Ottawa - December 28, 2011 - Goaltending was the difference tonight as the Montreal Canadiens ended their five game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Senators here in Ottawa. The win was coach Randy Cunneyworth’s first win in five games as coach of the Canadiens and for now will ease a little bit of the pressure on the coach.
Goaltending was the difference in tonight’s game. In one end, the Senators got terrible goaltending, while in the other end Carey Price was solid for the Montreal Canadiens and made the key saves when it was needed. Ottawa got off to a fast start, scoring just 1:42 into the game on a wrist shot from Zack Smith.
The Senators outplayed the Canadiens in the first period, outshoting them 13-5 and outchancing them 11-3 by my count. Yet the Senators finished the period down 3-1. The first half of the second period was much the same as the Senators out shot the Canadiens 10-4 and outchanced them 8-2. However, the Canadiens found themselves ahead 5-2. Give the Canadiens credit for burrying their chances though.
To say that the Senators goaltending was poor is an understatement. It’s not too often in a 6-2 loss that a team can say that it could’ve won a game, but in fact the Senators could’ve won this game. Goaltender Craig Anderson stopped just three of the first seven shots he faced putting the Senators behind 4-1. At that point in the game the Senators had outshot the Canadiens 19-7. Back-up Alex Auld didn’t help when he gave up a goal on the Canadiens second shot on him.
In the other end, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was excellent, stopping 33 of 35 shots. Many of the saves made by Price were of the difficult variety and his rebound control was excellent. Carey Price is a top notch goaltender and he gives Montreal a chance to win on any given night, even when his team plays poorly.
As a Senators fan this has always been the achilles heal of the organization. The Ottawa Senators have never had a top notch goaltender. Even when Dominik Hasek was here, he quit on the team and wasn’t there to carry the load when the team needed him the most. Craig Anderson has a sub-par 3.42 goals against average and an .891 save percentage. Alex Auld’s numbers are even worse. Compare this to Carey Price who has a 2.44 goals against average and .914 save percentage and you can the difference between the two teams and the main reason why the Montreal Canadiens were able to beat the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators goaltending needs to improve if they hope to qualify for a playoff position. Anderson who was brought in the solidify the Senators goaltending has done anything but. The Senators have not won a single game this season because of their goaltending. Contrast this with a team like Montreal who’s goaltender Carey Price has stolen them 3-4 games this season.
- Erik Karlsson was responsible for the short handed goal in the first period. Not only did he lose the puck at the opposing teams blue line causing the two on one, but he compounded the problem by not taking the man closest to him and then made the errors worse by not preventing Lars Eller from shooting the puck.
- The Senators looked like they really missed Chris Phillips on the blueline. His veteran prescence may have settled this team down.
- Brian Lee is imporving everytime I see him. His ability to carry the puck is excellent when he picks his spot.
- Up next on Thursday, the Calgary Flames who beat the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight 2-1. The Flames are 10-3-3 in their last 16 games and will be a tough opponent for the Senators.