The Ottawa Senators, one of two playoff bound teams from the Northeast Division struggled mightily against the Montreal Canadiens this past season. The Senators limped to a 2-3-1 record in the six meetings between the clubs and their two victories still allowed the Habs to pick up points.
Montreal outscored the Senators 17-10 with three of six contests needing an extra frame or shootouts. Outside of Montreal’s lopsided 6-2 and 5-1 victories, the games were close. Two games went to a shootout, with each team picking up a victory, while the Senators won one in overtime. Montreal squeezed out a 2-1 regulation win in the team’s first meeting of the season
One of the main factors to the Canadiens success against their division rivals was the play of Carey Price. He started all six games, posting a 4-0-2 record, and never allowed more than two goals in any game. The Senators outshot Montreal 202-150 in the series and Price turned aside 192 of those shots, finishing with a 1.67 GAA and a .950 save percentage.
Ottawa went through three goaltenders, Craig Anderson putting up a 1-3-0 record in four starts, which he got pulled twice, Habs alumnus Alex Auld who came in relief once for Anderson in a losing cause (Anderson was given the loss after allowing three goals on five shots) and Ben Bishop, who posted a 1-0-1 record in two games and a bit, as he came on in relief for Anderson briefly in the first period of the final game between the two. The trio allowed 17 goals on 150 shots, putting their save percentage just below .900
In a bit of an oddity compared to what usually happens when the Canadiens score first, the Habs opened the scoring five times out of six, all in the first period, and went on to win three of those games. They managed to put up eight out of a possible ten points when getting on the board first, which is an anomaly for the club when taking the blown leads during the entire season into account.
Erik Cole proved to be the Senators killer, scoring six goals, three of which came in the first period of the last meeting of the season (which was a Canadiens record for fastest hat-trick scored by a Habs player to begin a game) and added an assist. PK Subban scored a goal and assisted on four while Tomas Plekanec scored three, two of which were shorthanded, and added two assists. Lars Eller also scored shorthanded against the Senators. Jason Spezza was the only real problem for the Canadiens, scoring three and assisting on two.
The season series itself was pretty docile until the end of the year, when the clubs met three times inside of two and a half weeks. There were two fighting majors apiece between the two teams in the fifth game of the six pack but it was the final meeting that really turned ugly. There were two fighting majors and three misconduct penalties handed out by the end of the first period. By the end of the game, a total of nine misconduct penalties were given out, three to the Canadiens and six to the Senators. Chris Neil led the way with two misconducts and a fighting major with a few minor penalties along the way for good measure.
The way the season ended between the two teams should make for interesting games next year. Ottawa is one of the teams Montreal will be chasing for a playoff spot and it warms the belly to know that they took 10 out of 12 points against their closest (in distance) rival. As always, there are things to work on, like not allowing the Senators an average of eight to nine more shots per game. But in the end, what matters are the two points and the Canadiens did a good job of getting them in this case.