Senators blank Canadiens in pre-season finale

The Ottawa Senators looked good in this pre-season contest against the Montreal Canadiens, winning it 3-0 at home.

OTTAWA — It’s mission accomplished for two of the top picks in the 2018 NHL draft.

Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi (third overall) and Ottawa Senators‘ first-rounder Brady Tkachuk (fourth overall) will start the season in the NHL, the teams confirmed Saturday.

Kotkaniemi did not play in the Senators’ 3-0 win over the Canadiens on Saturday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Senators coach Guy Boucher has liked what he’s seen from Tkachuk and says the American forward has earned the opportunity to be in Ottawa.

"He did everything right," said Boucher. "He’s very aware of the small details of what it’s like to be a professional, so even though he’s young he’s one of those people that gets it and you see it right away."

The rebuilding Senators (2-4-0 in the pre-season) won their last two games and feel the team is trending in the right direction heading into the season opener on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"For us to give up one goal in the last two (games), that’s what we’re looking to do," said Matt Duchene, who had a goal and an assist for the Senators.

"Obviously, defensively and then offensively we scored when we needed to. We could have had a few more in Chicago (Thursday) and (Saturday) we had some really good looks and got three and that should be enough to win most nights."

Tom Pyatt and Bobby Ryan also scored as Craig Anderson stopped all 19 shots he faced.

Montreal is still looking to make some decisions on its roster and Saturday’s effort was not what head coach Claude Julien was hoping to see.

The Canadiens finished the pre-season with a 4-3-0 record.

Canadiens goalie Carey Price gave up three goals on 21 shots in two periods. Antti Niemi stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period.

"This was probably our worst game since the start of training camp," said Julien. "We’ve had a very good camp, we’ve seen some good things and (Saturday) was the last night to evaluate certain players, but with a game like this it will make some decisions that much harder than we would like. I would have preferred a more positive outcome, but we’ve seen players for two weeks so we’ll probably make final decisions by Monday."

Like the Canadiens, the Senators still have a couple decisions to make, most notably on defence as Ben Harpur, Maxime Lajoie and Christian Jaros battle for a spot.

The Senators will spend Monday and Tuesday in Mont Tremblant, Que., and Boucher says he will bring all three defencemen on the trip before making a decision.

The Senators are trying to decide whether they will start the season carrying seven or eight defencemen.

Up front, the Senators will start the season with the 13 remaining forwards in camp, meaning Tkachuk and Alex Formenton will open the campaign in the NHL

Formenton has been impressive since the start of the season and looked like he had a sure goal in the third period, but was robbed by Niemi.

Ottawa scored two unanswered goals in the second to take a 3-0 lead.

Duchene gave the Senators a 2-0 lead midway through the period as he and Tkachuk played a little give-and-go, leaving Price with no chance.

The Senators made it 3-0 with a power-play goal at the 13-minute mark as Mark Stone gobbled up a loose puck in front and found Ryan, who fired a wrist shot past Price.

The Senators opened the scoring early in the first period as Pyatt was able to grab Magnus Paajarvi’s rebound and backhand it past Price.

The Canadiens will open the season Wednesday in Toronto as they take on the Maple Leafs.

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