The Habs trailed for most of the game and were outhit and outmuscled considerably but in the end, none of that mattered as the Habs pulled out their second straight overtime win on Sunday night to take a 3-0 series lead against Ottawa.
Although P-A Parenteau was available to play, the Habs opted to keep their same lineup from Friday’s win together. The Sens, meanwhile, made two changes. Craig Anderson got the start in goal while Chris Neil replaced Alex Chiasson up front. That last move was a telling sign for how the game was going to start.
Unsurprisingly, Ottawa came out flying as they looked to get some early momentum. Although they didn’t score early, their physical play got them that momentum before long. Anybody in a white sweater was getting targeted as the Senators looked to impose their will on Montreal. The strategy worked as they were the better team for most of the period.
Clarke MacArthur opened the scoring on a play that had a bit of controversy. Earlier in the shift, P.K. Subban took a cross check to the side of the head that went uncalled. Moments later, a riled up Subban took a run at Erik Karlsson in the defensive zone. That took him out of position, opening up a mini two-on-one where MacArthur slid one past Carey Price for the lone goal of the period.
The only penalty actually called in the period was a minor hooking infraction on MacArthur; Montreal had several chances with the man advantage but were unable to capitalize. The shots on goal in the first were 12-9 Ottawa while the hit total more than doubled the number of shots as the two teams combined for 43 (27-16 for the Sens).
Unsurprisingly, the physical play toned down in the second…there were only 28 hits which is still a lot more than usual. Nathan Beaulieu seemed to draw a lot of attention from Ottawa in the frame which got the young defender off his game but the Sens didn’t capitalize on his couple of miscues. The period also saw a lot more back and forth action, especially towards the middle where there was more than a four minute stretch without a whistle.
In the first two games of the series, the Canadiens were the stronger team and that trend continued in this one. That is, except for one key thing – they didn’t score. Montreal had a multitude of chances (and a pair of power play opportunities) but were unable to get one past Anderson. The Habs outshot Ottawa 19-6 in the period but the Sens still had the lead heading into the third.
The final period of regulation saw Ottawa come out stronger than they did in the second but they were unable to double their lead. Milan Michalek took a penalty just before the midway point but Max Pacioretty took one just eight seconds later to negate the man advantage. Controversially, Devante Smith-Pelly had his stick broken off the draw; instead of a possible 5-on-3, it was a 4-on-4 (and given Montreal’s power play, that may not have been a bad thing).
The Canadiens were able to get on the board though. Some tweaking in the bottom six saw Dale Weise playing with Brandon Prust and Torrey Mitchell and the new combo worked. Prust was able to flail a pass out front that Weise knocked down and (barely) deposited the puck into a wide open net to tie the game. A Mark Borowiecki delay of game penalty gave the Habs a chance to take a late lead but their man advantage play resembled that of the regular season; in other words, the highlight was that they weren’t scored on. The two teams headed to overtime tied at one with Montreal leading in the shot category by a count of 40-27.
Ottawa came out flying to start the overtime, peppering Price to try to get the winner but the Habs’ netminder shut the door. Curtis Lazar took a boarding penalty just past the six minute mark but once again, Montreal’s power play was largely anemic, save for a Jeff Petry chance late in the man advantage.
Michel Therrien kept his rejigged bottom six trios together for the extra frame and it paid off. An Alexei Emelin clearing play off the glass made its way to Mitchell who fed it ahead to Weise. Weise skated in on a two-on-two break and beat Anderson short side for a bit of a soft winning goal but a game winner nonetheless to give the Habs a stranglehold on the series.
Price made 33 saves for the win while Anderson turned aside 47 of 49 shots in the loss. Aside from that second Weise goal, he played great and almost assuredly will get the start in a must-win game for Ottawa in Game 4. Neither team scored with the man advantage as the Habs were 0/6 and the Senators 0/2.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Dale Weise – Well, this one falls under the obvious category. Weise had a quiet first two periods but the line change sparked him en route to scoring both goals. It was a slow start for him but a very strong finish.
Stats: 2 goals, +2 rating, 3 shots, 2 hits, 12:56 TOI
2nd Star: Carey Price – Although Montreal overall played better in the game, there were some moments where Price needed to hold down the fort to keep it a one goal contest. He looked very calm, especially when the Sens came out aggressively in the overtime. This was his best game of the series.
Stats: 33 saves on 34 shots, 0.88 GAA, .971 SV%
3rd Star: Brandon Prust – The stats won’t tell you that he played all that well but Prust had a quietly effective game. He was particularly strong on the cycle and of course, set up the tying goal as well. A quiet, but effective outing.
Stats: 1 assist, +2 rating, 3 shots, 1 hit, 13:48 TOI
Honourable Mention: David Desharnais – There were a couple of instances where his Pacioretty tunnel-vision resulted in not getting a scoring chance but that’s the only concern I had for him. He played with an edge all game and even outmuscled some Senator players to get some scoring chances. Desharnais was also the lone centre that really stood out positively at the faceoff dot.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 3 shots, 1 hit, 1 giveaway, 11/18 faceoffs (61%)
Stat of the Night: Nathan Beaulieu played zero shifts in the third and overtime following a rough second period where he was a bit banged up. If there is going to be a lineup change for Game 4, he may be the one sitting.
Game 4 will go Wednesday night in Ottawa at 7:00 PM EST.