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Ottawa Senators Lose 3-1 to Montreal Canadiens, Fall Behind in Atlantic Division Race

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It was their third loss to the Habs in eight days

Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators

Just as there is nothing more satisfying than beating the Montreal Canadiens, there are few things more demoralizing than losing to them. Maybe it’s because of their obnoxious fans, who aggressively insist they don’t care about the Sens when their team loses but mock them relentlessly on Twitter when they win. Maybe it’s the knowledge that their catchy goal song will be stuck in all of our heads for at least the next twenty-four hours. Or maybe it’s simply because we’ve gotten so used to beating up on the Habs every time we play them that the losses hurt especially badly.

I know that I had almost forgotten how it felt to lose to Montreal. I had been hoping these three games in eight days would be a great opportunity for the Sens to get their groove back, a little boost of morale in the middle of a small slump. Habs games are usually great for that. But while the Sens played a pretty good game tonight, they didn’t manage to beat their rivals, and that’s really all that matters.

The game had a nice pace right from the start, with some good back and forth and a few chances on each side. The first fight of the game came early on between Alex Burrows and Andrew Shaw, but nothing came of the ensuing penalties.

The Habs scored the first goal of the game courtesy of Shea “Better Than Subban” Weber, after Erik Karlsson took a questionable hooking penalty against Alexander Radulov. The Sens got a number of chances to tie the game after that, including one really nice shift from Pageau’s line, but didn’t manage to get anything past Carey Price. The period ended with Ottawa still trailing 1-0 but ahead in shots.

The second is where everything went wrong. Andrei Markov quickly doubled the Habs’ lead with his fifth goal of the season, only to score again on the powerplay a few minutes later. Both goals came in the midst of a particularly bad defensive zone sequence by the Sens. Less than halfway through the game, Ottawa had already dug themselves into a hole they wouldn’t be able to get out of.

Some hope was restored, though, when Hoffman fed Pageau for the Senators’s only goal of the game, with probably one of the nicest assists of his career. When Ottawa began the third period with a series of dangerous-looking chances, suddenly the 3-1 lead didn’t look quite so insurmountable. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person imagining an epic, last-minute comeback (because we all know anything can happen in Sens/Habs games).

But alas, it was not to be. Alexandre Burrows got the best scoring chance of the game, but hit the post so spectacularly that Erik Condra would have been proud. Carey Price also benefited from a few early whistles, which are always nice to see in Habs games.

Finally, with 1.8 seconds left in the game, Guy Boucher called it quits and walked out early, because he’s just that awesome.

While the Sens are probably better off second in the Atlantic, it always sucks to lose to a rival, and it’s not exactly comforting that they’re playing so poorly right before the playoffs. Let’s hope this is simply a case of lack of motivation and that they pull it together before the postseason, because I absolutely cannot handle another loss to the Leafs.

Sens Hero: Mark Stone

Man, was it nice to have this guy back in the lineup. He didn’t get any points, but was visible all night, and the effect he has on his teammates is always quite noticeable.

Sens Hero: Jean-Gabriel Pageau

It’s been awhile since JGP last scored on the Habs, hasn’t it? I was starting to worry about him. He had a pretty solid game all around, and scoring the only goal gets him the nod as a hero.

Sens Zero: Alexandre Burrows

I was rooting for Burrows, honestly. I like the guy. But I have to admit this was a bad game for him, as his only real contributions were a few dumb penalties. Let’s all hope he steps up during the playoffs, because he hasn’t exactly been doing much for the Sens lately.

Game Flow (via Natural Stat Trick)

Heat Map