The Habs were looking to take advantage of home ice to end their first round series against Ottawa but it was the visitors who had the last laugh, winning 5-1 on Friday night to force Game 6 on Sunday.
Michel Therrien opted to not make any changes to his lineup, stating beforehand that he was happy with the units he had in Game 4 despite the loss. Dave Cameron did make one switch for Ottawa, taking out Chris Neil and putting Alex Chiasson back in the lineup.
The early minutes of the game followed a very similar pattern to Games 1 and 2. Montreal came out with a ton of energy but were unable to score despite some strong chances. Towards the midway mark, Ottawa woke up and just like in those games, opened the scoring. Bobby Ryan picked up his first goal in over a month, squeezing the puck past Carey Price on a lengthy wrister that Price would love to have back.
Unlike past games though, Montreal wasn’t able to hold the deficit at one. A subpar effort from the third defence pairing and fourth line resulted in the Sens getting some pressure. Late in the shift, Brian Flynn blindly sent a pass up the middle in the defensive zone that went right to Patrick Wiercioch. The Sens’ blueliner waited for the screen to get set and then wristed one past Price for the first multi-goal lead of the series, an advantage they took into the break. The shots were 15-13 Montreal.
Again there was somewhat of a repeat from past games to start the second period. Early in the series, Montreal played well to start the second and good things would happen. The first part of that came true but the second one didn’t. The Canadiens had a couple of chances shorthanded early on which gave them some momentum but they couldn’t beat Craig Anderson.
Before the end of the period, Ottawa made the Habs pay for their inability to score. After David Desharnais took an unnecessary interference penalty, Erik Karlsson beat Price with a screened point shot to give the Sens a 3-0 lead heading into the third. Montreal more than doubled up the Senators in shots in the frame (11-5) but shots and shot attempts don’t mean a whole lot when nothing’s going in.
For a brief moment, there looked like there could be a comeback in the works as a Tom Gilbert shot went off Ryan past Anderson to get Montreal on the board. For the next several minutes, the Canadiens put the push on but to no avail.
As they did in the second, Ottawa made the Habs pay for not getting back into it. Andrei Markov tried to make a drop pass to P.K. Subban and, as was the case on many of their pass attempts on the night, was intercepted by Erik Condra who came in and beat Price on a breakaway to clinch it.
There was some rough stuff towards the end of the game as a Brandon Prust spear on Craig Anderson predictably didn’t go over too well. The end result was an Ottawa power play and Mike Hoffman beat Price on yet another screened shot to make it 5-1.
Anderson made 45 saves on 46 Montreal shots in another phenomenal effort while Price, who wasn’t at his best, allowed five goals on 25 shots. The Sens once again were successful with the man advantage, going 2/4 while Montreal was once again scoreless, going 0/3.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Lars Eller – Eller played a power game and really stood out as a result. He drove the net hard, was strong along the boards and in the cycle game, and also had a great back check to prevent a Mark Stone breakaway in the 3rd.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 4 shots, 10/15 faceoffs, 13:50 TOI
2nd Star: Tom Gilbert – In a game like this, it’s hard not to give the lone goal scorer a star. Offensively, he played quite well. Defensively, he was a bit suspect which has to be a tad concerning. But, a goal is a goal and he’s the only Hab to get one in the last two games.
Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 2 shots, 4 blocks, 18:25 TOI
3rd Star: Devante Smith-Pelly – He tried to create a spark with some hard, aggressive hits and he didn’t look out of place on the new-look lines in the third period. Nothing to show for it but he had a decent game.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 3 shots, 6 hits, 2 blocks, 12:33 TOI
Honourable Mention: Brandon Prust – He’d have been higher had it not been for the spear at the end of the game. Prust had a couple of good chances and like Eller, was strong on the cycle game. Beyond that last incident, he had a good outing.
Stats: 0 points, -2 rating, 4 PIMS, 4 shots, 3 hits, 11:30 TOI
Stat of the Night: 26 – The Habs had 26 shots that were blocked by Ottawa. The Sens, meanwhile, had only 25 that actually hit the net.
It wasn’t all good news for the Sens in this one as Clarke MacArthur left with a lower body injury. His status for the next game is uncertain at this time.
Game 6 goes on Sunday in Ottawa. It will be a slightly earlier 6:00 PM EST start time.