2013 Playoffs: Senators Win Big - the Legend of Jean-Gabriel Pageau is Born
What follows is how the legend of Jean-Gabriel Pageau was born. Eager to put Game 2 behind them, the Senators made two line-up changes ahead of their first home game of the playoffs. Cory Conacher drew back into the line-up, but in place of Guillaume Latendresse, not Matt Kassian as many had expected. Rookie Patrick Wiercioch made his NHL playoff debut, replacing fellow defender Andre Benoit. Montreal also made changes, with Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta returning to the line-up after missing Game 2 with injuries. The addition of both Pacioretty and Gionta meant this was a stronger Canadiens team than the squad that beat the Senators Friday night.
The tone of the game was set early. Shortly after puck drop, PK Subban tried to deliver a devastating hip check just inside the blue line at the boards. Fortunately for Erik Condra, he saw Subban coming, got his stick up, and cross-checked the Canadiens defenseman in the face. Now, Condra should have been penalized for his stick work, but he wasn't. Instead, Subban took the first of several blows and his frustration grew as the contact increased. Patrick Wiercioch's playoff debut ended prematurely; the rookie defenseman left the game with a lower body injury after playing just 1:47. Ottawa would be down to just five defensemen while playing their third game in four nights. This game was chippy from the start: after an early Jared Cowen roughing penalty expired with Pacioretty still in the box for the Habs, Josh Gorges took a hooking minor and joined his teammate. Ottawa's power play finally broke through on the 5-on-3. Captain Daniel Alfredsson got his first goal of the series, firing home a wrist shot after a nice set up from Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson.
The middle portion of the period was a parade to the penalty box for both teams as the officials struggled to contain the emotion from both teams. A physical game early, the Sens came out hitting harder and more frequently than in Game 2. With about five minutes left in the period, Rene Bourque evened the score on the power play, as a wrist shot trickled behind Anderson and a desperate Methot. Andy probably wants this one back. After another Sens penalty, the period ended tied at one.
The second period was relatively tame. Only three minor penalties and only one goal. But what a goal. To say Jean-Gabriel Pageau has looked like an NHLer since his call-up in April would be an understatement. He's looked great in his own end and on the draw and chipped in two goals in the regular season. But his first career playoff goal is the stuff of myth and legend. Pageau received a Gonchar pass full stride and fired a wrist shot past Carey Price. Pageau celebrated doubled-over, spitting up blood. Glove off, he picked something off the ice and skated to the bench to hand it to Ottawa's trainer. Yes, another player lost teeth in this series; Pageau's missing Chiclets the result of Subban's flailing high-stick as Pageau took his shot. The goal reduced the penalty to a two-minute minor, but the Senators couldn't capitalize on Subban's minor.
Subban's frustration boiled over in the period. Having already served two minor penalties, he was upset when teammate Pacioretty passed him the puck through the middle of the ice and he was left open to a big hit from Colin Greening. Subban left the ice slowly and shared some choice words with Pacioretty when Max skated back to the bench. While the Sens controlled the play for large portions of the game, the period ended with the Sens up by only one goal.
Pageau would add to his legend 1:18 into the third period when he put another wrist shot passed Price. The play started with a great play by veteran Chris Neil: rather than just dump the puck forward to Colin Greening or into the Habs end, Neil noticed the movement of Pageau, fed the streaking winger a pass, and Pageau carried the play into the Canadiens zone. Despite the eventual outcome of the game, the result could have been much different if not for Craig Anderson. Shortly after Pageau gave the Sens a two goal lead, Alfredsson was stripped of the puck by Gionta at the Senators blue line. Gionta was in all alone on Andy, but Andy stoned the Canadiens captain, preserving the two goal lead.
Two minutes later, the Sens broke the game wide open on a 3-on-2 led by Alfie. Alfie gained the zone and fed the streaking Karlsson, who directed the puck just wide of an open goal. Karlsson at 100% puts that puck in the net in his sleep but Sens fans didn't have to worry long, as Alfie followed the rebound behind the net and fed a pass to Kyle Turris, who wristed it top-shelf for his first goal of the playoffs.
On the following faceoff a line brawl broke out. The Sens scored their fourth goal at 7:00 of the third period. At 7:04, ten fighting majors, eight game misconducts, two ten minute misconducts, and one slashing minor were assessed. At 7:08, Jakob Silfverberg scored his second goal of the playoffs. Milan Michalek made a great play off the faceoff to get a quick pass to Silfverberg, and #33 kicked the puck up to his stick and wristed a top shelf marker past Price to make it 5-1.
The shenanigans continued a minute and a half later with roughing minors for Bourque and Conacher (though Bourque got away with an elbow on Conacher) and a charging minor for Josh Gorges. The focal point of this stoppage in play was Subban jumping Turris. Both received fighting majors, but after Subban continued to pound Turris when the Senator was down, #76 received a game misconduct, in addition to an instigator and an instigator-face shield penalty (gotta love that penalty, right?).
There was some more cross checking penalties, another elbow on Conacher (this time from Prust), a sucker punch on Conacher (from Gallagher) which led to a fight, and some slashing. This period was crazy. Absolutely batshit crazy. The last ten minutes were played with just two lines because each team only had ten skaters. Daniel Alfredsson and Tomas Plekanec ended the game on defense because of player shortages. Paul MacLean called a timeout with seventeen seconds to go, personally offending Michel Therrien and Josh Gorges and Gorges fired a puck at Turris, hitting Silfverberg, when the final whistle was blown.
