The Montreal Canadiens met a hot goalie Thursday night and lost to the Ottawa Senators 4-2. The Sens now lead the best of seven series one game to none. Craig Anderson stole the show, making 48 saves in the Ottawa net to set a new team playoff record. The Habs dominated for most of the game, including firing 27 shots on goal in the second period, but they let their foot off the gas in the third and gave up three goals to take the loss.
Losing the game was big for Montreal, but they also lost their top center for potentially a long time. Lars Eller left the game after he was hit open ice by Eric Gryba. The ice was covered in blood, but most of the broken nose and concussion Eller suffered came from the impact with the ice and not the hit itself. Gryba was still ejected and will very likely face a hearing for the play, but he will be back before Eller is.
“I can’t comment on it,” Head Coach Michel Therrien said. “We all saw the hit. I’m not allowed to make any comment.”
Montreal opened the game with dominance, out skating and passing the Sens for most of the first period. They were led by PK Subban who seemed to be everywhere on the ice. Subban set the tone of the game early with a huge, clean hit on Chris Neil and almost another on Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
But it was Ottawa who would open the scoring. Erik Karlesson led a rush and tipped a pass from Kyle Turris through Carey Price’s legs. It was a perfect tip that would be hard to stop, but still took a lot of energy from the Habs who barely escaped the first only trailing by one.
Montreal picked up their play again in the second and by the halfway point of the game, had 30 shots on goal. But Anderson stood tall and it looked like he might never be beat. But Rene Bourque eventually did, coming out fast from behind the net and roofing a backhand over Anderson’s shoulder to tie the game.
Less than a minute after the Bourque goal, Gryba hit Eller. This gave the Habs a five minute powerplay and they took advantage to grab the lead. Brendan Gallagher continued his hot play from the season by tipping a cross-crease pass from Tomas Plekanec. It was Gallagher’s first playoff goal in his first playoff game.
Gallagher was critical of the team after the game.
“It’s not an acceptable excuse to say their goalie stole the game,” he said. “We made some mistakes.”
Montreal continued to pressure Ottawa for the rest of the period, mostly on the powerplay, but Anderson stood tall. Price wasn’t very busy in this period, only facing seven shots. But Montreal missed a big opportunity to widen their lead, only getting one powerplay goal, and it would cost them in the third.
The third period was almost the complete opposite of the second, with the tables turning. But the goalies stayed the same. Anderson continued to dominate and Price’s struggles from the end of the season continued.
Just over three minutes into the period, Jakob Silfverberg fired a pretty standard shot on goal that somehow went in and tied the game. This really shook the Habs up. But it wasn’t until Marc Methot gave Ottawa the lead two minutes later did Montreal really lose their game.
“The only thing we can control is our effort,” Therrien said. “I thought our effort was good. We have to keep playing the same way.”
By the time Guillaume Latendresse scored his goal in the third, Montreal was done. Their chances late in the game were weak and at that point, Anderson wasn’t getting beat. After an exciting start, the Habs left the rink in silence and the Senators were celebrating their new series lead.
Game two of this series is Friday in Montreal at 7 p.m.