Senators 2, Canadiens 1 (OT)
It took extra time and plenty of extra effort, but the Ottawa Senators now lead the Northeast Division and sit in second spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Filip Kuba ended what had been a long Friday night of frustration, taking a pass from Daniel Alfredsson and beating Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price with 1:53 left in overtime.
The goal gave the Senators (37-25-10) a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens (28-32-12), allowing them to leapfrog a point ahead of the Boston Bruins, vaulting them all the way to second in the Conference as the divisional leader. The Bruins have played two fewer games.
“It feels great, obviously, to lead the division, but it was hard for us to get there and it’s going to be even harder to stay there,” said Kuba, who had not scored in his previous 11 games. “We know we’ve still got 10 games left in the regular season, so it’s pretty important for us to play strong and finish the season hard and that’s our biggest focus.”
There’s no rest for the Senators, as they return to Scotiabank Place Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For most of Friday’s game, the ice was tilted in favour of the Senators – they outshot the Canadiens 33-14 – but for the longest time, they had nothing to show for their efforts. Due to their domination, they drew an even 10 power plays – including an extended 5 on 3 edge to start the second period – but couldn’t score with the man advantage.
Senators coach Paul MacLean “their penalty killing was outstanding or our power play was awful, or a combination of both”, but he was encouraged that the players didn’t hang their heads.
The patience was rewarded when Colin Greening scored at the 6:27 mark of the third period to tie the game 1-1, ending the long spell of frustration.Greening went to the net and picked up a loose puck after Zack Smith’s pass from the corner cleared the crease to Greening. The goal came on the 27th shot against Price. It wasn’t pretty, but Greening was hardly complaining.
“That thing could have gone off my face and in and I would still be happy,” said Greening. “You want to stay positive. You tell yourself if you do the right things, good things will happen and that’s the same way with everything in life. You know, we didn’t score on the power play, but do you pack it in? No. That’s not the way it happens.”
The Canadiens carried a 1-0 lead into the final period, thanks to a Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal only 8:18 into the first period. Plekanec crossed the blueline, created space for himself with a nifty deke on Matt Gilroy and rifled a slapshot over trapper of Senators goaltender Ben Bishop.
Price received some good luck along the way. Milan Michalek hit a post in the first and last minute of the second period. Jim O’Brien rang a backhand off the iron late in the first period. Yannick Weber also saved a goal when he deflected Erik Condra’s shot into an empty net, following a casual clearing attempt by Price out of the corner.
Meanwhile, it was an easy night for Bishop, who is now 3-0-2 in his five starts. He faced only 14 shots, including only six after the first period.
Why they Won: They pushed and pushed and pushed some more, finally getting rewarded when Filip Kuba took a Daniel Alfredsson pass and beat Carey Price in overtime.
Stud: Carey Price, Canadiens: It has been an awful season for Montreal, but it would have been even worse without Price, who keeps stealing points the Canadiens don’t deserve. He made 31 saves Friday,
Dud: Senators power play: What else? The Canadiens were nabbed for six consecutive penalties in the first and second periods – including a 1:33 stretch with a 5-on-3 advantage where they generated one shot – and produced nothing. The Senators ended the night 0-for-10 on the power play. They’ve now been held without a power play goal in seven of their past eight games.
MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: Milan Michalek hit the post in the first minute and last minute of the second period, fitting bookends to a frustrating period where the Senators power play fizzled and they could find no answers against Carey Price. Jim O’Brien also flipped a backhand off the post in the first period.