Oh yeah and that Pageau kid had one more highlight up his sleeve. On a power play with just under two minutes to play, Pageau completed his first NHL hat trick in just his twelfth NHL game when Condra skated off the wall and fed #44 in the slot. The kid who was supposed to start the season in the ECHL finished the night with his hometown crowd chanting his name to the tune of "Olé, Olé, Olé" and when the first star of the night made it back to the dressing room? His teammates where chanting his name too.
Sens Legend: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Pageau is now a Sens playoff legend. His first playoff goal was memorable and his hat trick was the icing on the cake of the most dominant home playoff win in franchise history. That Pageau chant should be heard at SBP for years to come.
Sens Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
The captain came up big tonight. Considering all the difficulties the Senators have had trying to generate offense this season and the problems the power play has experienced, especially recently, Alfie's early goal was huge. Capitalizing on the first PP of the game set the tone for the night and he added two assists as well.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
Yes, the goal he let in was soft. But despite the final score, this game was close for 40 minutes. Andy made some big saves in the first and second period, but none bigger than his save on Gionta early in the third period. If Gionta converts on his breakaway, the game is close at 3-2 and the Sens have just let in a deflating goal right after they had scored. But that didn't happen because Andy is great.
Sens Hero: Cory Conacher
Sure, Conacher did his best Erik Condra impersonation in front of the net tonight, but he was buzzing and generating offense. More importantly, he drove Montreal crazy. For all the talk before the game and during the first intermission about how Brendan Gallagher was driving Ottawa crazy, Conacher seemed to have the same impact on Montreal. He was on the receiving end of three cheap shots, but didn't retaliate and still managed to stand his ground. Keep playing like that.
Sens Hero: The Power Play
As much as the power play sucked in the first two games, it was awesome in Game 3. The Senators converted on three power plays and the top unit looked more organized; Ottawa's cycle in the Montreal zone was efficient and less predictable. There's room for improvement, but Alfie, Gonchar, and Karlsson all looked much better with the man-advantage.
Sens Hero: Paul MacLean
MacLean did his job to get the Sens ready for Game 3; the team looked completely different from the lack lustre group from Game 2. But it was his time-out with 17 seconds left in the game that was noteworthy. It enraged the Canadiens, especially Therrien and Gorges, who felt "humiliated" by the move. Sure there was probably some trolling from MacLean in the act, but his explanation that he was trying to protect his players in a game filled with chippy play and dirty infractions rings true as well. MacLean has kept his cool in the war of words and has gained more supports and results for his team because of it.
Honourable Mention: Erik Karlsson
I had the unpleasant task of labelling him a zero last game, but tonight Karlsson was much better. No, he wasn't dominant, but his defensive game was much more reliable in Game 3. Ottawa's power play looked more organized and dangerous and some of the credit must go to Karlsson, who had two assists on the night. With no chance to rest Karlsson because of Wiercioch's early departure and misconducts to Cowen and Phillips, Karlsson logged over 28 minutes, but did not look fatigued.
Honourable Mention: Sergei Gonchar
For much the same reasons as Karlsson. The power play worked and Gonchar was part of the great puck movement. He had two assists and played almost 26 minutes.
Honourable Mentions: Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad
While Silfverberg had a goal, Zibanejad was kept off the score sheet. That's ok, that's not the reason they get mentions. Silfverberg and Zibanejad led all Ottawa forwards in ice time and were the only two Senators forwards to play over 20 minutes. That's pretty awesome from a pair of rookies.
Honourable Mention: Milan Michalek
Tonight's performance wasn't great from Michalek, but it was a lot better. He made a great play on the Silfverberg goal and had a couple chances of his own.
Habs Zero: PK Subban
Terrible game from Subban. Frustrated by the physical attention he received all night from the Senators, he finished the game with 25 minutes in penalties, including four minor penalties - by far the greatest total on either team. It wasn't just the opposition who frustrated Subban, a shouting match with teammate Max Pacioretty garnered much intermission attention and left the talking heads wondering about dressing room dissention. Subban can be much better and it will be interesting to see how he responds Tuesday night.
Habs Zero: Carey Price
Not all of the goals were his fault and his teammates did not provide much assistance, but this was another third period collapse for Montreal's starting goaltender and that's got to be concerning. Price made just 24 saves on 30 shots for a save percentage of .800. It will be interesting to see how Price responds to the four goals he surrendered in the third period on Tuesday night.
Habs Dishonourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher
He's been a thorn in Ottawa's side for the first two games, but in Game 3 Gallagher showed he can also get frustrated. Gallagher was -3 on the night, and let his frustrations show in the third period, sucker punching Conacher and starting a needless fight.
The Dr. Finewax1 Patient of the NightTM: Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Joining Lars Eller, Craig Anderson, and Carey Price, Pageau's missing tooth marked the third straight game in this series in which at least one player has lost a tooth or teeth. Hopefully his dental work is simple and won't require headgear (do kids still wear headgear when they get braces?).
Shanny's Black Book: Rene Bourque, Brandon Prust, and Brendan Gallagher
There was some questionable play in this game and elbows/punches from Bourque, Prust, and Gallagher will probably get reviewed. Of the three, Bourque seems to be the most likely to receive a call from the NHL's resident player safety expert Brendan Shanahan: Bourque has a history with this type of play, having been suspended for five games last season for elbowing Washington's Nicklas Backstrom. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if nothing happened with any of these incidents.
Injury Concerns: Patrick Wiercioch
Wiercioch hardly played tonight. Depending on the severity of his injury (since it's the playoffs, I don't think we'll find out what's up) he might not be available for Game 4. Eric Gryba has now served his suspension and is eligible to return in Game 4. My guess would be that MacLean inserts Gryba back into the line-up instead Andre Benoit.
1Dr. Finewax was my childhood dentist