Tonight's contest against the Montreal Canadiens was supposed to mark Senators veteran Chris Neil's return to the line-up after missing the last six games. Instead, Matt Kassian was slotted into Neil's spot during the warm-ups. An early power play opportunity for the Sens went quickly south when Josh Gorges blocked a Jason Spezza shot attempt. The puck deflected to Travis Moen, who fed it to a streaking Tomas Plekanec. With Kyle Turris, who was playing the point on the power play, caught flat-footed, Plekanec broke in on Craig Anderson and put a wrist shot past Craig Anderson. Despite the early deficit, the Senators pressured the Canadiens in Montreal's zone, with the Turris line looking particularly dangerous. Mark Stone took a tripping penalty toward the end of the period, and the slumping Canadiens power play was able to take advantage. Max Pacioretty put a wrist shot past Anderson, but Montreal's movement resulted in some defensive lapses for Ottawa, as the Sens penalty killing forwards got crossed up. Just over a minute later, Montreal added another when David Desharnais slipped passed Mark Stone and put a wrist shot past Andy. It was a poor play from Stone, who drifted away from Desharnais, the player he needed to be covering.
Going into the dressing room down by 3 would have been harsh for the Senators. While the Sens had defensive breakdowns on each Habs goal, Ottawa outshot Montreal 19-7 in the first. With less than 3 minutes to go in the period, Erik Karlsson made a statement. A slap pass to Clarke MacArthur in the slot was tipped by the winger and directed toward the net. It wasn't the quickest moving puck and was from far enough out that Carey Price probably wants that one back. Despite the poor goal, Price looked sharp all period but didn't get a lot of help on Ottawa's second goal. Again, Erik Karlsson was at the centre of Ottawa's attack. After passing the puck along the blue line to captain Jason Spezza, Karlsson raced to the front of the net. Spezza sent a gorgeous return pass to Karlsson, who deposited the puck into a wide open cage.
The second period was a continuation of the first for the Senators, minus the defensive mistakes. Ottawa continued to dominate possession and entered the offensive zone with ease. The Turris line looked dominant, generating a good chance for Bobby Ryan as he walked out from the corner and took the puck to the crease. Midway through the period Michalek took the puck and walked out into the centre of the ice but was robbed by Carey Price. Karlsson continued to look dangerous. Late in the period with Ottawa pressuring the Habs in the Montreal end, Jared Cowen fed Bobby Ryan at the side of the net. Ryan moved the puck out of his skates quickly and put a shot on net, but slide across the crease to rob him with the toe save. Seconds later, Price continued to robbery on Mark Stone. Spezza sent an excellent fed from behind the net to Stone, who fired the puck from the slot top corner, but was denied.
It was a totally dominant period for Ottawa, but the Sens were still down by 1 late in the period. With less than 3 minutes left in the period Bobby Ryan broke his 7-game scoring slump in fine fashion. Ryan blasted a snap shot top shelf past the seemingly impenetrable Price to tie the game at 3. It was Ryan's best period in a few games and he was rewarded with his 19th goal of the season. Montreal had its best chances of the period after the Ryan goal, but Andy turned away efforts from Brendan Gallagher and Desharnais. Erik Karlsson picked up the rebound after one Montreal chance and led the breakout, dishing off to Clarke MacArthur. MacArthur sent the puck to Turris, who deked then put a backhand top shelf for a beautiful goal. The Senators dominated possession in the second and led the shot count 38-17 after 2 periods.
The third period was less frenetic. Midway through the period Montreal tied the game at 4. At the Montreal blue line, Jared Cowen made an ill-advised pass to the man down low. There were 3 Canadiens in his passing lane, but Cowen forced the play instead of dishing it along the boards or back to Karlsson. It was intercepted by Gionta who sent a nice pass to a streaking Plekanec. Cowen raced back, but doesn't have the speed to match most in the league. Andy bailed his defenseman out, but as he was putting on the breaks, the puck bounced off Cowen's skate into the net. The actual goal might have been bad luck, but Cowen's decision making at the blue line was inexcusable. Both teams played the rest of the period trying to get to overtime. This strategy made sense for the Canadiens, who had been shelled and badly outplayed all night, but for the Senators, who had dominated this game, it didn't make sense. And 23 seconds into overtime, P.K. Subban made Ottawa pay. With Karlsson pinned along the boards, Subban stepped around Cowen and put a puck on Anderson. Andy wasn't able to squeeze his pads and the puck trickled over the line. It was a pretty terrible goal. Montreal wins 5-4 OT. Shots 44-23 in favour of Ottawa. While the Sens shouldn't have been down by 3, they did manage to come back from that first period deficit. Ottawa needs to eliminate the defensive gaffs, but that was one of the Sens most dominant efforts of the season. 9 times out of 10, playing like that will lad to an Ottawa victory.
Sens hero: Erik Karlsson
Karlsson was awesome tonight. He drove Ottawa's offense all night. With Ottawa down by 3 late in the first period after controlling most of the play, Karlsson got the Sens back in the game in a matter of minutes. Karlsson looks more and more dominant.
Sens heroes: The Turris line
This line also helped drive Ottawa's attack all night. MacArthur had a goal and an assist. Kyle Turris continued his scoring streak. Bobby Ryan broke his goal drought. Most nights this would have been enough to secure an Ottawa victory.
Honourable Mention: Mark Stone
Stone was going to get a dishonourable mention after his first period. He took a penalty that led to a Montreal goal and failed to cover Desharnais on his goal. But he turned things around in second and third and had a few good chances but was robbed by Price. It's the kind of progress you like to see from a player so early in his NHL career.
Sens Zero: Craig Anderson
Andy had a tough night. Montreal's first four goals were the result or at least partly caused by defensive lapses. But the game-winning goal was incredibly weak and has to be a save. He did make some decent saves in the second and third periods, but that work is undone with his poor work in overtime. While he was solid for most of the night, a .783 save percentage on 23 shots just doesn't cut it at this level.
Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
Cowen recorded 2 points by virtue of passing the puck to Erik Karlsson. But his work on the tying and game-winning goals earns him a zero. The goals demonstrated that Cowen needs to make better decisions with and without the puck.
Sens Killer: Carey Price
Price was excellent. Ottawa could have reached double-digits in goals if not for Price. The Sens probably should have had a few more goals but Price made highlight reel save after highlight reel save, stopping 40 shots in total.
Sens Killer: Carey Price
Seriously, he was that good, especially through the first 2 periods.
Sens Killer: Tomas Plekanec
Plekanec potted 2 goals tonight, but frustrating from an Ottawa perspective. He scored a shorthanded goal to put Ottawa behind early and his breakaway resulted in the tying goal.
Shot chart via ESPN: