The bubble seems to have burst for the Montreal Canadiens after getting points in 13 out of 14 games before their loss last night against the Buffalo Sabres. This evening the Senators came into town and put the Habs on ice, taking an easy 4-0 victory with Danny Alfredsson leading the way and Patrick Lalime shutting the door.
It’s not like the Canadiens started poorly like they did against the Sabres, in fact on this night they were the better team for the first while. They dominated the play and had the Sens pinned on more than a couple of occasions. Unfortunately they couldn’t get anything by Lalime, and as a result, when the Sens scored against the flow of the play, the Canadiens collapsed and basically let
At 8:22 of the first Craig Rivet was unable to handle his man, Smolinski, when Alfredsson sent in a pretty pass. Smolinski managed two shots, including his own rebound, the second of which went in a tiny space that Theodore couldn’t close thus giving the Senators the lead on only their third shot.
Slowly but surely the Senators took control of the game and at14:41 with the line of Ribeiro struggling to get the puck out, Alfredsson picked up a loose puck from a scrum on the side boards and popped home his 30th to send the visitors up by two.
The second was all
While the Canadiens could have used that as the turning point in the game, they instead decided to abandon all effort and a terrible play trying to corral a loose puck in the neutral zone by Quintal resulted in a two-on-one where Alfredsson scored his second on the night.
In the third, the most remarkable thing about the Habs was the injury to Ribeiro who lay on elbows and knees for two or three minutes after falling awkwardly into his opponent. Whatever the injury, it ended up being relatively minor as he made it back for his next shift after taking a moment or two behind the Canadiens bench to regain himself.
From his vantage point on the bench he was able to witness another poor defensive play as Perreault completely left his man in the neutral zone allowing the Senators to break in three-on-two. Two nifty passes later and Spezza one-timed a perfect shot to make the score 4-0 and make the rest of the game nothing more than a formality – and the Habs played exactly like that except for one or two shifts by the captain’s line.
Unfortunately, the Hab fans who have managed to boo plenty of first rate talent out of town decided to make themselves heard on this night. From about the second period on, newcomer Kovalev was the recipient of the drunkards chorus and one would think that, after hearing the boos and having such a short grace period, Kovalev might reconsider his happiness in Montreal. Perhaps Canadiens fans will look back at this game as the one where the chance to resign a star player got away. Certainly there were those on the ice that played far worse than Kovalev yet didn’t receive the same treatment.
As the game fizzled to the final whistle, the obvious concern for Julien was finding a way to motivate the troops from their obvious lethargy and get them to play the 60 minutes as they’d been doing for so long. He has until Saturday night, and a game in Boston against the Bruins, to figure it out. Let’s hope answers can be found.