SERIES REVIEW: Heartbreakers – Ottawa beats Montreal in five.
The atmosphere which always envelopes Montreal during this time of year couldn’t have evaporated quicker. What began as a hopeful march ever closer to another Stanley ended suddenly and dramatically last night when the Canadiens crashed out of the postseason thanks to a masterful Ottawa Senators squad.
Despite having home ice advantage, the Canadiens didn’t get their campaign off to a good start. Star defenceman Erik Karlsson got the Senators on the board towards the end of the first period, and it took until 13:09 of the second period for the home side to level the score, on a Rene Bourque backhander. The Habs then actually took the lead less than a minute later on a Brendan Gallagher wrist shot, but that was it for the team’s scoring for the night. Ottawa came out blazing in the third period, scoring 3 goals in just over 10 minutes to retake the lead and put Game 1 to bed.
Montreal were lucky to get away with a win in this one considering how many powerplays they offered the Senators in the first period, but they survived and were able to take the lead off a partial breakaway from Ryan White in the second. Brendan Gallagher stretched that lead to 2 less than a minute later when he tapped in a beautiful cross-crease pass from fellow rookie Alex Galchenyuk. Ottawa made it interesting a few minutes later when Milan Michalek tipped in a point shot from Chris Phillips, but the Habs regained their 2 goal cushion 10 minutes later when Michael Ryder fired a sitting puck into the net following a brief scramble in front of Craig Anderson. The third period was scoreless, but was punctuated by a flurry of penalties right at the end of the game. indicating that this wasn’t going to be a pretty series and foreshadowing what was yet to come.
Game 3 saw the series move to Ottawa, and it was the home team that got on the board first thanks to a Daniel Alfredsson powerplay goal. Montreal made the game interesting several minutes later when Rene Bourque also scored on the powerplay, and it looked like it was going to be another close back and forth game. A total of 10 penalties in the first period alone, including several roughing minors, showed that perhaps a new rivalry was being born. The events of the second and third period proved it.
JG Pageau scored a hat-trick, whilst Kyle Turris and Jakob Silfverberg padded the score, with the final tally being 6-1 to the Sens. Funnily enough, though, it wasn’t the scoreline that will be the most remembered part of this game. It will be the line brawl and numerous aggressive penalties (all 40 of them in period 3 alone!) that both teams took that will be remembered for years to come, with many calling it an embarrassment to the game, others revelling in the passion on display, but everyone agreeing on the fact that this was most definitely the NHL’s newest heated rivalry.
Both teams had clearly had a talking to from their coaches prior to this one, as only 4 penalties were taken the entire game. Montreal looked to be taking over the game early in the second period, with PK Subban and Alex Galchenyuk both potting goals, Ottawa once again refused to lay down and die. Mika Zibanejad finally got the Sens on the board more than halfway through the third. The game still looked to be in the bag for Montreal, but then Corey Connacher – acquired at the trade deadline for Ben Bishop – fired one home with 23 seconds remaining in the game. Two and a half minutes into overtime, Kyle Turris ended the game on a deadly wrist shot, sending the series back to Montreal with the Habs hanging on by a thread.
It was time for an epic comeback, but unfortunately for the Canadiens they just couldn’t find a way past the dominant Senators. It was 2-1 Senators after the first period, so it began as a relatively close game, and even after the second it was just 3-1. Montreal just couldn’t get anything past stellar netminder Craig Anderson, however, and Ottawa just couldn’t stop scoring. The final score was 6-1 to Ottawa, sending all of Sens fandom into hysteria and breaking the hearts of Habs fans everywhere.
|MONTREAL CANADIENS||OTTAWA SENATORS|
|EVEN STRENGTH GOALS||6||13|
|TOTAL SHOTS ON NET||176||158|
|EVEN STRENGTH SHOTS||136||121|
|BLOCKED SHOTS ATTEMPTED||74||98|
|TOTAL SHOTS (ON NET+MISSED+BLOCKED)||309||314|
KEYS TO THE SERIES
- The teams were actually very evenly matched in terms of possession, both firing north of 300 total shots in just 5 games. Too close to call really in terms of who was more dominant at this discipline.
- The number of hits and penalties taken in just 5 games is simply insane, this series was an absolute battle. Both rosters have several feisty players, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, but it will be the hallmark of this series.
- The Habs really struggled to get pucks in the net in this one, scoring less than half the number of goals that Ottawa did. Craig Anderson was outstanding for the Sens, posting a sterling .950 SV% and 1.80 GAA, whilst Carey Price really struggled with a .894 SV% and 3.26 GAA before being sat for Peter Budaj in the Game 5 blowout.
- The Senators were able to convert on their chances, and received outstanding goaltending. Simple as that.