OTTAWA – Jean-Gabriel Pageau is hoping the tooth fairy can bring the Ottawa Senators closer to the second round.
The rookie center continued his ascension towards playoff-hero status, scoring a hat trick and losing a tooth in the process to lead his team to a decisive 6-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Sunday night.
Ottawa will host Game 4 on Tuesday.
"I might put it under my pillow to see what's going to happen," said Pageau, who grew up across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, and played his first playoff game in his hometown. "I'll lose another one if it means we can win the next game."
In 78 regular-season games as a professional (all played this season), Pageau has nine goals. He scored seven in 69 games with Binghamton of the American Hockey League and two in nine games with the Senators.
His hat trick Sunday gave Pageau three goals in three Stanley Cup Playoff games, tying him for the League-lead in that department.
"He's going to have a hard time getting across the bridge tonight," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "It was a great night for the kid. He's played very well for us, and tonight for him to be here in his first playoff game at home, to get a hat trick and play the way he did, that's a big night for him. We're going to have to really calm him down and talk to him for a long time tomorrow to get him back and ready to go on Tuesday night. But I hope he really enjoys it tonight because that's a heck of a night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I never had one of those."
A wild finish to the game that saw the two teams combine for 210 penalty minutes in the third period alone – including 14 fighting majors and eight game misconducts – took a bit of the attention away from Pageau's magical night.
Pageau's first goal turned out to be the winner when he was sprung in on goal by a Sergei Gonchar pass that split Montreal's top defense pair of Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban. After beating goaltender Carey Price with a great shot high too the stick side, Pageau took a Subban high-stick in the mouth.
Instead of celebrating, Pageau and his Senators teammates were looking for his tooth on the ice.
He scored again 1:18 into the third, beating Price with another wrist shot on the glove side. The Senators crowd took to chanting his name to the tune of the Canadiens' rally song, replacing "Ole" with "Pageau."
"It's good motivation," Pageau said of the crowd support. "It forces me to push myself to keep going. That's probably because they like my game, so I don't want to disappoint them after that. I just want to give it everything I've got."
Pageau and his teammates certainly did that Sunday.
Ottawa not only won on the scoreboard, it exacted a physical toll on the Canadiens that could carry over to Game 4, playing a physically assertive game right from the start that ultimately resulted in one third period shift where there were five fights going on simultaneously.
When it was over, Matt Kassian stood at the center ice faceoff dot and incited the sellout Scotiabank Place crowd of 20,249 to get louder than they already were.
And they did.
It felt like a turning point in the series. Only the Canadiens will determine whether it actually was.
"The building was phenomenal all night," said Chris Neil, who joined Kassian in riling up the crowd while the officials worked out all the penalties. "It was definitely home-ice advantage, that's for sure."
But at the end of a wild evening, what mattered most in the Senators dressing room that they got to within two victories of the second round.
"Obviously we're pleased with getting the W, that's the most important thing," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, who scored his first of the playoffs. "We did a lot of good things today and found a way to get the lead in this series."
The Senators also got goals from Kyle Turris and Jakob Silfverberg and Craig Anderson turned aside 33 of 34 shots, including a breakaway save on Brian Gionta in the third period of a 3-1 game just before Turris scored to make it 4-1.
"He kept us in the game when we needed him," Neil said of Anderson. "We were only up by one and he made a couple of big saves. He's been solid for us in all three games so far."
The Canadiens got their lone goal from Rene Bourque. Price went the distance and made 24 saves.
The Senators had perhaps their best period of the series in the first, flying all over the ice and hitting anything in a red, white and blue sweater, being credited with 19 hits in the opening 20 minutes.
MacLean said Sunday morning he wanted his team to be more physical against the Canadiens, and the Senators quickly delivered.
"We played a physical game," Neil said. "It wasn't just three or four guys. It was everyone."
The Senators also clearly decided to target Subban, and it began on his very first shift of the game. Subban was lining up Erik Condra as he entered the Canadiens zone, but instead of taking the hit, Condra got his hands up and appeared to hit Subban in the head with his stick.
It didn't end there, as Subban had a long first period and a long night overall, taking three penalties and ending his evening by taking his frustrations out on Turris, drawing an instigator, an instigator with a shield, a fighting major and game misconduct at 8:31 of the third.
"He's a skilled player for them. He's a unique player, he skates well, he's a big body out there," Neil said. "He's one of their key players, so if he's playing 25 minutes a night we want to make it a hard 25 minutes. It's not a big thundering hit on him, it's the little hits that will wear him out. We did a good job of that tonight."
The Senators opened the scoring with their first power play goal of the series, and their fifth in their past 63 chances over the past 17 games.
Playing with a two-man advantage after Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges took penalties 1:22 apart, giving Gonchar all the space he need to find Alfredsson with a perfect slap pass at the side of the net. Price made the initial save on the deflection, but the Senators captain slid the rebound in at 5:58 for his first of these playoffs and the 48th of his career.
The Canadiens tied it up with a power play goal of their own after Neil went off for roughing when Bourque's fought through a stick check by Zack Smith to get a weak shot off from the slot. The change-up fooled Anderson and just crossed the goal line at 14:34 of the second.
Pageau gave Ottawa a 2-1 lead at 4:40 of the second and made it 3-1 at 1:18 before Turris scored at 7:00 of the third period to put the game out of reach, setting the stage for the donnybrook that followed.
Silfverberg's second of the series only came eight seconds later at 7:08, but in fact it was at least 15 minutes after Turris' goal.
Appropriately enough, the game ended with Pageau completing his hat trick with a power-play goal at 18:02 of the third, with hats raining down on the Scotiabank Place ice to honor the local boy turned hero.