Very quick hits, because there’s nothing much to be said about a game in which the Canadiens were decisively outworked.
Besides, I want to get up to Hurley’s to hang with the Summiteers.
“You have to credit the other team,” Jacques Martin said. “They worked harder, they were fresher and won more battles.”
As he almost always does, the coach talked about special teams, pointing to a disparity in penalties: six to the Canadiens, two to Ottawa … with the winning goal coming on a PP.
Martin didn’t say so, but some of the penalties were not smart.
A frustrated Mike Cammalleri took a slashing call when the Canadiens were on a 5-on-3. Jaro Spacek was off when Alex Kovalev made it 3-1, and Benoit Pouliot’s hook robbed the Canadiens of two minutes in which they might have closed the gap.
It just wasn’t their night.
Ottawa was well-rested and played like it.
While out-hit 32-20 – Andrei Kostitsyn led both teams with six checks – the Senators won most of the decisive puck battles.
With Lars Eller a healthy scratch for the first time this season, Martin continued to juggle his lines. And while there was an occasional flurry of pressure, Brian Elliott had a good view of most of the Canadiens’ season-low 23 shots and his Dmen and backchecking forwards limited second chances.
Carey Price could not be faulted for the three goals that beat him. Ottawa buzzed the crease all night, slapped Price around and generally ran a clinic on the virtue of going to the net and looking for loose pucks.
A bright spot?
Scott Gomez, who became the whipping boy of fans even while the team was winning, skated hard, had three shots on goal and won 9 of 14 faceoffs.
Tomas Plekanec struggled on draws, losing nine of 13, and enjoyed his best moments on the PK. Pleks did set up new linemate Brian Gionta for some good chances but was not on the ice when the Captain finally buried one on his team-high 54th shot of the season.
Some members of the Commentariat don’t like the new defence pairings, and I’m inclined to agree.
P.K. Subban seems to have lost his mojo while playing with Hal Gill. And Josh Gorges’s low-key skills are not a great complement to Andrei Markov’s creativity. Maybe it’s time for a switch-up.
Grizzled vet Sergei Gonchar and young Erik Karlsson demonstrated the value of point shooters who can get the puck on net. With Senators jamming Price, the Canadiens’ goaltender had to pick up those lasers through a forest of white jerseys, and good Senators chances ensued.
I won’t join the Antichambre gang lobbying for MAB, but the Canadiens could use someone who can fire accurate lasers from the point.
The Canadiens will hold their Festi-fan promotion tomorrow.
The players, who usually get Sundays off, will have to smile and kiss babies while not feeling particularly festive.
Division losses hurt, as do 5-on-3 futility and First-Star performances by Alex Kovalev.
Credit the old dog. He was on his game tonight – especially on Ottawa’s numerous PPs when, Mathieu Darche pointed out, Kovy is most dangerous.
• • •
The Canadiens PP is 1-for-26 at home and is dead last in the league overall.
As Chris Stevenson of the Sun newspapers asks: “Were Glen Metropolit and Marc-Andree Bergeron THAT important?”