Montreal Canadiens Take Season Series with 3–1 Victory Over Ottawa Senators

Jean-Yves Ahern/USA Today Sports

It’s finally over. A well anticiapted match between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators simply could not have been any better for the Habs and their fans as the club swept the nation’s capital by a final score of 3–1 on Saturday night’s edition of Hockey Night In Canada.

This was a crucial match for both sides as the Senators were behind Montreal by just a single point in the Atlantic Divison following back-to-back Canadiens losses earlier in the week against both the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes. That in mind, Montreal holds steady while remaining atop the division at this time.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Going into the game’s first period, Montreal players went in with strategies all set in place after having participated in back-to-back practices at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, QC.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Speaking of which, after a light session which got underway at 11:00am ET on Saturday morning, Habs head coach Claude Julien met with the local media where he announced that veteran goaltender Carey Price would be getting the nod against opposition Craig Anderson, meanwhile, it was also noted that line changes included Dwight King replacing Andreas Martinsen and Brandon Davidson replacing Nathan Beaulieu.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Back to the opening period of play downtown at the Bell Centre, things got off to an aggressive start from the moment the puck drop at 7:00pm ET qith Michael McCarron taking over those duties for Andrew Shaw who had been slumping as of late, therefore, keeping him mainly focused on his stellar defense. Anyways, moving ahead in the first twenty minutes of play, the Canadiens claimed their first power play of the night at the 11:00 minute mark, and that is when Shea Weber got right back into things, breaking out of his scoring slump with his seventeenth of the season, giving Montreal an early advantage. Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk both recorded assists on the play. This would be all she wrote heading into the game’s first intermission.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Moving onwards to period two, it took no longer than just one minute and thirteen seconds to get the scoreboard running again as Andrei Markov slapped home his fifth goal of the season on a solid pass from team captain Max Pacioretty. Arturri Lehkonen also recorded an assist on the play.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

If you thought Montreal was done there, I can re-assure you they were not. Fast forward now to the fifteen minute mark, it was the 38-year-old defenseman who was at it again, this time on the power play while doing so on his own, knocking it wide of Craig Anderson’s left side, giving the Habs a 3–1 lead early into the competition which was going against all odds with predictions pointing to Ottawa as the betting underdog prior to puckdrop. This was Markov’s sixth of the season and many hoped he was not done yet.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Fast forward seven minutes later, the time for Guy Boucher’s club finally began to show as Jean Gabriel-Pageau got busy in the Habs zone, after having missed earlier in the period while alongside Tom pyatt near Price at Montreal’s net, however, did not miss this time as he placed the Senators on the scoreboard with his tenth of the season, now trailing by two points. Mike Hoffman assisted on this play, and one again, that would be the result through forty minutes of action in-front of a playoff atmosphere, perhaps even louder than it was a week ago.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Before the final minutes started to count down, Kyle Turris had it coming for Ottawa as he nearly got one past Carey Price, which would have cut their trail down by just one point, however, with such a battle of Anderson against Price, any ability such as what the two of them share was very much needed on display and that is exactly what they got, though, it wouldn’t do much to help either side in the end, which would ultimately close things out heading into the third and final period of the night.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

Neither side had anything to show for the third and final period of the game on a cold night at and around the Bell Centre in Montreal, however, efforts most certainly were made as Turris, who was mentioned earlier, showed no shortage of his spectacular talents as he attempted yet again to get by Carey Price, however, help from Canadiens teammates Markov and Weber, it simply made for no way possible that Ottawa would find themselves another goal on the night, and that led to head coach Guy Boucher walking across the ice and into the team’s clubhouse with just 1.8 seconds to go after another call was challenged by Claude Julien which you would expect when the steaks are as high as they were. Officials were called at the replay centre in Toronto, however, upon review, no goal was determined and the horn then blew early, giving the Habs a 3–1 victory, keeping them sitting steadily atop the Atlantic Division which was the initial hope going into a game where there truly were no shortage of nerves from the front office, to the coaches, to the players, to the fans.

After the game, Julien spoke to the media about the help that this win gives his team where he said, “The benefit right now is the fact that we bounced back from two losses in one game tonight and it was a big game against a good team. A team that’s played well, that beat Pittsburgh, that beat Boston this week. The fact that we just won that game, I’m not looking so much at the fact that we beat them three times, but more that how we played tonight and how we were able to come back and win. Julien also went on to add, “If we take the other scenario, if we don’t win tonight, you guys are probably panicking right now.

When asked about what his personal status would have been if the Canadiens lost tonight, Julien responded, “I don’t panic. I fix things. I don’t panic. But that’s what it does for us. I think it’s good that we win. You don’t want to extend your losing streak. Even though we got a point (from a 2–1 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings last Tuesday) it’s still two losses in our mind and we came back with a big win tonight.”

The Habs are scheduled to get Sunday off, however, they will get right back to work on Monday morning at 11:00am ET for a scheduled practice session at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal for photo day, all of which will remain closed to the public. That will be followed the fifth of a six-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars with puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm ET.

The game will be available for viewing on Sportsnet East and RDS, meanwhile, it can be heard on TSN Radio 690.

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