OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 07: Bobby Butler #16 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens with his teammates on the bench in a game at Scotiabank Place on April 7, 2011 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Things didn't look good in the beginning, but the Ottawa Senators held back the Montreal Canadiens early-game push thanks to some solid play from Craig Anderson. The Habs had 11 shots before Ottawa got their second in the game, but the tide was held back. When Montreal finally did get a puck past Anderson, it was just one, and the Senators were able to keep pace and goals from Jason Spezza and Bobby Butler in the third period gave Ottawa the lead. A last-minute goal by Michael Cammalleri sent the game to overtime, but Filip Kuba -- of all people -- scored early in OT to end the game.
With a win in their final home game of the season, Ottawa played out the stretch with 5-1 in their final six games at Scotiabank Place. The positive signs that have been coming in this late push by the Senators have hurt Ottawa's draft position, to be sure, but they've also given fans something to look forward to during the off-season.
Sens Hero: Bobby Butler
Don't worry about it if you missed Butler's goal tonight: It'll be on all the highlight reels. After taking a nice drop pass from Jason Spezza, Butler cut in front of the net, making S.S. Hal Gill look like a pylon in the process, and shot the puck against the grain to the top-corner over Alex Auld's glove to give Ottawa a (short-lived) lead. Butler also had assists on both other goals for Ottawa for the first three-point game in his career.
Sens Hero: Derek Smith
D. Smith led the Senators in shots on goal tonight. He had seven. He played a very strong 17:03 TOI tonight, and didn't look out of place at all. The Canadiens are a team that sort of plays to his strength--they aren't physical, and his speed allows him to keep up with them--but D. Smith looked like an NHL defenceman.
Sens Hero: Jason Spezza
This guy, I tell ya... he's something else. Another two points tonight give him 22P in his last 14GP, which just makes me shake my head in incredulity. His goal was fine. His passes were great. Those blind passes and drop passes that everyone shits all over Spezza for? When they work, they sure look pretty.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
It was a slow start for the Senators, but it wasn't for Anderson. As the skaters played some uninspired hockey and were outshot 11-1 to start the game, Anderson was there to keep the Sens in it. He only made 27 saves on the night, but the Sens would have had a hard time if he didn't start the game so well. Anderson is now five wins behind Pascal Leclaire on the Senators' all-time list. Seriously.
Sens Zero: Francis Lessard
I'm not usually interested in piling on Lessard (to be honest, he usually just does what he's supposed to do, so I don't begrudge him that). But tonight, his hit on Tom Pyatt was reprehensible and avoidable, and set his team back with a five minute penalty kill. They killed it, but it was just a bad move all-around.
Sens Killer: Andrei Kostitsyn
Pretty good game for Kostitsyn on Thursday, as he fired a team-high six shots on Anderson and had an assist on Mike Cammalleri's game-tying goal. He didn't dominate, but he was probably the best player for the Canadiens.
Habs Zero: Hal Gill
The top shutdown guy for the Habs was a team-worst -2 on Thursday, and her earned both of those minuses. The first was Spezza's goal, with Colin Greening and Spezza just juggling the puck around him, and the second was Butlers which... well... just watch the highlights below. Gill's performance has got to concern Jacques Martin and the whole Habs team.
Milan Michalek was at his speediest, and had a couple decent scoring chances. ... Stephane Da Costa got a lot more time in this game with 11:42 TOI, and earned it with three shots and one great scoring chance. ... After shuttling from Binghamton, Colin Greening had a good game on Thursday, and used his size well to drive the net while paired with Butler and Spezza. ... Ryan Shannon was a huge part of the Senators' still-great penalty kill. ... Although he didn't get a point, P.K. Subban started the play that led to the game-tying goal. ... Finally, credit to David Hale for a textbook hit on Yannick Weber: Take away the options by angling him into the boards, cut down the angle, watch his chest instead of the puck, and step up. Hale timed it just right.
Chris Phillips just looked a little... disinterested on the night. He was definitely not in his top form.