In what was one of the most anticipated games of the season for the Montreal Canadiens, it wound up all for nought, as the Ottawa Senators blanked them 3-0 at Lansdowne Park in the NHL 100 Classic.
Montreal (14-15-4) entered the contest with a six-game winning streak versus the Senators, including the first two decisions this season, beating them 8-3 and 2-1 earlier in the year. The Senators (11-13-7) have been a team struggling even more than Montreal this season, winning only twice in their last 14 games.
The game featured a back-and-forth first period with both teams getting a fair amount of chances. The Canadiens killed off a late penalty when Karl Alzner went off for slashing.
Early in the second, the Canadiens found themselves a man short again when Phillip Danault went off in the first few seconds. Carey Price stood tall even when the Senators peppered him with shots.
The game remained a stalemate for much of its duration until finally the Senators broke the goose egg. After Montreal won a faceoff, it was Senators captain Erik Karlsson who fired a point shot that was deflected by Habs nemesis and Ottawa-native Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who netted his fourth goal of the season. Pageau now has 49 career regular-season goals, and eight of them have come against Montreal.
Montreal had a chance to get the equalizer in the third period when they went on their first, and only, power play. Habs captain Max Pacioretty, who has been struggling all season — and was a -3 in the outdoor classic — had a couple of chances, but couldn't beat Craig Anderson. He did lead the team with four shots on target, but couldn't get anything beyond the goal line.
Late in the third period, Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin tried to skate up the middle to create some offensive spark, but was quickly closed upon by Bobby Ryan who stripped the puck and went in alone to score just under Price's glove for his second goal in as many games and added insurance with 2:58 left on the clock.
With Price pulled, Ottawa sealed the 3-0 victory when Nate Thompson got his first goal in 17 games into the empty net.
Price finished the game with 35 saves in the loss, and Anderson made 28 saves for his second shutout of the season. It was Anderson’s 40th of an NHL career that started in 2002 and has spanned four teams.
Montreal will now travel back home before heading to Western Canada for three games against Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, respectively.
Hopefully the Habs can bounce back from their disappointing output last night and put some wins together before 2018 begins.