About last night …

No cause for concern … yet.

Certainly no reason to panic … now.

The Canadiens are still four points up on ninth-place Atlanta. But the Thrashers are hot, and they have a game in hand.

So just when we thought the playoffs were a cinch …

Well, they probably still are.

But your Montreal Canadiens were not good in salvaging a point at the ACC on Saturday night.

And they were even worse back home against the Ottawa “Who’s your daddy, habbies?” Senators.

The Canadiens took three of a possible 12 points from Otawa this season, and the last loss might have been the most dispiriting.

Extremely boring game, and an easy shutout for Brian Elliott.

Oh well, at least Kovy didn’t get a hat trick.

The game can be summarized by some goose eggs:

• The Canadiens were shut out on home ice for the fifth time. I can’t remember any of the preceding goaltenders having an easier time than Brian Elliott. He made 29 stops, maybe four of which were slightly difficult. 

• Jaroslav Spacek, Roman Hamrlik, Ryan O’Byrne and Hal Gill copmbined for ZERO hits. Yes, you read that right: four defencemen had no hits. Ottawa’s Andy Sutton had four, including good neutral-zone licks on Benoit Pouliot and Andrei Kostitsyn. 

• Pouliot didn’t have a shot on goal. Neither did Glen Metropolit or Maxim Lapierre.

Ottawa wanted the game more and had a sounder plan for winning it.

The Senators played a tight, disciplined style. They forechecked effectively and clogged the neutral zone, denying the Canadiens any chance to move up ice at speed.

During Jacques Martin’s press conference, Eric Engels suggested the Canadiens had stretched the ice too much and played with poor puck support. The coach jumped on this analysis, labeling it “bang on” and lamenting his teams’s lack of crisp, 10- to 15-foot passes that would let five skaters advance the puck.

Prompted by Pat Hickey, Martin also critiqued some unfortunate pinches by his Dmen that resulted in several odd-man rushes, particularly in the first period, by the Senators.

The loss, Martin said, was attributable to special teams.

The Canadiens’ power play went 0-for-5 and looked gosh-awful.

Ottawa had a 20-second power play when Andrei Kostitsyn took a brain-dead penalty to nullify a Canadiens’ advantage. But with Dominic Moore off in the third period, the Senators needed a little over a minute to make it 2-0, a PP score that effectively put the game out of reach.

Moore lost one of his wingers when Travis Moen suffered a horrific skate cut in the second period. But he and Sergei Kostitsyn had a tough time against an Ottawa system that afforded them little time or space to make effective plays.

Brian Gionta, who hasn’t played a bad game this season, had five shots on goal , as did Scott Gomez. But their linemate, Pouliot, seems to have fallen into a bit of a regression. Maybe he’s reading the summaries and noticing how many goals Guillaume Latendresse is scoring in Minnesota.

(Cheap shot. I’m still happy with the trade.)

There had been speculation that Mike Cammalleri and Marc-André Bergeron would return to the lineup against Ottawa. The PP certainly could have used a couple of trigger-men. 

And Tomas Plekanec desperately needs Cammalleri as a finisher. We love Tom Pyatt, but not on that line.

As it is however, Cammalleri – who has scored 18 of his 26 goals at home – will return to the lineup in Buffalo on Wednesday.

Martin McGuire, on CKAC, said we’d see Carey Price against the Sabres. 

Jaro Halak couldn’t be faulted for either of the Ottawa goals. But Price hasn’t played since getting the hook in Anaheim.

It’s time.

And it’s time for the Canadiens to pull up their tri-coloured socks. The team skating in quicksand for most of the night against Ottawa wasd not the playoff-bound juggernaut that reeled off six straight Ws.

Will the real Montreal Canadiens show up in Buffalo, or back home against Florida and – gulp! – New Jersey?

They’ll have to, before this thing gets out of hand.

 

•  •  •

Moen, who does not wear a visor, took 25 stitches on that scary play.

If Matt Cullen’s skate hits his eye … well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

 

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