When you're struggling, holding on to a lead gets awfully tough. Just ask the Ottawa Senators
The Senators were less than five minutes away from ending a five-game losing streak when Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov
scored to tie Thursday night's game at 2-2. The game ultimately went to a shootout, and Jason Spezza
beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price
on the first attempt to put the Senators in front again.
That would normally result in an Ottawa win — teams scoring first came into the night having won 91 percent of shootouts. But not this time. Markov tied it in the third round with a brilliant backhander past Alex Auld
, and Alex Tanguay
's goal in the fourth round gave the Canadiens a 3-2 victory.
Tanguay turned to the right as he bore in on Auld and skated backward before scoring the winner.
"It's a move that either the goalie plays the shot there or he opens his legs to cover both posts," Tanguay said.
Auld said skaters are expanding the range of moves they're making on shootout attempts.
"Guys are trying anything, and that was a pretty good play," he said. "I didn't know whether he was going to pull it back to his forehand or not. I was kind of thinking that if he was going to shoot, he'd probably go high — on the backhand, usually guys try to get it up. It was a good, patient play on his part."
Despite never trailing until the final round of the shootout, the Senators fell to 0-4-2 in their last six games.
"We're not happy with it, but I think the way we played is encouraging," forward Jarkko Ruutu
said. "If we keep working like we did tonight, playing the way we did, we're going to get rewarded for it. You can't bury your head and feel sorry for yourself. It's actually the opposite; we should feel a lot better than we did a couple of games ago."
The win was a boost for the Canadiens, who've struggled after a fast start and came to Ottawa off a 2-1 loss at Carolina on Tuesday.
"It was a huge win for us, obviously," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau
said. "Both teams started the game knowing that it was going to be a tough game, that both teams were kind of struggling lately and that everything was going to be left on the ice. It was a really good game."
The Senators have struggled to score during their slump, leading coach Craig Hartsburg
to reunite the "Pizza Line" of Spezza between Dany Heatley
and Daniel Alfredsson
. The switch paid off quickly when Heatley scored at 4:21 of the opening period, chipping the puck over Price after Markov's block of Alexandre Picard's shot came to him in the slot.
Montreal tied it at 13:33 on a power-play wraparound by Saku Koivu
The Senators thought they had gone ahead late in the second period when defenseman Anton Volchenkov
ripped Shean Donovan
's pass behind Price during a delayed penalty. But the goal was disallowed when referee Don VanMassenhoven ruled that he had blown the whistle because defenseman Francois Bouillon had touched the puck.
There was no controversy about Nick Foligno
's go-ahead goal. The second-year winger put Ottawa in front again when he jammed a loose power-play rebound past Price at 4:58 of the third period. But just when it looked like the Senators might break their losing streak, Markov blew a slap shot from the right circle past Auld with 4:24 left in regulation.
The victory gave the Canadiens a 3-4-1 record after their 8-1-1 start.
"I thought this was a step in the right direction for our team," Price said. "I thought the last three games we started to turn it around and start to play well, even though we lost the last game. We're starting to bond more as a group, I think."
Material from wire services and team broadcast and online media was used in this report.
Contact John Kreiser at firstname.lastname@example.org