Canadiens bounce back, tie series

Give the Montreal Canadiens credit. Faced with a injury-depleted lineup, the Canadiens answered back with an impressive 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Friday, evening the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

Canadiens bounce back, tie series
Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his second period goal with Brandon Prust #8 against the Ottawa Senators in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 3, 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

MONTREAL — Give the Montreal Canadiens credit.

Faced with a injury-depleted lineup, the Canadiens answered back with an impressive 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Friday, evening the best-of-seven series at a game apiece.

The Canadiens took full advantage of their scoring opportunities, out-hit the Senators, received an impressive bounce back game from goaltender Carey Price and sent the very strong message that they wouldn’t allow the Senators to waltz into Montreal and steal the opening two games on their Bell Centre ice.

Instead, the message was that the Senators will be in for a very tough fight before this series is wrapped up, either way. The game ended with “Ole, Ole” chants in the air and with a scrum of angry men battling for space in and around the Canadiens net.

Ah yes, the series is young, folks.

Games 3 and 4 will be played at Scotiabank Place Sunday and Tuesday.

While the Senators stormed back with a three-goal third period to win Thursday’s series opener, the Canadiens were solid Friday in holding on to the 3-1 lead they had built up after two periods.

There are many concerns for the Senators.

–First and foremost, they need a spark from the abysmal power play, which went 0-for-4, including an 0-for-3 effort in the first period when they had a chance to take control.

–Related to that is the lack of sustained offensive chemistry, as MacLean continues to shuffle his forward lines. Once again Friday, Kyle Turris was removed from a line with Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson in favour of Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

–Defenceman Erik Karlsson, who had a strong opening game, took a step backwards Friday, guilty of a ghastly giveaway on Ryan White’s game-opening goal and looking a tad fatigued.

For all that, the game was still up for grabs until Michael Ryder’s goal with 1:03 left in the second period, which allowed the Canadiens to take a 3-1 lead into the final period.

Moments before the Ryder goal, the Senators were a few great Price saves away from tying the game on a power play. Price robbed Daniel Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar and Mika Zibanejad in a span of 30 seconds.

Milan Michalek’s goal, a tip on a Chris Phillips shot during a delayed penalty call, had given the Senators life after Ryan White and Brendan Gallagher scored only 1:53 apart early in the period to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.

White’s goal was the result of a comedy of errors deep in the Senators’ zone.

White intercepted Erik Karlsson’s ill-advised backhanded clearing attempt, knocking the puck out of mid air. As he chased the puck towards the net, it slipped between Anderson’s legs. It was part of a rough night for Karlsson.

The Bell Centre was suddenly alive. With the crowd still buzzing, Gallagher was left all alone at the side of the Senators net, chipping the puck over Anderson.

Both teams made lineup changes from Game 1.

For the Canadiens, it was out of necessity, with Gabriel Dumont, Jeff Halpern and Colby Armstrong inserted for the injured Eller, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty.

For the Senators, Andre Benoit came in for the suspended Gryba. The biggest surprise was MacLean’s decision to put heavyweight Matt Kassian in the lineup for rookie Cory Conacher, a move designed to try and keep the Canadiens from owning the game physically.

It was the Canadiens, however, who came out hitting, with P.K. Subban and Brandon Prust delivering some big early blows.

GAME FILE

CHEERS

Carey Price, Canadiens

Only a night after getting booed in his own building for allowing a couple of weak goals, Price rebounded with a stellar performance. His best stops came on one of the rare good Senators power plays late in the second period, first sliding to his right to rob Daniel Alfredsson and then sliding left to steal a goal from Sergei Gonchar. He ended up with 29 saves.

JEERS

Senators power play

The referees gave the Senators every chance to take control of the game, handing three power plays in the first period alone and four overall. The Senators looked disorganized for the most part, generating little sustained pressure and giving momentum back to the Canadiens.

WHY THEY LOST

The Canadiens took advantage of the loose pucks around Anderson, but the Senators didn’t do the same at the other end. If Anderson outplayed Price in Game 1, Price had the edge in Game 2.

GOALIES KEEPING THE TOOTH FAIRY HAPPY

Early in the second period, Josh Gorges’ skate caught Price flush in the face. Price casually skated to the players’ bench, deposited a lost tooth to the trainer and returned to the net, blood on his mask. In Game 1, Craig Anderson lost a tooth when he was hit in the mask by a Rene Bourque slapshot.

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