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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 43 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
The Canadiens took their four-game win streak to the Nation's Capital on Wednesday night and were soundly beaten by the Ottawa Senators 5-1. That's 0-2 against division rivals this season as undisciplined hockey on the part of Montreal, namely a four-minute roughing/unsportsmanlike conduct cocktail in the second period by Ryan White, changed the momentum of the game.
The first period was not the finest display of hockey in this young NHL season as both teams looked like they were playing their second game in as many nights. The Montreal powerplay opened the scoring as Andrei Markov put the puck on net along the sideboard and Tomas Plekanec got some help as the puck slipped between Craig Anderson`s legs. Ottawa answered back two and a half minutes later on a fortunate bounce in front of the net, which Jim O`Brien poked into the net. Both sides were very undisciplined with Montreal taking three minor penalties and two fighting majors while Ottawa put up six minor penalties.
It was White`s indiscipline in the second period that allowed Daniel Alfredsson to score his first of the season on another fortunate bounce for the Senators. His double minor gave Ottawa its second power play goal a minute after Alfredsson scored as Mika Zibanejad`s shot from the top of the faceoff circle changed direction on Peter Budaj, putting the Senators up 3-1. The Senators express kept rolling as Chris Phillips unleashed a bullet one-timer from the blue line a minute and a half later, extending the lead to three.
Ottawa withstood the Canadiens' third period flurry and Anderson made the big saves when he needed to. Chris Neil scored on a wraparound with just over five minutes left to really put this one out of reach. The urgency was there and it's positive to note that they didn't lay down and accept their fate. But, a loss is a loss and the Habs will look to rebound Saturday as they host the Sabres. Budaj made 22 saves in the loss while Anderson stopped 31 shots for the win.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Tomas Plekanec – Opened the scoring, albeit on one of the easier goals of his career. He was always involved, or trying to get involved in the play and was a solid presence on the penalty kill. He was the best of the bunch on this night
Stats: 1 goal, 0 rating, 6 shots, 0 hits, 1 takeaway, 1 giveaway, 8/20 faceoffs, 19:36 TOI
2nd Star: Andrei Markov – Kept up his powerplay point streak going on the Habs' only goal and played a solid game on defence. His -2 rating was not his fault. His vision and passing is at times sublime and would probably have liked to take advantage of the Senators' shorthanded situations but all in all, calming, solid D from the Russian.
Stats: 1 assists, -2 rating, 0 shots, 0 PIMS, 1 takeaway, 1 giveaway, 23:51 TOI
3rd Star: Colby Armstrong – From his first shift he was setting the physical tone. He was noticeable on every shift and his presence was disrupting for the Senators. Good night of work put in by Armstrong on the whole.
Stats: 0 pts, -1 rating, 5 hits, 2 shots, 1 blocked shot, 10:53 TOI
Honourable Mention: Alexei Emelin – Continuing to see rapid development from Emelin. Was a little unfortunate for the deflection on the third goal but aside from that, made good passes, hit hard and made strong defensive plays.
Stats: 0 pts, 0 rating, 1 shot, 1 blocked shot, 1 takeaway, 4 hits, 2 PIMS 18:39 TOI
Stat of the Night: Unfortunately this one goes to the double minor White took in the second period. It was a shot to the bow and the Habs only recovered at the start of the third. The initial call was questionable to me but the unsportsmanlike conduct called that followed was unacceptable. I wouldn't be surprised to see White in the press box come Saturday.
- NHL Stat Sheet