The game played Saturday night (Jan, 19, 2009) was a possible wake-up call for the Montreal Canadiens.
Across Canada, the viewers who started watching Montreal visiting the Ottawa Senators early in the game were already likely assuming an easy win. When you have the fourth-best team in the East versus the second-worst team in the East, it is not a unusual expectation.
Maybe the Habs got too confident too early into the game. They started off by looking like a strong team who were going to overpower the Sens without much effort.
However, penalties were once again an issue, for both the power-play (PP) and penalty-kill (PK).
There were a few occasions where Montreal gave the Sens a PP they didn't deserve to get. These were the penalties which had no need to be taken. The PK unit made an attempt at the offense, but the Habs were still unable to keep Ottawa from scoring.
On the PP, the Habs just could not get organized. They started off on a good note with a goal, but blew key opportunities like a nearly two-minute two-man advantage, or the PP in overtime where they just didn't seem to know what to do. They passed the puck instead of shooting. Always the biggest problem!
The Habs really let things get out of control going into the third period. They went in with a 3-2 lead, but with some simple mistakes the contest ended in a 4-4 tie.
The last few moments of the game were the most intense. Less than a minute after Montreal made it 4-2 the Sens scored as well, followed by a Heatley tally in the dying moments. The iron was lucky for the home team. Alex Kovalev rang a shot off the crossbar from a bad angle in the last two minutes of the third.
If Kovalev had scored that goal, this game would not have been eventually forced to a shootout. The Montreal shooters went two-for-two (Kovalev, Lapierre) while the Ottawa shooters went zero-for-two (Heatley, Alfredsson). This meant the Habs got the "W" they were after.
We could say it as a successful game because the Habs crucially gained two points on the Boston Bruins, who are leading the East, just ten points ahead of Montreal. It was also nice to see the shootout a success, especially Lapierre's deke.
However, I think it was a subpar game overall. Ottawa did not show any spectacular signs of recovering their team, and the Habs looked disorganized. Now we all know the role the Senators will have: spoiler.