Claude Julien made just one lineup change from a winning alignment on Tuesday, with Nicolas Deslauriers joining the starting 12 forwards, as Matthew Peca took his place in the press box. Carey Price and Craig Anderson started in net for their respective sides; the sixth straight start for Price, who was in vintage form on Tuesday.
The one-sided contest earlier in the week did little to cool the intensity of this rivalry, with Brendan Gallagher and Brady Tkachuk jousting both physically and verbally right from the opening puck drop. Then the two teams started swinging at each other like two boxers in the last moments of a title fight.
After a Brett Kulak rush turned into an odd-man rush against, Price stood tall again as he flung his glove up to deny Tkachuk a goal. On the ensuing faceoff, a set play drew first blood for the Senators through a Mark Stone goal.
Because it’s Canadiens vs. Senators, that lead lasted all of 20 seconds. A turnover caused by the Canadiens’ fourth line resulted in the puck getting to Jeff Petry at the point. From there a soft wrist shot floated in over Anderson, who was screened by his own forward.
From that point it was less about offence, and more about the Senators attempting to erase any Canadiens player who was within six feet of the puck. Zack Smith sent Montreal to the power play with a bit of between-the-legs stickwork on his budding rival Max Domi. The Canadiens didn’t convert on the man advantage, but the focus had clearly shifted in the game for Ottawa.
As the period came to a close, Bobby Ryan skated in on Kulak with the intention of hitting him, but managed to hit his own face off Kulak’s shoulder, injuring himself as the period closed out.
While the first period was a back-and-forth tussle for control of the game, the second period was the exact opposite as Montreal came out and ground the Senators into the ice. Regardless of which line was on, the Canadiens had Ottawa stuck in their own end, and when the Senators finally forced the play to the other end of the ice, they took a penalty.
Even when the Senators killed the Matt Duchene penalty off, they still suffered a goal against. Duchene tried to beat out an icing call, injuring himself in the process, and needing to leave the ice. In the following minutes, a disastrous turnover by Tom Pyatt led to Phillip Danault threading a pass to Paul Byron, who made no mistake burying his fifth goal of the year, and giving Montreal their first lead of the night.
The Canadiens capitalized on another Ottawa turnover in the final five minutes of the period, with Andrew Shaw continuing his strong season. Thomas Chabot misplayed a Craig Anderson pass, and a great pass by Jesperi Kotkaniemi landed the puck on the stick of Jonathan Drouin below the goal line. Great patience and vision allowed Drouin to thread a pass to Shaw, who notched his eighth goal of the year, and 100th of his career.
The Senators finally made a game of it late in the period with a power-play goal from Colin White. With Kulak sitting for two minutes, a shot by Ryan Dzingel created a big rebound, and with Price scrambling to get back into his net, White had no issue scoring.
Ottawa came into this game as one of the NHL’s best teams in the third period. However, it seems no one told Montreal and Brendan Gallagher. Just over three minutes in, a Tomas Tatar shot was tipped on net by Gallagher, and thanks to a Canadiens bounce off the post, as well as Anderson directing the puck into his own net, Montreal had a two-goal lead once again.
Much like Tuesday night, with a two-goal lead Montreal continued to keep the pressure on the Senators as the clock ticked away. Also like Tuesday night, the Senators had no answer. Montreal continued to pile up shots as opposed to sitting back on their lead and playing conservatively.
A late delay of game penalty quashed any real hopes of an Ottawa comeback, and with about two-and-a half minutes remaining, Paul Byron put the final nail in the coffin. Anderson took off for the extra attacker just as his team coughed up the puck. Shea Weber fired a pass up to Byron, and the Ottawa native sealed the win, and a second straight five-goal effort by Montreal.
The season series wraps up in nine days with the final meeting between these teams, and if tonight was any indication, Zack Smith may attempt to tear Max Domi to pieces before it’s all over. However, before that meeting there are three games for Montreal to focus on, the first being against a struggling Blackhawks side on Sunday evening that should have the Canadiens’ attention.
- Max Domi might not have landed on the scoresheet last night, but his value was there in other ways. From the opening minutes he had the Senators crawling in their own skin, so much so the focus was on trying to get him, as opposed to playing team defence.
- Jeff Petry quietly had a solid night once again, Shea Weber’s return seems to be bringing back more of Petry’s 5-on-5 offence, which is only a good thing for the Canadiens.