Jean-Gabriel Pageau may never want to go to sleep.
Who would want to find out that all this was a dream?
The game ultimately turned into a circus of fighting and mayhem, a course of events which Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean alternatively labelled as “dumb” and “stupid.”
But in terms of the skilled part of the game, it was all about Pageau, the pride of Gatineau, who scored the hat trick in the Senators 6-1 romp over the Montreal Canadiens.
The Senators now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Tuesday at Scotiabank Place. It sure seems like the Senators have control of things, but then again, the momentum in a playoff series can sometimes turn on a dime.
In addition to being the scoring star, Pageau spent the third period being seranded with “Pageau, Pageau” chants from the sellout crowd of 20,249, and when he completed the scoring with only 1:58 remaining, the Scotiabank Place ice surface was littered with hats from fans celebrating his hat trick.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson is the only other Senator to have scored three goals in one playoff game, doing it twice during the 1998 playoffs.
Pageau, who played a grand total of nine regular season games after being called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League, acknowledges it’s difficult to digest everything that has gone so right for him, so fast.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it,” he said, the hat trick puck sitting in his locker stall above him. “The players were real nice to me after the game. The fans were real nice to be. I think they gave us a good push when we needed it.”
Pageau found the cheering for him motivational.
“I just tried to keep my composure and I wanted to keep pushing myself and I didn’t want to disappoint them after that.”
Pageau was responsible for breaking the 1-1 tie early in the second period and for giving the Senators a 3-1 lead early in the third. After Kyle Turris padded the lead to 4-1 shortly afterwards, the rest of the game was all about dropping the gloves and trying to settle scores.
The ugliness began when Ryan White of the Canadiens slashed Zack Smith across the ankles following Turris’s goal, resulting in everyone on the ice dropping their gloves and pairing off. Jakob Silfverberg and Pageau, again, completed the scoring, but the final period was more about players trying to get in as many dirty shots as possible.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien claimed that MacLean was embarrassing his team by calling a timeout with 17 seconds remaining and the Senators already ahead 6-1.
“I don’t like when a when a coach makes comments and a coach tries to humiliate our team,” said Therrien, referring to MacLean’s comments earlier in the series, which he found disrespectful. “I don’t like that.”
MacLean, speaking afterward Therrien, was quick to respond.
“I have 10 players left on my bench and I put them on the ice and I didn’t know what was going to happen next,” said MacLean of the rationale behind his time out call. “I felt bad for the referees. I brought the players back to the bench because I didn’t want to get anyone hurt. It was getting dumb enough as it was. We’re not giving them a freebie (to fight a Senators skilled player). There was already enough of that.”
MacLean says “it got a little bit stupid in the end, but that’s hockey.”
Until the Senators built up their three goal third period lead and the gong show of fights started, it was a decent, tight game. The Senators came out hitting, getting an early goal from Daniel Alfredsson. Rene Bourque replied for the Canadiens in the first period.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Senators
Hard to believe he thought he was on the verge of being sent to the ECHL, one step below the AHL, at the start of the season. A playoff hat trick? They may not sleep in Gatineau for a week.
Ryan White, Canadiens
What was he thinking? Slashing Zack Smith across the ankles with Matt Kassian, Chris Neil and Jared Cowen all on the ice. All White did was serve to get himself and his teammates roughed up, ultimately turning the third period into a gong show.
WHY THEY WON
They took the Canadiens sparkplugs out of the game physically early and took advantage of Canadiens breakdowns early in the third period to put the game out of reach.
A split-second after J-G Pageau beat Carey Price high to the stick side to give the Senators a 2-1 lead, P.K. Subban clipped him in the mouth with his stick. Pageau’s celebration included looking for his lost tooth on the ice. As the crowd cheered, Senators trainer Gerry Townend was wiping blood off Pageau’s face. In Game 1 Craig Anderson lost a tooth. In Game 2, Price lost a tooth.