Canadiens Snap Losing Streak in Ottawa
A short break over Christmas seems to be just what the Montreal Canadiens needed, as they bounced back in a big way with a 6-2 win over the eighth place Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. After a five game losing streak the Habs finally won a game, giving interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth his first victory as the man in charge behind the Canadiens bench.
The first period began with the Senators controlling the game for the most part. Just two minutes in they jumped out to an early lead with a goal from Zach Smith. The lead didn't last for long though, as Lars Eller sniped one past Craig Anderson on the penalty kill to even the score just five minutes in to the period. Then a rare thing happened when Brian Lee and Max Pacioretty dropped the gloves, and despite a poor performance, it was nice to see a Habs player try and provide some energy with a fight. After a good couple minutes of back-and-forth hockey, the Canadiens took their first lead of the season when Tomas Plekanec scored his 8th of the season. It didn't end there though, as Cammalleri – who has struggled to score this season - potted the Habs third goal on just four shots. The period ended with the Habs up 3-1, despite being out-shot 13-5.
The Canadiens started the second period right where they left off as 2009 first round pick Louis Leblanc scored the second goal of his NHL career to add to the Habs lead. With Anderson allowing four goals in just 22 minutes, head coach Paul MacLean decided to pull his starting netminder in favour of backup Alex Auld. It continued just minutes later as PK Subban scored to increase the lead to four. The Senators did show some life when Jason Spezza tapped the puck past Carey Price to cut the lead to three. The second period ended with the Canadiens leading 5-2. Shots in the second were even at fifteen.
The third period was mostly a quiet one, at least until the fifteen minute mark. Despite some good chances there were no goals until Tomas Plekanec slid a pass right to Erik Cole in front of the net for the Habs' sixth goal on the evening, this time coming on a 5 on 3 power play.
This was exactly the turn-around the Canadiens needed with such veterans as Michael Cammalleri breaking out of his slump, and youngster Rafael Diaz recording three assists in the first period alone. PK Subban seems to have gotten the wake-up call after being made a healthy scratch early in the month as he scored and was a +2. As always, the man between the pipes for the Habs was stellar as Carey Price made 33 saves to help the Canadiens to a commanding win. It was a great all-around game for the Habs, with perhaps the most telling statistic being that seven Montreal players had at least two points.
The Habs will hope that this great play continues as they wrap up the year 2011 with two games in Florida as they fight to get back in a playoff position.