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An overtime goal by defenceman Ben Chiarot allowed rookie goaltender Cayden Primeau to pick up his first NHL victory Wednesday as he backstopped the Canadiens to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night at the Bell Centre. Primeau made 35 saves as the Canadiens extended their current win streak to a modest three games.
Primeau played with a razor-thin margin through the first two periods and there was only a brief respite after Tomas Tatar scored 29 seconds into the third period to give Montreal a 2-0 lead. Brendan Gallagher chased down a long pass in the corner and then went to the net to screen Anders Nilsson as Tatar launched a shot from 30 feet out.
That goal proved to be crucial because the Senators cut the lead to one goal when Brady Tkachuk scored a power-play goal at 4:30, 22 seconds after Gallagher went off for tripping and Tkachuk set up Connor Brown who scored on a backhander to tie the game with 6:55 to play.
The Canadiens had a sluggish start, which was to be expected after playing Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, where they beat the Penguins 4-1. Ottawa had an 8-1 edge in shots after seven minutes and the Canadiens could be grateful that Primeau looked more comfortable than he did in the first period of his NHL debut last week.
The Canadiens picked up some momentum when Cody Goloubef was assessed a penalty for tripping Nate Thompson. Shea Weber gave Nilsson a scare when he unleashed a slapshot from the blue line. The captain passed on a second opportunity to wind one up. He passed to Max Domi at the top of the right faceoff circle and Nick Cousins was in front of the net to deflect Domi’s shot for his fourth goal of the season.
The crowd showed its appreciation for the rookie netminder when they began to chant “Pri-meau, Pri-meau” after he made a stop on Tkachuk midway through the second period. The chants grew louder at the end of the period when he stopped two Ottawa breakaways.
It was another good night for the Montreal penalty-killing unit. The Canadiens came into this game ranked 28th on the PK, but there are signs that they are beginning to get it right.
Ottawa went 1-for-5 on the night and, over the past eight games, the Canadiens have killed 20 of 22 opposition power plays.
Coach Claude Julien said there are a number of factors that have gone into the turnaround.
“We’re blocking shots, we’re more aware of our positioning, we’re taking away the seam passes,” Julien said. “It’s also important to stay disciplined and not find yourself in a position where you’re short-handed.”
The Canadiens made life easy on Primeau during the first Ottawa power play by not letting a single shot reach the goalie.
The Canadiens will make their annual visit to the city’s children’s hospitals Thursday and will be back in action Saturday when the Detroit Red Wings visit the Bell Centre.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019