Skip to main content

Condon, Plekanec lead Canadiens past Senators

by Chris Stevenson / NHL.com

OTTAWA -- Montreal Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon made 20 saves to win a battle of rookie goaltenders in a 3-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday.

Condon and Senators goaltender Matthew O'Connor became the first starting goaltenders to make their NHL debuts in the same game since Oct. 14, 1967 when Wayne Rutledge of the Los Angeles Kings faced Doug Favell of the Philadelphia Flyers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Tomas Plekanec had two goals and Torrey Mitchell scored for the Canadiens, who remain undefeated (3-0-0).

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a shorthanded goal for the Senators, who lost for the first time in three games (2-1-0).

"It was exciting. I thought the guys played an awesome game," Condon said. "I think we only had 15 shots against going into the third period, only maybe five or six scoring chances. They made my workload very light.

"A lot of energy going into the game, but after that first shot comes all the interior monologue just quiets down and all your training takes over. After the first shot, I was just having some fun."

O'Connor, backing up Senators veteran goaltender Craig Anderson while Andrew Hammond is out with a groin injury, made 31 saves.

Each team was playing the second of back-to-back games and the coaches opted to rest their No. 1 goaltenders.

Condon won the backup job behind Carey Price with a strong training camp, beating out Dustin Tokarski.

With a minute to go in the third period and the Canadiens up 3-1, Condon made two big saves on Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson with the Senators on a power play.

"He made some key saves at the right time," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said of Condon. "This is just something he did through the course of the training camp. He played really well for us. He played well for us in the minors last year. He got the first win and that's always something special for any player.

"He's calm, but you know what? He's a battler. You could see at the end the save that he made, he battled really hard on that one."

Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was asked about teams playing differently with the backup in goal, especially when the backup is replacing the Vezina and Hart Trophy winner, but he thought the Canadiens fed off Condon's strong start.

"You know what? It's so funny you say that because a lot of times when the backup goes in there, you see a sense in changing and we didn't change anything today," Subban said. "Guys felt confident with him in there. He established early that he was ready and he was sharp.

"Listen, I've got to give him credit. He went in there and did exactly what he had to do. We get that from Carey every night. What Carey brings, we got that from him tonight."

After Plekanec had given the Canadiens a 2-0 lead, Pageau cut it in half when he scored a shorthanded goal at 9:09 of the second period. O'Connor made three or four sharp saves to start his NHL career, but he was beaten by a shot along the goal line by Plekanec at 9:41 of the first period.

"I was a little lucky on the first goal," Plekanec said. "I tried to surprise him a little bit and it worked the way I wanted to."

Plekanec made it 2-0 at 18:34 of the first period when he blocked a shot by Karlsson inside the Montreal blue line and broke away. With Karlsson in pursuit, Plekanec held off the Senators captain and shot the puck between O'Connor's pads.

Mitchell deflected a shot by Subban at 5:41 of the third period to increase the Canadiens' lead to 3-1. Mitchell got his stick on the shot at the top of the left circle and the puck fluttered by a screened O'Connor on the stick side.

"I felt better as the game went on," O'Connor said. "Obviously I wanted a win. It was a bit of a goalie duel, I guess, with Condon getting his first NHL game as well. I guess we couldn't really climb back from that first period. I felt comfortable by the end.

"I guess there's some stuff to work on, but overall I felt pretty comfortable, and I felt like I made a good effort."

Senators coach Dave Cameron wasn't happy with his team's effort in its home opener.

"We weren't hard enough on pucks, right through the 12 forwards that were dressed," he said. "We talk all the time about if we're going to establish ourselves as any kind of team that's tough to play against, you have to go through pucks, not around them. Montreal did a good job of choking us off. If you don't respond by going through pucks and getting pucks to the net, it's going to be a long night.

"It was a long night tonight."

View More