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Canadiens rout Sens 6-2 for Cunneyworth's first win

by Erin Nicks
KANATA, Ont. -- It took five tries, but Randy Cunneyworth has his first victory as Montreal's coach.

The Canadiens made Cunneyworth a winner for the first time since taking over as coach 10 days ago by manhandling the Ottawa Senators 6-2 on Tuesday night in front of a full house of 20,500 at Scotiabank Place.

"I think relief is one word, but obviously we're pleased," Cunneyworth said. "We expected it sooner, but going forward we want it to happen more often. It's no secret: We had it in our minds that we were going to get the puck to the net."

Cunneyworth took over on the morning of Dec. 17 after the Canadiens fired Jacques Martin. They had been outscored 17-6 in losing their first four games after the coaching change.

Seven Canadiens had multipoint games, led by rookie defenseman Raphael Diaz, who had three assists, and rookie forward Louie Leblanc, with a goal and an assist. Carey Price made 33 saves as Montreal beat Ottawa for the second time in as many meetings this season and ended an overall five-game losing streak.

Ottawa got goals from Zack Smith and Jason Spezza, but starting goaltender Craig Anderson was lifted after allowing four goals on just seven shots.

"They did a better job in the second period," Spezza said. "You have to give them credit -- they clogged things up a little more, and when you get behind with a good team that plays well defensively and with a great goaltender, it's tough to come back. We found ourselves too far behind to mount much of a comeback."

The Senators, who had won their last three home games before the Christmas break, got off to a fast start when Smith scooped up the rebound of Sergei Gonchar's shot and beat Price for his 10th of the season just 1:42 after the opening faceoff.

But little went right for Ottawa the rest of the way, as the Canadiens ran off five unanswered goals.

Lars Eller, benched in Montreal's last pre-Christmas game on Dec. 22, tied it at 5:08 by beating Anderson from the top of the circle for a shorthanded goal. Tomas Plekanec, who was in the box for Eller's goal, put Montreal ahead to stay when he beat Anderson at 12:39.

Coming back into the lineup, Eller was grateful for not only the win, but the ability to contribute to an offense that looked sharper than it had in weeks.

"The floodgates opened for us," he said. "We got one, then two and we just kept going. It's been a while since we've had that feeling. It doesn't necessarily carry over automatically (to the next game), but it was big for us."

Eller also acknowledged the role his goal played in turning things around in the first period.

"I think it was really good for us to answer back quick," he said. "After that, we were just rolling."

Mike Cammalleri banged home Leblanc's rebound at 15:35 for his first goal since Dec. 1 to make it 3-1. Diaz assisted on all three first-period goals.

Leblanc ended Anderson's night 2:03 into the second period by wristing home a feed from Cammalleri on a 2-on-1. But P.K. Subban, also a scratch in Montreal's last game, beat replacement Alex Auld from the slot at 5:53 to make it a four-goal game.

After the game, Subban made light all the media attention after he was benched against Winnipeg.

"Just us winning [is relief enough]," he said. "To be honest, no offense, but I never really listen [to the media]. I just go out there and do what I can. Nobody likes to be a healthy scratch, now I'm just looking forward and I was happy I could contribute."

Spezza controlled the rebound of Milan Michalek's shot and slammed the puck past Price at 6:49 to cut the deficit to 5-2. The assist came in Michalek's first game back after missing five with a concussion.

But Montreal, which improved to 11-0-3 when leading after two periods, added some insurance when Eric Cole, who set up Subban's goal, redirected a feed from Plekanec past Auld with 5:02 remaining and the Canadiens on a 5-on-3 power play.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who is still one shy of his 400th career goal, knew that the team was too far gone by the halfway point on Tuesday night.

"I didn't think we had the legs today to really give the push we can and had in previous games," Alfredsson said.  "We found ourselves chasing, and our second period wasn't good enough to give us a chance."
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