The injury depleted Ottawa Senators took their show into Montreal for Hockey Day in Canada, only to find that Montreal was not going to be gracious hosts. With goals from Saku Koivu, Francis Bouillon, Mathieu Dandenault and Radek Bonk, (scoring his first goal in 43 games) the Habs had their fans dancing in the aisles early in the game.
The Canadiens out played and out hit the Senators, storming to a 4-0 lead in the first period, chasing Ray Emery from the game and giving the pride of St. Martin D'Heres, France, Cristobel Huet a taste of life on the winning side of the NHL, his second straight win over Ottawa. A feat that had the Hab faithful chanting his name thoughout the game.
Huet put forward some solid play on behalf of his Canadien team mates, turning aside 40 shots from a frustrated Ottawa squad. The lone Ottawa goal a sneak in on the right wing from behind the net, more a case of a check not being picked up than anything else. Huet’s appearance in the net has begun to feed that favourite game in Montreal of who’s leaving town, the name apparently at the top of the conspiracy list, none other than Jose Theodore.
From the opening whistle the Habs took control of the play, the normally solid studs of defence in Ottawa of Chara, Redden and Phillips could not control the Canadiens who for the first period resembled those fast skating teams of the Beliveau era.
The play slowed down in the second and third periods, but the damage had already been done to Ottawa, a team which has shown some serious inconsistent play since the injury parade began to build up over the last month or so.
Ottawa’s Emery was left on his own once again, a similar scenario that played out less than a week ago, when the Thrashers took the game to the Sens and made Emery play through a stretch of terribly defense and anemic offense. In that game, Emery was a last second replacement for an injured Domenic Hasek. This time Bryan Murray had the option of rescuing Emery from the onslaught and put Domenic Hasek into the nets for the remainder of the game.
With Alfredsson, Havlat and Spezza missing from the offensive arsenal, the Sens are having much trouble in generating a steady flow of offense. Bryan Murray will have to retool his approach for the short term while the bruises, tears and sprains all begin to heal.
While it’s nowhere near the time for panic in Ottawa, the short term pain is probably still ahead for a bit yet. For Montreal, there are signs of coming out of the darker moments of a frustrating season.