Canadiens for second time in six days

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on January 23, 2024.

Montreal Canadiens' defenceman Arber Xhekaj (72) checks Boston Bruins' Danton Heinen during second period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, November 11, 2023. Forward Tanner Pearson and Xhekaj will return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL – Shane Pinto scored his first goal of the season as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in six days with a 4-1 win on Tuesday night at Bell Centre.

The 23-year-old Pinto was playing in just his second game since serving a 41-game suspension for activities related to sports wagering and signing a one-year, US$775,000 contract with the Senators.

Ridly Greig and Jake Sanderson also scored while Mathieu Joseph added an empty-net goal for Ottawa (18-24-1), which won its fourth game in six outings. Joonas Korpisalo made 25 saves.

The Senators extended their win streak over the Canadiens to eight games, dating back to April 5, 2022.

Johnathan Kovacevic, back in the lineup after three games as a healthy scratch, scored the lone goal for Montreal (19-21-7) and Jake Allen stopped 24 shots.

The Canadiens lost their third game in a row after a 9-4 defeat to the Boston Bruins on Saturday and a 6-2 loss in Ottawa on Thursday.

Montreal went 0-for-5 on the power play – and allowed a short-handed goal – against an Ottawa penalty kill that ranked 31st in the NHL (72.7 per cent) entering the game. The Senators were also 0-for-5 with the man-advantage.

An unmarked Greig buried a rebound off a short-handed faceoff in Montreal’s zone to open the scoring at 7:45 of the first period.

The Senators needed just 41 seconds to double their lead as Sanderson picked a loose puck in the slot and rifled a wrist shot past Allen to suck the life out of Bell Centre.

After Ottawa led the shots 11-6 in the first, Pinto poured it on by scoring on a breakaway at 6:22 of the second to make it 3-0 after a stretch pass from Claude Giroux sent him in alone.

Montreal went on the power play four different times in the second but had trouble generating quality scoring chances, leading to heavy jeers from the home crowd.

Sharpshooter Cole Caufield – riding a five-game goal streak – had a chance to make it six but Korpisalo denied him with a glove stop with five minutes left in the period.

The Canadiens put the pressure on to start the third and nearly broke the ice as Tanner Pearson deflected a point shot that hit the post and trickled along the goal line, but never crossed it.

After Montreal lost its cool with back-to-back penalties, which it fended off, Caufield missed a wide-open cage at the side of the net.

Kovacevic finally broke through with 7:29 left in the game by scoring from the point.

The Canadiens pulled the goalie for an extra attacker with four minutes left and sustained pressure in Ottawa’s zone for a minute-and-a-half.

Joseph then buried his empty-net goal with 2:27 to put the game to bed.

BACK IN THE LINEUP

Pearson and defenceman Arber Xhekaj returned to the Canadiens lineup after lengthy absences.

Pearson played his first game since Dec. 9 after missing 19 games with an upper-body injury.

Xhekaj donned a Canadiens jersey for the first time since Nov. 16 after playing 17 games with the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket following an injury.

UP NEXT

Canadiens: Host the New York Islanders in head coach Patrick Roy’s return to Montreal on Thursday.

Senators: Open a three-game homestand Thursday against the Boston Bruins.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2024.

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