The Ottawa Senators hoped to avoid their third loss in a row on Tuesday night against
Carey Price the Montreal Canadiens. While the Habs came into the game having yet to lose in regulation at home, the Sens haven't experienced quite the same success as of late. And the prospect of standing up to the best goalie in the world is certainly no easy task, but it was one that the Sens were up for.
If the first period were a book, its title would be All the Penalties and No Goals (trademark pending). With a total of nine penalties and 24 PMs called in the first period alone, with no goals to show for it, it was a test of each team's penalty kill to say the least.
The first one came early on in the game, as Mark Borowiecki was called for cross checking on Brendan Gallagher. However Montreal's power play wouldn't last long. Just one minute after Borowiecki's call, Alex Galchenyuk went to the box for tripping Zack Smith. Aside from a huge save by Craig Anderson on Paul Byron, who found himself all alone in front of the net, there weren't too many scoring chances on either side in each short-lived power play.
When Ryan Dzingel found himself in the penalty box for interference on Alexei Emelin about halfway through the period, it was again Anderson who kept the Sens from giving up another power-play goal. He stood tall, including stopping a shot from Shea Weber. I think we can all agree he deserves some sort of award for making that look easy.
The Sens' first decent scoring chance came from Ryan Dzingel, who broke into the offensive zone with (as always) impressive speed, only to be taken down by Jeff Petry. Petry would get called for interference, but the Sens once again came up short in their man advantage.
Both Andrew Shaw and Chris Neil didn't think there were enough penalties in this period. So the two of them decided to get into a bit of a tussle after their respective minor calls. Of course, they both sat for fighting, and no one scored. With less than one minute remaining in the period, Mike Hoffman didn't want to be forgotten. He was called for travelling (throwing the puck) when he caught the puck in mid-air, and threw it into the offensive zone rather than dropping it down to himself. As a result, he finished the period in the penalty box.
And of course, that's exactly where Hoffman would start the second. But unlike the first period, the lack of goals didn't continue into the second frame. Just 26 seconds in, Shea Weber let a bullet of a shot go from the point, beating Craig Anderson and opening up scoring for the Montreal Canadiens. This was Weber's 7th power-play goal of the season, and marked the 8th game in a row that Ottawa has given up the first goal. So this period was off to a great start.
It felt like things could spiral out of control quickly for the Sens when Kyle Turris was called for tripping, just over a minute later. Luckily, the Sens' penalty kill was able to hold down the fort during this one, preventing the Canadiens from going up by two early on.
But it didn't take too long for the Sens to respond. After Paul Byron went to the penalty box for hooking, Mike Hoffman would end his scoring slump with a short-side goal from the bottom of the circle. It's one thing to end a scoring drought with a goal that ties the game for your team, but to end it against Carey Price is also much-needed boost for Hoffman.
Despite the relief that came with Hoffman's goal, the Sens weren't able to celebrate for long. Under two minutes later, Alexander Radulov broke into the Sens' zone, beating Hoffman before getting direct access to Craig Anderson, and scoring Montreal's second of the night.
In a bizarre turn of events, the Sens tied up the game with just under five minutes left in the period. Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard found themselves with a two-on-one opportunity. After Hoffman faked out the defender, he passed it to Brassard, who missed the original shot, but then attempted to slide the (very small) rebound past Carey Price. It appeared that Price stopped the rebound as well, and play continued. However, when the play finally stopped under a minute later, the save was reviewed, and it turns out the puck actually crossed the goal line. It may not have been pretty, but just like that, the Sens tied things up 2-2.
The Sens would take another penalty before the second period came to an end, with Chris Neil getting called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Much like most of the penalties before this one, the Sens managed to at least finish the remainder of the period without allowing a goal.
The third period didn't get off to a great start for the Sens. Within the first minute, captain Erik Karlsson was sent to the penalty box for tripping Paul Byron. On that very power play, Alex Galchenyuk gave Montreal the lead, sending a shot from the top of the circle into the net. Once again, Montreal had the lead. But not for long.
Under a minute later, Mark Stone tied things up for Ottawa. After Erik Karlsson sent a high-flying puck into the Montreal's end, Derick Brassard picked it up behind the net, passed it to Mike Hoffman who quickly redirected it to Mark Stone. Stone made no mistake, tipping the puck into the back of the net and tying the game.
This was no ordinary game-tying, third goal. This goal marked the first time that the Sens have scored three goals in regulation time, in 13 games! Much has been made about the Sens inability to score goals recently, but tonight the team didn't seem to have that problem. Maybe it's the prospect of playing against the best goalie in the game that gave the Sens some extra motivation. But regardless of the reason, it looks like their scoring troubles were put on hold for this game.
The offence would continue for the Sens, as Erik Karlsson scored his fourth goal of the season, and 400th career point, just two minutes later. Karlsson sent the puck towards Montreal's net from the boards, and got some help from Jeff Petry's skate, which redirected it into the back of the net. The Sens met and exceeded the three-goal mark, and took the lead, with Karlsson's goal.
Montreal would make it interesting near the end, in case this game wasn't already interesting enough, pulling Price and sending out the extra attacker. But Craig Anderson and Sens managed to hold them off, and got themselves a much-needed win in Montreal. This was Carey Price's first regulation loss of the season.
Sens Hero: Craig Anderson
It isn't too often that a goalie allows three goals in a game and gets the undisputed (in my opinion) hero of the game, but it was just that kind of night for Anderson. He stopped 36 of 39 shots from the Canadiens, and finished the game with a .923 SV%. But it was his timely saves that kept Ottawa in the game when they needed it most that made the difference tonight. Whether he was keeping the Sens out of trouble during the penalty kill, flashing leather on multiple occasions or not spontaniously combusting after standing in front of a shot from Shea Weber, Anderson deserves full credit for this win.
Sens Hero: Mike Hoffman
Much has been talked about regarding Hoffman's recent offensive troubles. But he certainly put all that talk to bed tonight, breaking his scoring slump (against Carey Price of all people), and picking up two helpers in the process. It seemed like Hoffman was all over the place tonight, ready to pounce on any scoring opportunity that came his way.
Sens Hero: Mark Stone
I feel like I'm handing out hero labels like candy tonight, but Stone had the exact same stats as Hoffman, and it was a little challenging to pick just one. Stone was just as much a part of this offensive burst from the Sens as Hoffman, with a goal and two assists on the night. It seems like when the Sens needed scoring most, their best players stepped up and got the job done.
Honourable Mention: Derick Brassard
His goal may have been a little awkward, but Brassard helped spark the very offence that the team has been starving for all season. He scored his second goal in three games, and deserves a shout out for playing a key role in jump starting his teammates in this game.
Sens Killer: Shea Weber
This may be the closest we've come to using the literal definition of killer on this site. Shea Weber's slap shot is nothing to joke about. The sheer thought of being anywhere near an ice surface when he winds up from the point is enough to keep most players awake at night. And tonight, he registered five shots on goal, a few of which were stopped by Anderson without a flinch. For scaring the daylights out of players, media and fans alike, Weber gets killer status tonight.