OTTAWA — For a kid from Arizona, it doesn’t get much bigger than scoring the game-winning goal on a night that honored one of the game’s biggest legends.
Mark Kastelic scored his first career goal and his second of the night held up as the winner as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4.
That was so much fun," said Kastelic. “Probably the most memorable game of my career and super exciting to do it with the guys in that room. They’re so supportive and just a fun atmosphere to be in.”
Kastelic won’t soon forget his first goal as he ended up fighting Michael Pezzetta before he even knew he had scored.
“I have not done that before, so that’s a first, but in my defence, I did not know I scored. So that’s just kind of a funny situation.”
Prior to the start of the game, the Senators shared a video tribute, followed by a moment of silence to honor Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur, who passed away Friday.
Despite both teams playing out the final few games of their season there was an anticipation for this game as it marked the first meeting since Brendan Gallagher criticized Tim Stutzle of feigning injury.
While Stutzle was kept off the scoresheet he drew three penalties.
“I guess it added a little bit of intensity for the game,” Gallagher admitted. “Honestly, there wasn’t much happening. Both teams were trying to win a hockey game. Both teams were playing. I’ve said this before — he’s a really good player. We’ve got to be aware of him and try to play hard on him and do all that. But he’s a really good player.”
The Senators took offense to the criticism of their young phenom, but felt he more than held his own Saturday night.
“Obviously, he’s young, and we’ve all been through that and whatever has been said, has been said, but we know the way Timmy is,” said Thomas Chabot, who returned to the lineup after missing 19 games due to a hand fracture.
“We practice every day. We’re around him every day. He’s a competitor. He’s getting back up every time and when you’re a talented player in this league, unfortunately, you get targeted a lot and a lot of guys are going to go after you. But I think it’s all part of the learning curve and to see him the way he showed up tonight and battle all night I think it just shows a lot about his personality of him and him as a player.
While Stutzle might have been all the talk before the game, by the time it was over it was the Senators’ depth players who made the difference.
Austin Watson, Josh Norris, Parker Kelly and Alex Formenton also scored for the Senators (30-41-7). Anton Forsberg made 44 saves on the night.
Watson and Kelly, along with Dylan Gambrell have been a pleasant surprise for head coach DJ Smith.
“They’ve been our best line outside of the power play and our big guys scoring and some nice goals,” said Smith. “Gambrell’s line has been our most consistent over the last little bit here. They can play against anybody, they check, and now they’re contributing offensively. They finish every check. They’ve been a real good boost for us.”
Rem Pitlick, with a pair, Cole Caufield, Joel Edmundson scored for the Habs (20-48-11), who have now lost eight straight. Carey Price, making his third consecutive start, stopped 20 shots.
“It sucks to lose,” said Pitlick. “I think that as a team, and as an athlete, there is that fire and frustration when you lose. Like, we’re pissed off, but we’re just going to keep working. There’s nothing you can do other than trying to keep getting better and hopefully it bounces in your favour.”
Tied 1-1 after the first, on goals by Kastelic and Pitlick, things fell apart for the Canadiens in the second period when the Senators scored five goals, three coming in a span of 67 seconds.
Watson gave the Senators the lead, scoring in the opening minute of the period.
At 6:43, Kelly appeared to look for a pass, but beat Price stick side, 32 seconds later Norris beat Price from in close and 35 seconds after that Kastelic scored his second of the night.
Montreal called a timeout and rebounded scoring twice to make it 5-3 as Caufield took a great pass from Mike Hoffman to beat Forsberg stick side and Edmundson picking up his third of the season.
The Senators were able to regain their three-goal cushion as Formenton beat Jeff Petry in a foot race for his fifth shorthanded goal of the season.
Trailing 6-3 to start the third, Pitlick scored his second of the game midway through the period. The Canadiens kept pressing, but Forsberg was solid.
The Canadiens added No. 10 patches to their jerseys in honor of Lafleur and the Senators held a moment of silence prior to the game.
NOTES: Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot returned to the lineup after missing the last 19 games with a fractured hand. Connor Brown and Nikita Zaitsev were both unable to play and Scott Sabourin was recalled from AHL Belleville? Montreal’s Pezzetta returned to the lineup after serving a two-game suspension, while Jordan Harris took Kale Clague’s spot on the blue line.