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Canadiens vs. Senators game recap: The power play strikes again

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Two more goals on the man advantage allowed the Canadiens to win again, with contributions from the young players.

Ottawa Senators v Montreal Canadiens

Before Super Bowl LII was contested, the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators got together for the latter half of their weekend back-to-backs, in a game with a 1:00 PM start.

Alright, to save some embarrassment for both sides, let’s just pretend it was a 2:00 PM start.

Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

A few minutes into the second period, the Senators started the goal-scoring when Mike Hoffman took advantage of a turnover from David Schlemko, shooting through a screen as Victor Mete tried to neutralize the situation.

The Canadiens’ red-hot power play was given a chance to go to work a few minutes later. The Senators couldn’t contain a flurry of shots from Jonathan Drouin and Alex Galchenyuk right at the top of the crease, with Drouin the one to draw a hooking penalty. The referees could have easily put the Sens down two men when Drouin had his head driven into the post at the end of the play.

Out on the man advantage, Drouin did draw another penalty a few seconds in. The puck got past Erik Karlsson on the zone entry, and he caught the centreman in the face when he whipped his stick around on the pivot, bloodying Drouin and earning a four-minute sentence.

With two more skaters on the ice, it took the Canadiens just 14 seconds to make the Senators pay. Jeff Petry scored his third power-play goal of the weekend — a two-day natural hat trick after notching the final two goals on Saturday — with a shot from the point. It matched his career high of eight goals, which he set last season.

Still with nearly four minutes of power-play time, the Habs didn’t let up. The second wave, featuring many of the youngest players in the roster, put the Habs in the lead.

Mete and Nikita Scherbak worked together to relay the puck from the point, along the half-wall, to the front of the net, where Artturi Lehkonen had been left all alone. He had time to spin from a backhand to a forehand position, and beat Mike Condon with the shot. It was Lehkonen’s first goal since he had two on October 30, also coming against the Senators.

Mete extended his points streak to two games with the goal, as did Scherbak, who has a point in each game of his latest recall.

With three goals on Saturday, the power play had climbed to 10th-best in the NHL. By adding two more on Sunday afternoon, it now ranks in seventh, with a 21.6% conversion rate.

Apparently it’s two goals or nothing for Lehkonen this season. With just over a minute left in the period, he rushed forward to get on the other end of a cross-ice pass right in front of the net, and Condon was well out of position as the Finn potted the puck into the net for his fourth of the season.

The pass that had fooled the goaltender came from Tomas Plekanec; a no-look, back-hand feed through traffic. It was the 600th point in the NHL career of the Habs’ alternate captain.

With a two-goal lead, the puck was largely controlled by the Senators in the third period, but it resulted in few actual scoring chances for the team, with their 11 shots not really troubling Carey Price.

The only goal celebration came from the Habs, as Plekanec added a goal to his milestone night, a gift from the Senators as he was handed the puck right in front of the net with time winding down.

Montreal earned its second win of the weekend, leaving the Bell Centre with the 4-1 victory.

The Canadiens get a few days off, which is probably a good thing as they will next travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. Should the Wells Fargo Center still be standing after the Super Bowl party finally settles down, that game will take place on Thursday.