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A banged up defence dropped a 4-2 contest to the Ottawa Senators in Kanata on
Wednesday night as the Montreal Canadiens sweat on the health of key players. It was a battle of the second and third stringer goaltenders for Montreal and Ottawa as Dustin Tokarski got the start and Ottawa was forced to play AHL starter Andrew Hammond after injuries to Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

Alexei Emelin promptly injured what looked to be his shoulder 20 seconds into the game and left the ice after falling awkwardly into the boards. He would not return. Both teams tested each other’s backup goalie early and often, with Brandon Prust coming close, beating Hammond but not the far post. Ottawa would hit their own post at the midway point of the period as the score remained 0-0.

P.K. Subban responded with a shot off both posts a minute later, in what was a real back and forth period. It turned out to be an unlikely goaltender duel as neither netminder would budge during the period. Shots were 14-13 in
favour of the Senators as the score remained tied 0-0 after 20 minutes of play.

The Canadiens started the second period in an attacking mood, but Hammond withstood the early barrage. Ottawa took the game’s first penalty and while both teams had good chances to open the scoring, neither could close the deal. A Subban penalty near the midway point of the period put Ottawa on the man advantage, where again both teams had good chances, but neither could capitalize. Ottawa would find the opening goal shortly after the penalty expired off a goalmouth scramble for a short-lived 1-0 lead, as Max Pacioretty tied the game up 8 seconds later, following the faceoff at centre ice.

The game almost took an ugly turn as Eric Gryba looked to turn back time with a near head shot on Lars Eller at centre ice. A stalemate scrap between Prust and Mark Borowiecki soon followed, which was then complimented by a Canadiens penalty. Subban took a shot off the ankle during the penalty kill, which sent him to the Canadiens dressing room, with five minutes to play, as the penalty was killed off. Prust also left the ice briefly following his fight, but returned minutes later.

Ottawa regained the lead late in the second period on a nice feed from Erik Karlsson to Jean-Gabriel Pageau for the easy finish. The wild second period would come to an end with Ottawa leading 2-1 and Montreal slightly leading 30-29 in shots after 40 minutes.

There was some good news to start the third period as Subban started the opening shift as he played with a noticeable knock. The tempo was not where it was for either team in the opening minutes of the third. An Ottawa penalty a little over five minutes into the period did not generate much for the Canadiens. Ottawa got a chance of their own on the powerplay shortly after their penalty expired and would make it 3-1 on another goal mouth scramble with 10:33 to play.

Montreal began to turn the screws in the latter half of the period and it eventually paid off with Nathan Beaulieu’s tipped shot beating Hammond to make it 3-2 with 5:35 to play. That was the young blueliner’s first NHL goal. Montreal pulled Tokarski and Ottawa iced it with the empty netter. It ended 4-2 Ottawa with shots
favouring Montreal 44-39.

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star – P.K. Subban

That’s pure heart to come back out and finish the game after being visibly hobbled from a shot block. They may have lost the two points, but that performance registered with everyone in that organization.

0 goals – 1 assist – -1 rating – 1 shot – 2 hits – 0 takeaways – 30:45 TOI

2nd Star – Dustin Tokarski

Poor guy. Granted he’s not in the same class as Carey Price, but man, he can’t catch a break lately.
He made great saves and gave Montreal a chance with an obliterated and tired defensive unit.

35 saves on 38 shots – .921 save percentage – 3.05 GAA

3rd Star – Nathan Beaulieu

I thought he handled himself well. He was unlucky on the first goal with a nice play at the blue line but got himself on the board for the first time in his career. Hopefully that’s the first of many.

1 goal – 0 assists – even rating – 1 shot – 0 hits – 0 takeaways – 24:00 TOI

Honourable Mention – Andrei Markov

That couldn’t have been easy for the veteran defenseman. He was sharp most of
the night and still had some jump at the end. Smart defensively, likely wanted more offensively, but great pass on the Pacioretty goal.

0 goals – 1 assist – -1 rating – 3 shots – 0 hits – 1 takeaway – 28:51 TOI

Stat of the Night

4.5. Montreal was robbed of a defenseman within 30 seconds of puck drop and were reduced to four defensemen for a quarter of the second period before getting half of Subban back in the third. Thursday may be a another tough one.

Following the game, the team recalled Jarred Tinordi from the Bulldogs (who
beat Rochester 4-1 on Wednesday night).  Michel Therrien noted that Tinordi
will play against the Panthers, suggesting that Emelin will not be available for
at least that game.