Through the first three games Montreal held the possession advantage, the scoring chance advantage, and the shot advantage. Game four was the polar opposite.
We won't go over what happened, because frankly the Canadiens didn't leave me much to write about, but let's focus on a few key things.
The Senators adapted
- Dave Cameron mentioned that the hit parade in game three was a shortsighted strategy, since it opened up the ice for Montreal's speedy forwards, by having two forecheckers deep in the offensive zone. Wednesday's game led to very few scoring chances for the Habs, mostly because they have little to no chance to counter-attack Ottawa's pressure. The Senators didn't punch themselves out this time, and it showed.
- Cameron identified Montreal's dominance in the second period as a concern, and was quite happy with how they shut down the long passes and minimized the breakaway opportunities, save for Prust's scoring chance.
- Throughout the first three games I was scratching my head as to why Mike Hoffman was left on the fourth line. There's no valid on-ice reason that you should keep your leading goal scorer on a line with Chris Neil. Tonight we saw Hoffman, Zibanejad and Ryan run the show, which means the Senators have a new quality line at their disposal.
Forwards not doing their job
- It's easy to blame the defense when things go wrong, but one of the reoccurring issues with the Habs is the lack of support in the defensive zone from their forwards.
- There were 7 scoring chances tonight. That's one every eight and a half minutes. Not good enough.
The Defense struggled to get the puck out
- Another issue that Habs fans are way too familiar with, and tonight it was painful to watch. I'm not sure how many clean passes there were out of the defensive zone, but it wasn't enough to bother counting.
- Alexei Emelin and Tom Gilbert had a particularly tough night. Gilbert was only on the ice for one shot-attempt for. Only one defenceman finished with a positive one-ice Corsi differential, and that was, of course, P.K. Subban
- Montreal was constantly attempting long passes, and one-timers. There was little to no creativity, which is something most Habs fans are familiar with.
- They need to treat it like a 5 vs 5 situation. Quick passing and lots of movement.
- The Senators were clearly the better team, yet they only managed to extend their season by winning a 1-0 game. A bounce or two goes the other way and it's a completely different story.
- During the entire 2014-15 campaign, Carey Price lost four games in a row a grand total of zero times. I hate to sound arrogant, but the odds that he drops four in a row are incredibly low.
- The Habs have another 3 chances to close out the series, and two of those games will come with the advantage of the last change.
Carey Price summed it up perfectly after the game:
"They played desperate hockey, and they executed well. Anderson played great. It was a 1-0 game, you can't be too hard on yourself after that."
There's no doubt about it, the Habs didn't put forth a good enough effort to deserve the win, but with the crowd behind them on Friday, and Carey Price guarding the net, Montreal will have a fantastic chance at closing out the series without having to head back to Ottawa for game 6. As for the lack of goals, adding P.A. Parenteau to the lineup won't guarantee a win, but at this point it definitely couldn't hurt.