The Montreal Canadiens lost 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night to end their four game winning streak. The loss came on the heels of a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets the night before. This was the first back-to-back the Habs played this season and with three games in four nights (including Sunday against the New Jersey Devils), the Habs were simply worn out by the time they got to Ottawa.
The Habs opened the back-to-back against the Jets at their home, the Bell Centre. Both the Jets and the Habs entered the game on three game winning streaks and they played a close back and forth game.
Montreal took a quick two goal lead in the first period, with goals from Rene Bourque and Brendan Gallagher.
“As a line, we just try to take care of our end and try to bring momentum and help the team,” said Gallagher. “We’re having a lot of fun as a team.”
It was Gallagher’s second goal in as many games but the two goal lead was not safe. Winnipeg would score the next three goals to take the lead.
But then Erik Cole scored his first of the season with assists from young Gallagher and the younger Alex Galchenyuk. After two periods it was tied at three, and the game was very close.
Head Coach Michel Therrien was really impressed with the play of his rookies.
“They have [confidence] right now and I want to make sure we keep building that confidence,” said Therrien, “It’s a process working with young kids, and right now those two are bringing a lot of energy to our team, they work hard and they deserve the success that they have because of their work ethic and their passion.”
Just over five minutes into the third, Tomas Plekanec benefited from a lucky bounce of Ron Hainsey’s leg to secure the lead for Montreal. After the game, Plekanec was excited with how the team was playing, winning four straight.
“I remember back when we played with Kovy (Alex Kovalev) and Marky (Andrei Markov) and I think we were first in the league two years in a row,” said Plekanec. “I feel it’s pretty much the same now.”
Unfortunately, those good feelings evaporated only one day later with the loss to Ottawa. Montreal ran into a hot goalie in Craig Anderson and a pile of penalties on both sides. They couldn’t get anything going after the first period.
Plekanec opened the scoring against the Sens on the powerplay, only five minutes into the game. But that was the only goal the Habs would get on Anderson, who made 31 saves for the win.
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta didn’t shy away from complimenting Anderson.
“[Anderson] is a top-notch goalie,” Gionta said. “He made a few saves that could have changed things for us. That’s what happens when your goaltender plays [well]. You keep the momentum.”
Two of those saves came in the third period, and Montreal could have made the score 4-3. First he robbed Brandon Prust on a cross-crease pad save, then he dropped his stick down and kept Prust from scoring again seven minutes later.
But the bigger problem for Montreal was all the penalties they took. Ottawa capitalized on two of their five chances, and Ryan White was in the box for both goals.
White took a roughing penalty early in the second period, when the game was still tied at one. But he didn’t like the call and confronted the ref, who gave him an extra minor for his efforts.
“I never saw a player that was capable of making a referee change his mind,” said Therrien.
And Ottawa scored twice to open up the game. Daniel Alfredsson and Mika Zibanejad (his first) and shortly after Chris Phillips added another. After two it was 4-1 Ottawa.
“I was complaining,” said White. “I thought he was holding my stick along the boards, but I have to learn to shut up and just go to the box.”
Another Ottawa goal after the two huge Anderson saves clinched the game for the Sens and ended Montreal’s win streak. They will get a chance to avenge the loss when Ottawa comes to the Bell Centre on Feb. 3.
Quotes come from the Globe and Mail, NHL.com, the Canadian Press and Montreal Gazette.