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Strong Start, Strong Finish

December 5, 2018, 9:03 AM ET [447 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Divisional match ups are always important but even more so when only two points separate the teams in the standings. Last night at the Bell Centre, a huge game awaited the Habs. They were in the second wild card spot only two points ahead of the Senators and it was therefore one of those "4 points" game.

Contrarily to Sunday, the Habs were ready from the get go last night, when that puck dropped, they were in every battle and eager to come out on top. They didn't score right away but their intentions were clear and when Drake Batherson hit Andrew Shaw with a questionable hit, Max Domi jumped in to defend his teammate. While some thought that was poor judgement on his part, I think it reflects something that has been insanely important this season; these guys care about one another. We didn't see much of that last season and we didn't see many wins either. At the end of the day, actions like those are what builds a real, coherent team. Thankfully, the Habs were able to kill the penalty that resulted and the rest of the period belonged to them. Near the 15 minute mark, Jonathan Drouin opened the score on a beautiful Domi feed. They entered the offensive zone on a 2 on 1 and Domi drew the defence man to him and waited, waited, waited... and just as I was thinking "Damn it, he waited to long" he served the perfect saucer pass to Drouin who was alone with Anderson and beat him on his backhand. You got to love those DDs (plays, get your mind out of the gutter please)! At the end of the first, the Habs lead 1-0 and had 17 shots to Ottawa's 10.

The Sens tied things up before the 10 minute mark of the second but the Canadiens did not let that affect them. Claude Julien decided to shake things up and bit and promoted Paul Byron to the Domi and Drouin line while Andrew Shaw was put on the third alongside Kotkaniemi and Lehkonen. Those changes proved very effective and on the first shift of the newly formed 1st line (although some would say it's the 2nd), Domi score his first of the game and added another one less than 3 minutes later on which Byron got an assist. Less than a minute after that, Shaw and Kotkaniemi fed Lehkonen who scored his 3rd goal in 2 games. The Habs were up 4-1 and never looked back.

Gallagher put the game out of reach early in the 3rd period and while Ottawa did score a second through Mark Stone, it was just too little too late. In the end, both Drouin and Domi had themselves a 3 points night and were respectively the 2nd and 1st star of the game. After each game on RDS, Marc Denis interviews the first star, in this case Domi, and as he did so, the Bell Centre crowd kept cheering: "Domi! Domi! Domi!" much to the joy of number 13. This is the kind of moment which allows the fans to see that a player really and truly appreciates them and at the same time, it also made it very clear that Domi enjoys the spotlight he is getting in the giant hockey market that is Montreal.

It's also worth noting that:
- The Canadiens had 41 shots compared to the Sens' 30
- Of those 30 shots, Carey Price saved 28 for a save percentage of .933 which is the kind of numbers that you want to see from your elite goaltender
- Matthew Peca brought more speed to the 4th line and ended up playing for over 12 minutes;
-Jesperi Kotkaniemi was the less used forward with 11 minutes and 22 seconds of ice time.

Montreal will be in Ottawa on Thursday and you can bet the Sens will be eager to get their revenge...
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