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Canadiens vs. Senators game recap: Ben Chiarot’s sure shot secures two points for Montreal

The unlikeliest of overtime heroes emerged for the Habs in a third straight win.

NHL: DEC 11 Senators at Canadiens Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens were rolling into Wednesday night’s showdown with Ottawa Senators riding high, but wounded. Matthew Peca joined the list of injured players after being on the rough end of a collision with Evgeni Malkin on Tuesday night. Ryan Poehling and Christian Folin rejoined the team however, Folin after his conditioning stint and Poehling to replace Peca after one recall earlier in the season.

Despite the injuries, the Canadiens are playing some of their best hockey of late, with players like Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber experiencing major resurgences. Weber in particular looks like a new player, even scoring a highlight-reel wraparound goal at the expense of Pittsburgh Penguins defencemen.

Carey Price backstopped the team on Tuesday, so Cayden Primeau drew the start at home against Ottawa, tasked with stopping the red-hot Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Duclair.

The Canadiens did not make the start of the game easy on their rookie netminder, as Primeau faced a heavy Senators attack in the early going. Montreal struggled to find clean entries or exits in either zone and the Senators were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Primeau stood tall, directing pucks out of dangerous areas.

While he held the fort, the Canadiens went to work looking to jumpstart their offence. It was the fourth line that helped out, drawing a tripping penalty behind the net. The early man advantage struggled to gain the zone, but when the Shea Weber-led unit hit the ice, things changed quickly. Weber worked along the blue line and dropped a pass off to Max Domi, Domi paused before firing a hard pass to the front of the net, where Nick Cousins had gained inside leverage on Nikita Zaitsev and directed the pass over the shoulder of Anders Nilsson.

While the Canadiens’ top line nearly doubled as Phillip Danault sent a cross-crease feed to Brendan Gallagher, Montreal had to settle for just the one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

The Canadiens nearly grabbed another goal early in the second, with Tomas Tatar fighting through a check to collect a loose puck. Montreal then had roughly a week and change to shoot the puck, but held on for too long and failed to even get a shot.

On the ensuing Senators rush Anthony Duclair drew an interference call, presenting Ottawa with their first man advantage of the night. The Canadiens’ penalty kill easily disposed of the power play, keeping the Senators attack to the outskirts of the scoring areas, and more importantly off the board.

Brady Tkachuk drew the ire of Shea Weber after a whistle, shoving him on top of Primeau and angering the Canadiens’ captain to kick off a scrum behind the Montreal net. When all was said and done, both Tkachuk and Weber had two minute minors, as did Duclair who tangled with Nick Cousins.

The Montreal power play did not last long as a blocked pass turned into a short-handed rush, and another penalty on Montreal. That situation did not last long either as Colin White was whistled for an infraction, making it a four-on-three power play for the Canadiens.

After an Otto Leskinen shot turned into a three-on-one rush, Primeau was able to fend off the shot, but Joel Armia took a hooking penalty in the ensuing chaos as he fell down around the net. The Canadiens’ penalty-killers did an incredible job once again, including Danault who kept the puck away from no less than five Senators at once in their own zone to run the man advantage down.

A too many men on the ice penalty sent the Canadiens back to the power play, where it failed to make much noise, outside of forcing Primeau into a big save on Pageau’s short-handed rush.

Brendan Gallagher lifted a late chance high over the net on his backhand, and the Canadiens entered the second intermission still holding on to their one-goal lead, thanks in part to a big performance from their rookie goaltender.

After relying on the netminder for most of the second period, the Canadiens gave him some help less than 30 seconds into the third period. Gallagher worked the puck behind the Senators’ net, and thanks to Danault it made it back to Tatar at the point. The Slovak finally shot the puck, and it took a strange bounce off Mark Borowiecki and into the back of the net to double Montreal’s lead.

Gallagher play after the goal wasn’t nearly so productive as he was called for tripping up Chris Tierney, putting Ottawa back on the power play. It was Tkachuk who made him pay for the penalty as he slipped behind Weber and slammed home a rebound chance to draw the Senators within a goal.

The Canadiens could not get their foot back down on the gas, and another Leskinen turnover resulted in a great chance for the Senators. Primeau tried to steer the puck away, but Connor Brown was all over the puck and lifted it into the net, making it a brand new game with seven minutes to play.

Another BrendanGallagher penalty sent Montreal to a huge kill with two-and-a-half minutes to play, and the Canadiens nearly scored short-handed thanks to a massive slapshot off the post by Nate Thompson. The kill did its job, shutting down the man advantage and forcing the game into overtime.

It finally came together in the additional five minutes after a tenuous and frustrating start for the Canadiens. Domi again tried to do too much and failed to get his shot off. He made up for it by collecting a puck after a poor pass from the Senators, flying in on a two-on-two with Ben Chiarot, and drawing both Thomas Chabot and Tkachuk over to him. With two players fixed on Domi, he fed the puck over to Chiarot, who rifled home the game-winner. It was the first overtime goal of his career, and it secured the first NHL win for Cayden Primeau as well.

Montreal has two days off, and will face off with the hapless Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night looking to make it four wins in a row after an eight-game skid.