THE PRE GAME
A divisional matchup of great importance to both the Montreal Canadiens and the Ottawa Senators. A Senators win would give them some breathing space and avoid a potential long losing streak as they prepare to spend a lot of time in November on the road. A Habs win would bring the club up to .500 after the worst start in years for the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
It was Craig Anderson vs Carey Price as the clubs both went with their workhorse starters in their respective nets. Zenon Konopka and David Rundblad took a seat in the press box as they were replaced by Kaspars Daugavins and Brian Lee.
It was the annual Telethon for Roger’s House on the TV broadcast, which should have provided some inspiration for the Senators. Did it?
THE FIRST PERIOD
An early power play failed to connect after PK Subban was sent off for tripping. Price’s stop on Bobby Butler off a rolling puck was the best chance early on. Brian Lee‘s terrible turnover didn’t result in a goal, but trying to go through centre ice 30 feet in front of his own net isn’t going to get Lee back in the lineup very often. For a game where both teams must have felt like they were at home, neither team played with much passion early on. The Canadiens were awarded a power play after a goalmouth scramble resulted in Erik Karlsson intentionally pushing the net off its moorings to cause a whistle. He didn’t do it stealthily enough and a delay of game penalty was called. The Canadiens buzzed on the power play and had 3 or 4 decent chances on the power play but couldn’t beat Anderson. Jason Spezza created a turnover with a steal off Hal Gill, and then proceeded to make Andrei Kostitsyn look foolish with a curl and drag to go in alone on Price. A desperation dive by Josh Gorges knocked the puck away and the only thing that Price was forced to save was Spezza himself. The dull first period ended scoreless, with Montreal holding a 10-4 edge in shots on goal.
THE SECOND PERIOD
Before the ice was dry, Chris Neil‘s wraparound attempt was stopped by Price, who wasn’t even looking at the play but made the save nonetheless. Moments later Kostitsyn was sent on a breakaway off a nice saucer pass from Travis Moen, but Anderson was able to get an arm on the puck that was labelled for the top corner for the best scoring chance of the game so far. Kaspars Daugavins found Zach Smith cruising into the slot for a decent shot surrounded by four Canadiens. Karlsson wired a wrister that wasn’t seen by Price, but the puck went just wide as the Senators started to show some sign of life as the midway point of the game approached. Price was busier in the second as he slowed the game down by holding onto the puck at every opportunity in an effort to stem the tide. Neil decked Gorges at centre ice as he tried to use his physicality to get his club some momentum as he has done so many times already this season. Lee put Moen into the stancion at the Montreal bench, but fortunately Moen was not injured on the play (or else Lee might have been investigated by the Montreal Police for the next year). Milan Michalek had a point blank chance from the slot off a Spezza faceoff win, but couldn’t settle the bouncing puck down and he couldn’t get a shot on Price. Eric Cole finally broke the ice over 13 minutes in as the Canadiens were buzzing and Mike Cammalleri found Cole alone breaking in on the wing. The failure of the Senators to clear the puck on multiple occassions resulted in the turnover to Cammalleri, and every Senator on the ice was watching the sniper, and didn’t pay attention to Cole slipping in the back door. Three minutes later, the Habs went up 2-0 when Karlsson’s horrible turnover (throwing the puck up the middle from behind his own net) resulted in a 2 on 0 in close, and Lars Eller picked off the pass and drew Anderson across the crease with him. Eller’s backhand pass to the open area gave Kostitsyn a wide open net, with Anderson having absolutely no chance on the play. Subban’s late period slashing penalty gave the Senators some hope to get back in the game before the buzzer. Michalek had the best chance, trying to tap a puck out of the air, but a scrambling Price somehow got his glove on the puck. On the play Michalek ended up landing on Price and earned himself a goaltender interference penalty for his effort, negating the Sens power play. The period ended with Montreal still leading 2-0. It had to be frustrating for the Senators, as they outplayed the Habs but ended up losing the period 2-0 despite outshooting Montreal 14-10.
THE THIRD PERIOD
Zack Smith finally beat Price as he scored a shorthanded goal just over a minute into the period to give Sens fans hope for another dramatic comeback. Erik Condra fed a nice pass from the boards past two defenders to send Smith in alone and he went backhand to tuck it past the Habs’ netminder. Ottawa had a good opportunity to draw even with a power play, and they came close when Michalek’s deflection of Karlsson’s pass went just wide. Max Pacioretty ran over Anderson with just over 5 minutes to play, after Anderson made a save. Pacioretty was shoved by Sergei Gonchar from behind into Anderon however. After a few moments on the ice with the trainer, Anderson was able to continue. The closest the Senators got in the last five minutes was a hit post by Nick Foligno, followed a couple of minutes later by a Gonchar blast that nearly eluded Price’s pads. Not even a late power play with 90 seconds remaining could save the day as the 6-on-4 could not find the mark. Last minute heroics were not to be in this one, and the Senators lost their second in a row, by a score of 2-1.
THE POST GAME
* * *
SENSHOT’S THREE STARS
3. Chris Neil, OTT (did his best to create momentum with big hits & had 3 shots on goal)
2. Andrei Kostitsyn, MTL (his pressure created the Karlsson turnover that resulted in his game winner)
1. Carey Price, MTL (33 saves for the win)
Here are the Game Highlights from NHL.com
WHAT I SAW
This is the type of game where Daniel Alfredsson‘s leadership and experience would have benefitted greatly. I am sure Paul MacLean would have enjoyed the opportunity to get some pep in the Sens’ steps with a scrap from Neil, but finding a willing combatant on the Habs would have been difficult on this night.
On a night that the broadcast was raising funds for Roger’s House, it would have been nice to see more emotion from the Senators who were paying tribute to one of the most passionate hockey men in history, Roger Neilson. Neil did his best to rally the team all night, but for the most part was a man on his own island in that area.
The Senators fell to 1-2 while wearing the new Heritage Jersey.
The telethon raised $116,425 on the for Roger’s House.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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