In a game featuring superstar defensemen Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators and Montreal's P.K. Subban , it was the fourth line of the Montreal Canadiens that started off the scoring. Brian Flynn scored on the open cage, as the puck dribbled across the crease and right onto his stick at the side of the net just under three minutes into the game.
Canadiens Test Anderson Early and Often
Dustin Tokarski got the call in net against the Ottawa Senators. He was called up with regular starter Carey Price injured. Craig Anderson started his 14th consecutive game for the Senators and was tested early. His record sat at 13-8-3 with a save percentage of .916 and a 2.76 goals-against average coming into the night. The Canadiens applied pressure right out of the gate and didn't slow down after their first goal. Anderson stood on his head in the opening period, stopping 25 of 27 shots. On a bad defensive sequence and lost coverage, Max Pacioretty scored on a partial break away from the left circle to make it 2-0 Montreal in the final minute of the first.
The dump and chase worked extremely well in the first period for the Canadiens, the Ottawa defenseman couldn't handle the speed of their fore check. No team in the league gives up more shots than the Senators and they stayed true to their colors being out shot 27-8 in the first period.
Montreal Maintains Aggressive Approach
The second period was no different. After an odd man rush that was broken up deep in the Canadiens' zone, Montreal roared back with numbers and Jeff Petry ripped a wrist shot blocker side on Craig Anderson just 5:39 into the second period. Montreal led 3-0. Max Pacioretty chased Anderson from the crease when the Canadiens kept on the gas pedal, causing a scrum in front of the net. Being pushed down in the Ottawa crease, Max pushed the puck between Craig's legs and into the net. Ottawa would bring Chris Driedger in between the pipes in place of Anderson. Upon video review however, the goal was disallowed and the score remained 3-0.
Senators Turn Pressure Up Late In Second Period
At 8:35 of the second period, Ottawa showed a bit of life and resilience as Alex Chaisson came in on a two on one sending a cross ice pass to Jean-Gabriel Pageau who buried the puck past Tokarski. At this point in the period. Ottawa was hitting the Canadiens defensemen every chance they had. The margin was 33-18 in favor of the Senators. This lead to more scoring chances and some steady pressure after the goal by the Ottawa. They fought back and lead the shots for most of the period. The shots ended 10-9 for Ottawa with Driedger and Tokarski both looking sharp with multiple big stops each to close out the second.
Ottawa Can't Close Gap Despite Power Play Chances
After some intense pressure by Bobby Ryan and a good scoring chance, the Senators forced Tomas Plekanec into taking a penalty. That put their league leading road power play on the job with eight minutes left in the third. Montreal has the best home penalty kill in the league and it was put to the test when Pacioretty took a hooking penalty, giving Ottawa a two man advantage for 34 seconds. Mike Hoffman had a chance to pull Ottawa within one as the first penalty expired, but the puck hit the right post.
With 12 seconds remaining after steady pressure and multiple scoring chances from Ottawa, Mark Stone took an interference call for bumping Tokarski in the crease. Driedger would make a huge stop on an Alex Galchenyuk one-timer late on the Montreal power play to keep the score at 3-1 in favor of Montreal. With 1:56 remaining in the third, Ottawa pulled the goalie looking for some more offense, but couldn't make up any ground.
Montreal snaps their four game losing streak with the win and Ottawa gives up a team record for shots in a period with 27. The hits were poured on as Ottawa lead the way 55-30, keeping pace with their playoff series last season. Driedger stopped all 11 shots he faced, including a three on one that he turned away in the third period for his best save of the night.
The Canadiens power play has struggled lately going 0-for-12 in their four game losing streak and just 1-for-19 in their last five games. The absence of an injured Brendan Gallagher has been apparent as they came away empty handed again tonight going 0-for-4. Montreal increases their record to 8-1-1 when scoring three or more goals in a game. The shots ended 42-26 in favor of Montreal.
Ottawa plays again on Monday, when they host the Los Angeles Kings. Montreal gets a bit of a break and doesn't play until Tuesday. The Habs play their second game of this home stand, hosting the San Jose Sharks.