The Jekyll/Hyde team of the NHL were in town to face the Montreal Canadiens last night, and they had their game faces on.
The Senators notched their 40th win by defeating Montreal 3-0, playing a positionally sound game and capitalizing on nearly all of their chances, all the while surpassing Montreal in the standings thanks to their regulation win.
The ruckus crowd at the Bell Centre was emotionally involved at the get go, but the emotions slowly (and eventually completely) dissipated as the Canadiens forgot to bring ENERGY to the contest, both in the early going and throughout the game.
The crowd was completely out of it by the time Spezza scored the Sens (and his own) 2nd powerplay goal of the game, by batting a rebound in off the back of Carey Price's leg from an Andrej Meszaros shot that hit the end boards. That offensively savvy play really put a stranglehold on the fans, as it became crystal clear shortly after that the Senators were switching into defensive mode, proceding to dump and chase the puck into Montreal's zone, all the while providing a very effective forecheck and eating as much clock as humanly possible.
Spezza scored his first powerplay goal and first goal of the game in the 1st period by deflecting a Cory Stillman point shot perfectly passed the beaten Carey Price, who to his credit did everything he could of, both on the play and in the entire game.
Antoine Vermette made it 3-0 with 1:59 remaining in the second, slamming home a rebound off of a Chris Kelly slapshot past a recovering Carey Price. Vermette quietly porduces when the Senators face Montreal, with the focus constantly on the "Pizza Line" of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.
Alfredsson was a surprising dress for the game, as many believed he would be a healthy scratch come game time. Carbonneau stated that he was certain Alfredsson would play however, after seeing him take a 45 minute morning skate earlier in the day.
The Habs have 2 games remaining with Ottawa, and are going to need huge efforts if they intend to steal away the Northeast crown from the defending Northeast champs. The Sens currently lead the season series 5-1.
Martin Gerber shutout the Habs for his 2nd shuout of the season and ninth of his career, despite an early heckling from the energetic crowd. Carey Price had 21 saves in the loss.
The best Habs player on the ice last night was - get ready for it - Guillaume Latendresse.
Lats effectively used his body on the majority of his shifts, and layed some punishing checks with his monstrous frame on the Sens defensive corps. His energy was about the only plus in a Habs effort that featured lazy forechecking, absymal passing and an overall flat energy level.
Montreal next faces the NY Islanders Saturday night at 7 p.m. If you are attending the game, go early, as they are going to be giving away free car flags to the first 10,000 fans arriving at the Bell Centre.