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Sens grab 1st in Northeast by beating Habs 2-1 in OT

by Erin Nicks
KANATA, Ont. --  The Ottawa Senators have been chasing the Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division all season. On Friday, they finally caught and passed them.

Filip Kuba's goal 3:07 into overtime gave the Senators a 2-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens, moving Ottawa a point ahead of Boston -- though the defending Stanley Cup champs have two games in hand.

Kuba took a pass from Daniel Alfredsson at the top of the left circle and stepped into a slap shot that Carey Price never saw, capping a night that saw the Senators outshoot Montreal 33-14 but come up empty on nine power plays.

"(Alfredsson) found me," Kuba said. "I was pretty close to the net – I got it on net and it happened."

The win also vaults the Senators into second place in the East – a revelation that caught Colin Greening by surprise.

"We're second? Oh, I didn't know … that's fantastic," he said. "I knew we were first in the Northeast, but that's great. I guess the challenge will be staying there."

With Toronto coming to Scotiabank Place on Saturday, Senators coach Paul MacLean wasn't ready to celebrate.

"It's obviously good; we'll enjoy it tonight," MacLean said. "The team has worked real hard. We've said all along, ‘We don't know where we're going to be until we play 82 games.' Once we do that, we'll see where we are and go from there."

Montreal opened the scoring at 8:18 in the first period. Canadiens forward Petteri Nokelainen was called for hooking at 6:25, but it was the Canadiens who scored when Ryan White passed up the ice to Plekanec, who skated through the slot unchallenged and beat Ben Bishop with a slap shot over his glove. It was Plekanec's second shorthanded goal of the season – the other one came on Jan. 14, also against Ottawa.

Special teams have been a major storyline between Ottawa and Montreal this season. In the previous four games between the clubs this season, the Canadiens had killed 17 of 18 power plays and scored two shorthanded goals. On Friday night, Montreal killed nine Ottawa power plays and scored yet another shorthanded goal. The Canadiens possess the best road penalty kill in the League, coming into Friday night's game with a success rate of 91 percent.

Ottawa's power play is 0-for-15 in the last four games.

"Obviously that's what you're disappointed in -- the amount of work the penalty killers have to do. Some of the calls were deserved, but some you shake your head at," Montreal coach Randy Cunneyworth said. "It's tough on the guys who aren't on the ice (during PK) for that role, as well. They're sitting and the rhythm for the bench is difficult."

The inability to turn their nine power plays into goals didn't discourage the Senators.

"It didn't suck the life out of us as it can in other times, but it certainly would've been nice to have it make a difference in the game, especially having a 5-on-3 for over a minute," MacLean said. "I thought Carey Price was good in their net. Their penalty structure is very good. We could learn from it."

It took some 5-on-5 time to for the Senators to tie things up at 6:27 in the third – an iced puck in the Montreal zone was scooped up in the left corner and centered by Zack Smith. Colin Greening gained control of the puck and backhanded it past Price's glove.

"It was great," Greening said. "Not only because it was nice to score, but you could feel it building up. I felt like we were taking it to them for most of the game, and I thought we were rewarded with that goal."

Greening was quick to brush off Ottawa's bad night on the power play and insisted that the bench remained positive during the drought.

"It happens," he said. "It just means we had an off night. It's weird how things happen, but it was just one of those games when things didn't go our way. Everyone stayed up which I think is the most important thing.  Sometimes things like this can take the wind out of your sails, but I think for the most part we played consistently for 60 minutes, and that's tough when you can't get anything going on a power play that's expected to score.

"We'll enjoy this now, but it's back to work tomorrow."
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