Both teams opened the game with early intensity, with Michael McCarron laying a solid hit on Erik Karlsson. The Senators had the better of the puck possession early on as the line of Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Tom Pyatt tried to find an opening on net, but Carey Price kept the door shut.
A high stick from Alexandre Burrows took down Alex Galchenyuk but went unpenalized. Andrew Shaw, quick to action, jumped in to his defence. Shaw and Burrows were both sent to the box for matching fighting majors.
The Canadiens did manage to gain possession, and AlexanderRadulov carried the puck in along the boards, forcing Erik Karlsson to take a holding penalty. On the ensuing man advantage, Montreal’s defence took control. Andrei Markov fed Shea Weber a perfect pass, yet Andserson was able to block a classic Weber slapshot. The duo set up the same play soon afterward, and this one gets past Anderson and into the net.
The pace quickened as both teams went back and forth exchanging chances and hits. Shaw laid a wallop on Tom Pyatt and then Torrey Mitchell was taken down by Fredrik Claesson. The intensity and speed of the game was maintained through the dying seconds of the period.
The Canadiens continued their dominance in the faceoff circle by opening the second with a win by Shaw. They wasted no time at all and opened with offensive aggression, as Markov carried it down to the dot and shot the puck right through Anderson.
Back at even strength, the Senators managed to find the puck again, but good hockey intuition from Paul Byron allowed him to anticipate the puck’s movement, and he was able to intercept and clear the puck.
Shortly afterward Byron stole the puck again, and with Widemen on his shadow, he carried the puck through to Anderson and tossed it on net. Anderson stopped the shot but Wideman was called for holding as he couldn’t quite contain the speedster.
The Canadiens took full advantage of the penalty as Markov scored his second of the night with an aggressive move right into the slot, getting his full weight into a slapshot to make it a three-goal game.
The Senators had what was their best opportunity all period, when Price went down blocking a shot. A scramble ensued by the net, yet Carey was able to maintain a view of the puck, and used a well-placed pad and a lot of desperation to protect his net.
The Canadiens began the 4-4 looking more like they were on a power play, with good chances by Byron and Markov, the latter hitting the post on what would have been a hat-trick goal.
A pass up the boards to Mike Hoffman from Pageau, a bit of fancy stickwork at the blue line, and a return pass to Pageau resulted in the Senators’ first goal. The goal awakened the Senators, who’s pace and intensity returned to the level it had been early in the first.
A smooth defensive move by Galchenyuk on the backcheck denied Pageau the opportunity to score a second goal, perhaps momentarily quieting some of the criticism about his defensive awareness.
At the midway point of the period Ottawa returned to the power play, as Erik Karlsson’s attempt to tie up McCarron’s stick resulted in a solid whack in the head. Even on the man disadvantage, the Canadiens remained offensively dangerous, getting multiple short-handed opportunities. The Senators did battle hard in the latter half, and Burrows fired a well-timed-but-not-well-placed shot off the post. A sliding Price defied Newton’s first law and managed to reach back and snatch the puck.
Artturi Lehkonen danced around Cody Ceci and fired his first shot of the night, and followed it up with a second attempt shortly afterward, but was unable to resotre the three-goal lead.
Claesson laid a hard hit on a puckless Gallagher with just minutes remaining and earned himself two minutes in the box and another two from offsetting roughing minors. The Senators opened the penalty kill with a short-handed chance, but the Canadiens were able to regain puck control, even after Weber vapourized his stick on a shot attempt and had to fetch a new one.
With two minutes remaining the Senators pulled their goalie. They were able to monopolize most of the puck possession in the final minute. Gallagher got a chance for the Canadiens on an open net, but was thwarted by Karlsson.
In the final seconds, Alexei Emelin hit Bobby Ryan who was not impressed and retaliated. Both were called for roughing with Emelin getting a supplementary misconduct penalty to boot, probably to keep him from stepping back onto the cie surface for the rest of the night. It was an unnecessary gesture, as with 1.8 seconds remaining in the period, the defeated Senators began returning to the dressing room.
The result was a 3-1 win for the Canadiens, and a third win over the Senators in eight games in what was billed as a key battle for the Atlantic Division throne. As a result, the Habs now have a three-point edge over their rival, and just seven more games in the season to have to hang onto it.
- Erik Karlsson is always a pain in the butt when he plays the Habs, but he is a joy to watch and any hostilities I may have for the Senators exclude him completely. I’ll reserve those for Chris Neil. And Jean-Gabriel Pageau. And Mark Stone. And Alexandre Burrows. And....
- Andrei Markov dominated this game and may have replaced Lyudmila Pavlichenko as my favorite Russian sniper.
- The Canadiens power play finished at 50%, which is a welcome improvement. It played a key roll in this win as they scored two of their three goals on the man advantage.