The Montreal Canadiens welcomed back the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night looking to snap their five-game winless streak. Dominique Ducharme decided to give Carey Price another chance after working in practice alone with goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
Josh Anderson once again was out of the lineup due to his injury but did rejoin the team at practice the last two days and is inching closer to his return to the lineup but remains day-to-day.
The Canadiens didn’t get off to the start they wanted as less than five minutes into the game, Joel Armia got called for a double-minor for high sticking Erik Brannstrom and the most penalized team in the league took another penalty.
Miraculously, the Habs managed to kill the penalty as after an initial flurry from Ottawa, Montreal did a decent job at denying them a chance to get set up. The momentum seemed to turn in Montreal’s favour after the kill and a couple of minutes later Alexander Romanov, got things going by levelling Brannstrom with an open-ice shoulder hit.
The Canadiens followed that up by applying pressure on the Sens and almost scored the opening goal on young goalkeeper Joey Daccord who got the start in goal for Ottawa. Matt Murray had the night off entirely with Filip Gustavsson serving as the backup.
Both teams went into the first intermission at 0-0 despite the Habs getting off to a slow start but finishing the period strong, outshooting the Sens 13-8 in the period.
The Habs kept the momentum going into the second period and Joel Edmundson got the first big chance of the period when he got a good shot off in close but Daccord would come up with the save. The Senators then started getting chances to score but Price stood tall early in net which was a good sign of things to come for the Montreal netminder.
There was a bit of a scary moment six minutes in as Jesperi Kotkaniemi was tripped as he came in on Daccord and bulldozed him and the net as he fell down to the ice but both players would be okay.
Montreal got their first power play of the game when Brannstrom was called for high sticking and gave the Habs their first chance to work on the man advantage. The sequence started when Gudbranson failed to gain the red line before dumping the puck in, resulting in an icing with Brannstrom taking the penalty soon after.
It didn’t take long as off the ensuing draw, Brendan Gallagher got a great pass from Corey Perry and beat Daccord to make it 1-0. To make things worse for the Sens on the play, Gudbranson, who stayed out for the penalty kill despite the long shift beforehand, got called for a double minor for high sticking Gallagher after he put the puck in the net and Montreal went back to the power play.
Two minutes later after pressuring the Sens in their zone Jeff Petry doubled Montreal’s lead with a slapper that went top shelf on Daccord to make it 2-0 for the Habs.
On the following play, Jake Evans got called for delay of game when he shot the puck over the glass and the Sens got another opportunity on the man advantage.
Philip Danault had a great chance to score shorthanded but Daccord made another stop and the Canadiens managed to kill the penalty once again.
With less than two minutes in the second period, there was a collision between Tim Stutzle and Joel Armia which left an opening for Artem Zub who would wire a shot past Price to make it 2-1, a score that held up to the end of the period.
Montreal once again had a great start to the period putting pressure early on in the third and doing a good job of putting the Sens on their heels looking for that third goal.
Halfway through the period, the tide was starting to turn, and the Senators were starting to apply pressure on Montreal’s defence and Price to try and tie the game but the Habs were doing a good job at mitigating that. It wound up being a period that featured few scoring chances on either side, something that suited the Canadiens just fine.
With 20 seconds left in the game, Tyler Toffoli sealed the win with an empty-net goal to secure the victory and put an end to their five-game winless streak.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Brendan Gallagher
Brendan Gallagher is the only player who will always give 100% no matter what the situation is and the only player that will crash the net and give up his body while taking punishment. That effort led to his goal tonight which was instrumental to his team getting the win.
Stats: 1 goal, +1, 3 SOG, 2 hits, 14:56 TOI
Second Star – Jeff Petry
Jeff Petry is one of the most reliable defencemen on the team and is someone who can be a big factor both defensively and offensively. He scored the game-winning goal on the power play and was solid on the back end stopping key chances from the Senators.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists, 2 shots, 2 blocks, 21:38 TOI
Third Star – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
He probably played one of the best games of his career in his one. He was all over the ice, on the scoresheet, and is really starting to come into his own. He was involved in almost every single major play on the ice and is trending in the right direction.
Stats: 1 assist, -1, 3 shots, 3/6 faceoffs, 12:50 TOI
Honourable Mention – Carey Price
After a couple of shaky games, he was fairly quiet but made some key saves when he needed to and the time in private with goaltending coach Stephane Waite seems to have paid off. He was moving a bit too much in his previous games all over the crease but tonight he calmed down and was pretty agile.
Stats: 26 saves on 27 shots, 1.00 GAA, .963 SV%