Along with outshooting the Senators 43-21 the Canadiens got goals from each of their four lines. Paul Byron scored twice including an empty netter. Jeff Petry had a goal and assist. Andrew Shaw’s game-winning goal was the 100th of his career.
The teams will meet for the fourth and final time this season a week from Saturday at the Bell Centre.
SLOW OFF THE MARK
It was obvious that the Ottawa game plan was to take the game to the Canadiens. They were successful for the first eight minutes of what was an entertaining and wide open first period. Carey Price had to make early saves on Magnus Paajarvi and then Brady Tkachuk just before Mark Stone scored the game’s first goal. But Petry‘s floater evened it up twenty seconds later. From that point the Canadiens found their skating legs which included a transition game that had to bring a smile back to Claude Julien‘s face. At one point the Canadiens went through a 20 minute stretch where they outshot Ottawa 15-2.
The Canadiens defence has been legitimately maligned for much of this season but top-to-bottom Ottawa’s defence is in another classification. After being fairly competitive in the first period Thursday night the Canadiens took ownership, with the Corsi possession numbers in the second period at 72% and 70.9% in the third.
The Canadiens attempted 75 shots to only 38 for the Senators. In the two games this week shot attempts were a lopsided 159-87.
CAUSE AND EFFECT
Shea Weber has been back five games. The domino effect on the entire defensive unit has been quite remarkable. Weber has sucked up a lot of the ice time that some of the less talented members of the defence had been forced to shoulder. Brett Kulak has come up from Laval and settled in as Weber’s partner. He had a very good night especially when he opted to go on offence.
And with expectations along with their ice time reduced to a more reasonable level David Schlemko and Mike Reilly have picked up their game. .
This was Carey Price‘s sixth straight start. One can only be encouraged. Ottawa took it to the Canadiens early in this game and Price was good with the momentum of the game on the line. He also was solid in the final five minutes of the second period after Colin White had narrowed the score to 3-2. In four of his last five starts Price has limited opponents to two goals.
This was a really good night for the Canadiens fourth line. Dropping Kenny Agostino down with Michael Chaput has made a world of difference. With the game on Ottawa ice, Nicolas Deslauriers came back into the lineup replacing Matthew Peca. A check of the advanced statistics showed that the Canadiens had a 75% territorial advantage when the line was on the ice which put them right up there with the other three lines. . They were good enough that Claude Julien gave the three of them almost twelve minutes of ice time where previously the fourth line was getting around seven or eight minutes.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
…..Brendan Gallagher scored his 13th goal of the season on his eighth shot of the game. He finished the game with nine, giving him 107 shots on the season and that puts him among the league’s top four shooters.
….Jesperi Kotkaniemi won six of nine faceoffs. He was the only centre over 50%. As a team the Canadiens were again at 43%.
….We talk of the Weber effect, but Paul Byron‘s return after a month on the injury list has also had a profound effect. Byron scored his first goal since coming back by creating a turnover and then using his speed to get a return pass in front of the net. His second goal was an empty netter. It’s obvious Byron is a major improvement over Charles Hudon on the line with Kotkaniemi and Lehkonen.
….During each of Weber‘s five games since his return to the lineup the Canadiens have produced over forty shots on goal while giving up an average of 2.2 goals
….The Canadiens special teams were minus-1 again. The Canadiens power play was 0-for-3. In the league only LA and Chicago are worse.
….Over the last two and a half seasons the Canadiens have run up an 8-1-1 record against the Senators.
The win by the Canadiens combined with a Boston loss moved the Canadiens up into the first Eastern Conference wild card berth. The Canadiens continue the three game road trip in Chicago Sunday before moving on to Minnesota on Tuesday. It is possible defenceman Noah Juulsen will return to the lineup on Sunday.