MONTREAL – Outhit and outworked at every turn, the Sens had no answer for the Habs’ Friday night will to win.
There was little doubt that Game 2 between the Canadiens and the Senators at the Bell Centre was going to be an emotional tilt. The only question was; which team would be able to manage those emotions best and transform them into results. Despite losing three key forwards from their lineup in Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta – all within the span of 24 hours – it was a relentless Montreal squad that hit the ice in front of a fired up Bell Centre crowd, pressed the pedal to the floor from the opening puck drop and didn’t take it off again until the final siren sounded 60 minutes later.
After peppering Craig Anderson with 50 shots the night before, the Habs showed no signed of slowing down on Friday, notching another 34, but this time adding 37 hits and 34 blocked shots to their resume, giving Ottawa little room to breathe.
“This is playoff hockey. The guys know they have to sacrifice their bodies and put themselves in the line of fire. That’s what our team did tonight and it’s what they did last night too,” shared Michel Therrien, following his team’s 3-1 win that saw them turn in another hard-nosed performance, but this time get the results to go along with it. “I didn’t talk to my players today and tell them that they needed to bounce back from last night’s game, because they didn’t need to bounce back – they played a great game. All I told them was that if they went out there and kept playing that same game, that’s how we’d win.”
One of the evening’s standout performances came courtesy of Carey Price who battled for each of his 29 saves, and like Craig Anderson the night before, shutdown the opposition while getting a tooth or two knocked out in the process.
“I’d lose them all if it meant we’d win,” promised Price, who made a quick trip over to the bench after getting hit by Jarred Tinordi’s skate to casually hand a few pearly whites over to the team’s head athletic therapist, Graham Rynbend, for safe keeping.
“He’s a good goaltender,” continued the 25-year-old netminder, switching the subject to his competition at the other end of the rink. “He usually makes the first save and a lot of the time he makes the second one too. We have to keep going to the net like we’ve been doing and scoring those playoff goals. This is playoff hockey and we’ll be going up against them again in a couple of days. You know you’re going to take a few shots, you just need to make sure you get yours in too.”
In addition to a willingness to throw themselves in front of a lot of high-velocity rubber for the sake of their goaltender, cranking up their game a notch or three in the physicality department was also a big part of the Canadiens’ recipe for success on Friday night.
Turning in one of his best performances of the season, forward Ryan White not only opened up the scoring for the Habs with an unassisted, hard-fought goal on Anderson, but also logged three bone-crunching hits, most notably on Matt Kassian and Marc Methot.
“I was doing my best to take advantage of the opportunity and step up and help the team and that’s what I wanted to do tonight. I got a good bounce on that goal and I was just trying to play physical out there the whole time, as always, and tonight it was going well,” said White, who was helped by Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong who chipped in six hits apiece. After losing Eller indefinitely after a hit from Eric Gryba on Thursday, Therrien clearly pushed the right buttons with his players to get them to turn up the heat on the Senators even further – a trend that they’ll try to continue despite this weekend’s change in venues.
“He said to us in the locker room before that he wasn’t too happy with some of the things that were said on the other side,” added White. “We’re following this guy; he’s taking us into war and we’re behind him 100%”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
SEE ALSO:Playoff Central Game Highlights: Canadiens-SenatorsBoxscore: Canadiens-Senators
The Numbers Game – May 3, 2013