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Against a depleted Senators team the Montreal Canadiens were able to extend their winning streak to eight games last night. Canadiens head coach Bob Gainey’s decision to start David Aebischer, in favor of the red hot Cristobal Huet paid off as Aebischer pushed aside 44 of 47 shots.
The first period was dominated by the Senators, but it was the Canadiens who struck first, with Mike Ribeiro and Alex Kovalev playing keep away from the Senators defenceman behind the net. Mathieu Dandenault crept in from the blue line and received a pass from Kovalev, Dandenault one-timed the puck into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Under five minutes later the Senators pulled even when rookie sensation and NHL +/- leader Andrei Meszaros wired his wrist shot thorough a maze of bodies, off the goal post and in. Patrick Eaves and Vaclav Varada picked up assists on the Senators goal.
When the third period ended the Senators had out shot the Canadiens by a 21-6 count. The Senators enjoyed the only two power plays of the period but were held at bay by the Canadiens penalty killers.
While enjoying their third straight power play the Senators earned their first lead of the game. After Aebischer had made the first two saves, Danny Heatley swooped in and buried his 46th goal of the season. Heatley’s goal set a franchise high for the Senators breaking Marian Hossa’s record from the 2002-2003 season. The Senators lead would not last long , just eleven seconds later Alex Kovalev stole the puck inside the Senators blue line and launched a low shot towards Senators goalie Ray Emery. Emery left a juicy rebound for Mike Ribeiro who slid the puck into the net for his 15th goal of the season.
Before the third period ended Aaron Downey and Brad Norton dropped their gloves at centre ice but neither decided to throw a single punch. Both players were given ten minute misconducts for nothing more then delay of game, and received a round of boo’s from both the Senators and Canadiens faithful.
The Habs would extend their lead to three on their third power play of the evening. It would be Jan Bulis who would cap off a beautiful passing play from Kovalev to Ribeiro through the neutral zone. Bulis scored for the second game in a row after being a healthy scratch for five of the previous six games, Bulis is just one goal away from 20 on the season.
Before the game ended Danny Heatley would strike again, with eight minutes left he scored his second goal of the game and broke his second single season Senators record. This time it was Alexei Yashin’s single season point record of 94, which was set in the 1998-1999 season.
1. Alex Kovalev
2. David Aebischer
3. Chris Higgins
1. David Aebischer made 44 saves last night which is a career best for the young Swiss born goalie.
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3. Antoine Vermette was the only Senators player to not record a shot on goal last night.
4. Mathieu Dandenault has a +10 rating since the Olympic break.