With back-to-back matinee games for Montreal some would question if the Canadiens would come out with the same energy as they did just 24 hours ago. Well an early interference call on Tomas Plekanec at just 24 seconds in and an almost as early goal by Jakob Silfverberg would be enough for a team to throw their hands in the air and say “woe is me”.
However no one informed the hockey public just how much of an impact the returning Max Pacioretty would have on this Montreal lineup. Just seven days removed from an emergency appendectomy, “Super Max” was back on the ice for the Canadiens and already producing on his very first shift. With the puck deep in the corner Pacioretty had the patience of Job to wait near the top of circle for the puck to come to him where he threw a harmless puck towards Ottawa tender Craig Anderson where it was redirected by David Desharnais to tie the game and score his first short-handed marker of the season. He (Desharnais) now has an even strength, power play and short-handed goal to start the season. With little DD waking up will this rub off on “Wolveretty”?
Midway through the period Francis Bouillon worked the Senators defense to allow him to walk in and shovel the puck to Erik Cole whose hesitation forced Anderson to slide left giving Cole an open cage to bury his second of the campaign. Assists credited to Bouillon (4) and Subban (2). The physical play was present as well with Brandon Prust and Chris Neil going back and forth who were sure to drop the gloves later in the game but to my surprise did not. One thing that Montreal did not display in their previous losses this season was discipline and the first 20 minutes displayed a great deal of discipline which was key in today’s matchup.
The physical play continued in the second period and we also witnessed a phantom penalty call as well as a make up call. First rearguard Josh Gorges while skating hard for an icing call goes into the boards alongside a Senator’s player and was called for boarding. Essentially given two minutes for playing hockey. Then just 1:23 later defenseman Erik Karlsson was called off for high-sticking while being taken down by Plekanec. All squared up as far as I am concerned.
Montreal’s aggressive fore check provided much more time in the offensive zone while the line of Pacioretty-DD-Cole found each other a few times exchanging scoring chances almost at will. Then the discipline factor kicked in when Lars Eller took a seemingly pointless roughing penalty wrapping his arms around Borowiecki and then offsetting penalties with Eric Condra called for tripping and Francis Bouillon for embellishment. The sloppy play continued for Ottawa with Kyle Turris hooking Captain Brian Gionta. The penalty march continues it seems. While on the power play Montreal was able to set up and move the puck around aggressively resulting in three shots from Subban hitting the net just one time. With a shot as hard as his I feel bad for Brendan Gallagher who was given the unenviable task of parking in front of Craig Anderson. Luckily he still his front teeth unlike a former Canadien. Ahem Michael Cammalleri.
Early in the third period Montreal would survive a scare, of some sorts, with Ottawa’s goal being disallowed due to alleged goaltender interference Jakob Silfverberg. A point could be made that Price skated into Silfverberg nonetheless it is two minutes in the sin bin. After a successful penalty kill the Ottawa Senators began playing with a much more sense of urgency for the first half of the third period. After Rene Bourque left a dent in the post both teams traded chances with Montreal coming away with the lead and scoring opportunities yet the score remained 2-1 in favour of Montreal.
With the Bell Centre crowd singing “Ole Ole Ole” with minutes remaining I start to think these are the people I want on my side. I mean who else has the stomach to do something like that in this era of hockey with a one goal lead late in the third period? With the net empty the Senators threw all they could muster Carey Price’s way but was there on each occasion to shut the door preserving the victory for Montreal, their second in as many games. With Ottawa’s game tying goal being disallowed and then being penalized on the play took the wind out of their sails but did not emotionally defeat them as they came back pushing harder and harder. Unfortunately this loss was a bit hard to take considering the penalty call was bogus then again so was the call on Plekanec just seconds into the game.
In closing, another two hard fought points for Montreal who was outsized but definitely not outplayed in today’s game. Carey Price stopped 32 of 33 shots for the first star of the game and was there every time the defense broke down or when a shot got through. While Ottawa has a hot goalie in Anderson Montreal possesses a tender who can steal a game as well which is exactly what he did this afternoon. Up next for Montreal are the Boston Bruins who are playing exceptionally well themselves thus far and will present the Habs with a physical brand of hockey as well. Is Montreal ready to match toughness with the B’s? If their play up to now is any indication we as Habs fans will be excited to see how our team matches up this time around with the Boston Bruins.
GO HABS GO
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