Game one of the home and home series against division rival Montreal Canadiens saw the Sens fall in a shootout for the second straight game. Senators were able to squeak out a single point in the 3-2 loss in Montreal but they wanted to do more than that tonight as they had another chance at the Canadiens, this time at Scotiabank Place. With a win tonight, Senators would leap-frog from 7th to 2nd in the East, and pass Boston for the lead in the Northeast.
The game may have been on home ice for the Senators but they certainly didn’t have the home crowd. Habs fans filled and overpowered Scotiabank Place even more than they usually do when these two teams meet. Sens were booed as they stepped onto their own ice and the less-than encouraging welcome led to an un-energized start. It didn’t take long for players to get frustrated. Greening was the first to succumb to that frustration after being taken down by Subban with no call on the play. The two dropped the gloves, a fight won by Greening, but unfortunately the only additional penalty was on Greening’s retaliation.
When Sens finally got their own power play they’d wish they never had. The only team to score was the one with four playes. Tomas Plekanec came in 1 on 1 against Matt Gilroy and blasted a rocket over the glove of Ben Bishop to give Habs the lead.
It was then Neil trying to get things going with a fight of his own. His attempt at motivating the Senators bench seemed to work as the momentum shifted in Ottawa’s favour the rest of the period. With 4 penalties between the two teams in the final minute, Ottawa wound up with an extended 5-3 that would carry over into the second period.
Opening the period down by one but with a two man advantage, the Sens needed to get things going. They had a chance to redeem themselves for their early power play work but it seemed that it was only getting worse as time went on. The Habs penalty killers did a great job blocking shots but they also had Ottawa to thank for often clearing the zone themselves with errant passes. Ottawa controlled a lot of the second period, managing 12 shots on Price however there were probably closer to 30 attempted. Meanwhile, at the other end, Ben Bishop sat untested for the majority of the frame facing only 3 shots.
Never doubt. That quickly became a popular motto when talking about the Sens this season. The reason? No matter how much time is left or how far they are down they play hard, and they can pull off a comeback like nobody else. Leading the league in third period goals at 92 to begin the night, they looked to add a few more.
Ottawa got help early from the often debated delay of game call but again their power play unit just wasn’t clicking. They were able to get by without it though. Just a minute after Desharnais got out of the box Colin Greening got the puck past Price to tie the game. Another delay of game penalty would give them a chance to take the lead late in the third but again it went awry, leaving the power play a dreadful 0 for 9 on the night. Once again Bishop saw little action with just three more shots in the final period. And for the third straight game, the Senators were headed to extra time.
It took a few minutes to get set up, but when the time was right the play was executed flawlessly. Three minutes into the extra frame Karlsson made his typical break out pass to start things off. Receiving it was Alfredsson who did a good job selling the shot before passing to Kuba who would get it past Carey Price for the win.
The Senators who had been in, and lost, shootouts their past two games would avoid it for a third straight night, as they deafeated Montreal 2-1 in overtime.
SenShot’s Three Stars
1. Josh Gorges - Led the habs penalty killing unit while logging over 11 minutes of short handed TOI and continuously sacrificed his body to block shots.
2. Colin Greening - Tried to get things going early with a fight, and played a physical game all night long. Scored the Sens only goal in regulation to tie the game.
3. Carey Price - Was solid for his team and helped them go 9 for 9 on the peanlty kill. Made 31 saves on the night and with much of the play in his end, he had to stay focused and sharp even when he wasn’t getting shots right on him.
It was an ugly game to watch and the Senators will certainly need to step it up tomorrow against Toronto but they got the job done. They scored when they needed to and got the two points. “First Place Friday” was a success as the team climbed to the top of the Northeast division but they need to keep winning if they want to stay there. That means knocking off another division rival tomorrow at Scotiabank Place, this time the Maple Leafs. Until then, Sens fans.