Six minutes into the first period the Canadiens were down 3-0 and struggling against the Ottawa Senators. Their offense suddenly kicked in and and the Canadiens scored seven goals in a row and skated away with a 7-4 win in Ottawa. Max Pacioretty had a five point night, including a hattrick. Other Canadiens goals from Andrei Markov, Mike Weaver, Lars Eller and David Desharnais. For Ottawa it was Zack Smith with two, Alles Hemsky and Mika Zibanejad. Peter Budaj stopped 39 shots as Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 43-23. The three stars were Pacioretty, Thomas Vanek and Desharnais.
Adding It Up-
Embarrassed – Just over two minutes into the game P.K. Subban failed to control Zack Smith in front and Ottawa led 1-0. Two minutes later on his second shift of the game, Subban was the second half of a double deflection in front. Alles Hemsky credited with the goal. 4:35 into the game and two Subban shifts, the Senators led 2-0. Fairly or not, Subban was nailed to the bench the rest of the period. His period stats – two shifts and 37 seconds total. He was released from the doghouse in the second and third periods and wound up with just over 13 minutes total another season low for him. He was also minus-3 in the game.
Not Great Either – Ten seconds into the game Clarke MacArthur got around a flatfooted Andrei Markov to get a shot on Budaj, forcing Tomas Plekanec to take a hooking penalty. The penalty killers did their job but it was an team omen for which Subban took the heat. Later, Markov then failed to pick up Zibanejad who set up Smith for his second goal and it was 3-0 and we were only 5:50 into the game.
Fatal Flaw – Many think the Senators collapse this season has as much to do with their goaltending as anything else. Those who favour that argument need only look at the goal that put the Canadiens back in the game. Markov chased down an Alex Galchenyuk dump into the corner and from behind the goal line near the corner banked the puck off Craig Anderson and in. 3-1. Then it was Mike Weaver on a screen shot and it was 3-2. A total of five goals scored in the first ten minutes of the game.
Repeating History – With Ottawa, the worst lead in hockey is not two goals but three. Ten days ago the Canadiens came back from a three goal deficit against Ottawa with less than four minutes remaining to eventually in overtime. It happened to them again. Or they did it to themselves. Take your pick.
Pure Magic – There was a goal by Lars Eller in the middle of it, but the last two periods were all Desharnais and his very close friends. It will be hard to match that poetic flip saucer pass that Thomas Vanek sent to Max Pacioretty to send him in on the breakaway to tie the game. Then with it 4-3,all Pacioretty. Daniel Briere pushed the puck past Weircioch at the Canadiens line and he had his third breakaway of the game and second goal. 5-3. And then it was Vanek to Desharnais to Pacioretty for the one timer and the hattrick early in the third. And then Vanek to Pacioretty to Desharnais, who could have taken a lunch break before putting it past Anderson, the Canadiens seventh straight goal and lights out..
The Final Count – Pacioretty – 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 shots on goal – plus-3; Vanek – 3 assists, 3-shots, plus-2; Desharnais – 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 shots, plus-2. Pacioretty has seven goals his last four games, Vanek has eight points his last five games.
Bad Call – The Canadiens had just made it 4-3 when Zack Smith went hard to the net against Mike Weaver. Weaver went down and slid into Budaj. The rebound came to Chris Neil who put it in. But it was ruled goaltender interference – no goal. Obviously the Senators hated the call and for good reason. If the call had been reversed would have it changed things? Probably not, as porous as the Ottawa defense was on this night.
Reality Check – The Canadiens weren’t very good despite their seven goals. They had a terrible start. They were being outshot 7-1 in the first five minutes and down 3-0. After tieing it up, they were then outshot 30-12 over the final two periods. Try that against the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night and see what happens.
Also Worth Mentioning – First thing that crossed my mind when the Senators made it 3-0 six minuites into the game was get Budaj out of there. He had a horrible .778 career save percentage against Ottawa and it looked like it was going to continue. But Michel Therrien left him in there and while his team was scoring seven consecutive goals he made 32 saves, some of them pretty difficult, before he gave up that late goal by Zibanejad. …..The Canadiens got Mike Weaver as insurance when Josh Gorges went down. Gorges is coming back from his broken thumb next week. Some accommodation is going to be made to keep him in the lineup, he has been that good. ……On paper, the idea of Tomas Plekanec between the two kids Gallagher and Galchenyuk looked brilliant. On the ice, not so much. It’s not clicking. I have no idea how to fix the problem, but right now offensively, the Canadiens are again a one-line hockey club. ……..The only one who has benefited from the change is Brian Gionta who is playing some of his best hockey on a third line with Daniel Briere.
The Race for Home Ice – The Canadiens complete a four game road trip taking 6 of eight points. They have now won nine of their last eleven games. With four games left in the season, the win puts them two points ahead of Tampa who are back to holding a game in hand. Don’t forget ROW (regulation and overtime wins) which the Canadiens lead by two. In effect, right now the Canadiens lead Lightning by three points because of that ROW tiebreaker.
Scoreboard Watching – The Canadiens host the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at the Bell Centre. At the same time the Tampa Bay Lightning will play the Dallas Stars in the third of their six straight home games. They’ll pick up their game in hand Tuesday against Toronto while the Canadiens next game will be Wednesday in Chicago. Fun times.