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Ottawa
Senators
Montréal
Canadiens

21 SOG
28 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
OTT
MTL
game recap

Senators top Canadiens 3-1 in Kovalev's return to Montreal

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:16 AM

NHL.com

Alex Kovalev got a standing ovation from many in the sellout crowd at the Bell Centre when he scored a third-period goal that gave his team a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for the 21,273 fans on hand, he wasn't playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

Kovalev had an assist and a game-clinching goal in his return to Montreal as his new team, the Ottawa Senators, beat his old team 3-1 on Saturday night, handing the Canadiens their fifth consecutive loss.

Kovalev was greeted with a loud mix of cheers and boos, but when he scored at 11:28 of the third on a wrist shot from the slot, he received a standing O amid chants of "Kovy, Kovy."

"It means a lot," Kovalev said of the huge ovation. "It's appreciation for what I have done for the city. I really appreciate all the support the fans (in Montreal) have given me.

Kovalev got another loud ovation when he was named the game's third star and took an extra twirl around the ice to acknowledge the cheers.

"It's always a great feeling to score," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's against your former team or not. Who doesn't want to score? Everybody likes to score."

Kovalev, who has also played for the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh, had 103 goals and 161 assists for 264 points in 314 regular-season games with Montreal from 2004-09.

Coach Cory Clouston put Kovalev's line on the ice to start the game.

"He deserved that," Clouston said. "Whether we were here or not, he was probably going to start anyway but it's just nice for him to be able to get the anthem and the appreciation from the crowd."

His teammates knew this wasn't just another game for Kovalev.

"I think it's a special night," Alfredsson said. "He's playing in a city like Montreal, with all the history they have here. And to win over the fans like he did ... you saw he left his mark. It's probably nice for him to get recognized the way he did."

Kovalev admitted it's a game and a night he won't forget.

"It's something that you'll remember ... it's a special moment," he said." I'll enjoy tonight but then you have to move on because there's still a lot of games to get played. It's only the first time we've met them and there are a lot of games to be played between us."

In contrast to the cheers for Kovalev, there were boos for the home team, which won its first two games in OT but has lost its next five, including its first two home games of the new season. They were pinned in their own zone for much of the third period.

"Fans expect us to win games, so in that sense their reaction is not unexpected," Cammalleri said. "If I was a fan, I wouldn't be happy either."

Pascal Leclaire made 15 of his 27 saves in the first period, when Montreal managed only Mike Cammalleri's first goal as a Canadien. He allowed only one goal for the third time in six starts this season as the Senators improved to 5-2-0.

"Early in the game I might have made one or two nice saves, but the more the game went on we raised our game," Leclaire said. "I didn't have to do a whole lot in the second half of the game."

The Senators took the lead at 9:16 of the opening period on only their second shot of the game. Nick Foligno took the puck from Kyle Chipchura behind the net, and Mike Fisher found Chris Neil in the slot for a wrist shot beat Carey Price high to the glove side.

Ottawa killed off four consecutive power plays, but Montreal tied the game with 27 seconds left in the period when his shot from the right circle hit Leclaire in the shoulder and trickled into the net.

The Senators went ahead 4:44 into the second after penalties to Hal Gill and Josh Gorges left Montreal two men short. Kovalev controlled the puck at the right circle and sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Daniel Alfredsson, who one-timed it past Price.

Kovalev' put it away with his third of the season, converting a pass from Fisher after the Canadiens failed on several clearing attempts.

--John Kreiser, NHL.com

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

scoring summary
1st Period
09:16
OTT
Chris Neil (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Mike Fisher (3), Nick Foligno (2)
1 - 0 OTT
19:33
MTL
Mike Cammalleri (1) Snap shot - ASST: Scott Gomez (3), Jaroslav Spacek (2)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
04:44
OTT
PPG - Daniel Alfredsson (3) Snap shot - ASST: Alex Kovalev (1), Jason Spezza (4)
2 - 1 OTT
3rd Period
11:28
OTT
Alex Kovalev (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Mike Fisher (4), Daniel Alfredsson (6)
3 - 1 OTT
penalty summary
1st Period
05:22
OTT
Jonathan Cheechoo  Hooking against  Georges Laraque
12:21
OTT
Chris Neil  Too many men/ice - bench
12:26
OTT
Chris Phillips  Hooking against  Mike Cammalleri
19:55
OTT
Nick Foligno  Hooking against  Jaroslav Spacek
2nd Period
03:10
MTL
Jaroslav Spacek  Hooking against  Jason Spezza
03:31
MTL
Josh Gorges  Tripping against  Daniel Alfredsson
05:32
MTL
Hal Gill  Tripping against  Erik Karlsson
06:59
MTL
Brian Gionta  Hooking against  Milan Michalek
16:05
OTT
Jarkko Ruutu  Misconduct (10 min)
3rd Period
04:25
MTL
Paul Mara  Holding against  Alex Kovalev
goalie stats
Pascal Leclaire
SA: 28TOI: 59:56
Saves: 27EV: 20 - 21
PIM: 0PP: 6 - 6
SV%: .964SH: 1 - 1
Carey Price
SA: 21TOI: 59:27
Saves: 18EV: 15 - 17
PIM: 0PP: 3 - 4
SV%: .857SH: 0 - 0