Sean Monahan's dressing room nickname — Monny — might have to be altered to Money.
Friday night was a classic example of why the Ottawa 67's centre is at the top of next season's NHL draft class. Series tied 2-2 with the Belleville Bulls. Game tied 2-2 with fewer than 10 minutes to play. National television audience looking in. First the 17-year-old went hard to the net, getting his stick down to flick Brett Gustavsen's pass by fellow future first-round pick Malcolm Subban to untie the game. Three minutes later, Monahan carried into the Bulls zone and had his cross-ice pass deflected, but followed up by retrieving the puck along the end boards, wriggling free from defenceman Stephen Silas and slipping the puck out to an onrushing Tyler Toffoli for the dagger goal in the 5-2 Ottawa victory.
What's the saying? Big-time players make big-time plays on big-time days?
"I don't really look at the TV part, but when the series is tied 2-2 the next game is the biggest one," said Monahan, whose strong work in the faceoff dot also helped the 67's take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference series. "You want to be in the driver's seat and have the momentum and a chance to finish it off. You just have to give it everything I have.
"I think I'm playing well. My compete level is well. Things will hopefully keep going our way."
No surprises
The game-winner gave Monahan four goals and five points in as many games during the series against the Bulls. The frequency of the two teams' meeting — Friday's meeting was their 15th of the season, counting exhibition — makes it is impossible to spring any surprises. So it stands out that Monahan is getting so many chances and is converting a few.
"We play Belleville so much throughout the season so they know our tendencies inside-out and it's a battle every game," he said. Usually you play against the same guys so it's kind of the same thing every game. [On the winning goal] I think I just snuck in there and Gussy [Gustavsen] made a good pass behind his legs and it came out to me and put everything I had into it and it went five-hole on Subban."
Up until Friday night, the seventh-place Bulls had probably been the more consistent team throughout the series' run. However, the frequent media timeouts that come with being on national TV allowed Ottawa coach-GM Chris Byrne to heavily play his frontline players such as Monahan, Toffoli, Ottawa Senators second-round pick Shane Prince (three goals) and defenceman Cody Ceci. Ceci logged at least 35 minutes.