OTTAWA – For an Ottawa Senators team ravaged by injuries this season, the loss of No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson to a sprained ankle was seen by many as the final blow.
Enter Ben Bishop.
The NHL’s third star last week turned aside 44 shots in regulation and overtime and Peter Regin scored in the fifth round of the shootout Monday as the Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 for their season-high fifth straight win.
The victory was the second in as many starts for Bishop, who took over in goal three games ago after Anderson was knocked out against the New York Rangers last Thursday.
“It was all Bishop,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean, whose team was outshot 45-24 and outplayed for long stretches on Monday. “I thought (Montreal) really skated well and really cut us off and didn’t give us an opportunity to do very much and Ben was outstanding in the net.
“For the most part I thought they dominated the rink for most of the game but we would bend and we would bend but we wouldn’t break. One of the strengths of our organization right now is goaltending and we’ve been leaning on it quite a bit.”
Jakob Silfverberg also scored in the shootout for Ottawa, while David Desharnais replied for Montreal.
After Regin, who returned to the lineup after missing the last seven games with a chest injury, gave the Senators the lead in the shootout with a goal that sent Habs goalie Carey Price spinning to the ice, Bishop stopped Tomas Plekanec for his fourth win of the season.
“There were a lot of shots so it was easy to stay in the game and keep that rhythm up,” Bishop said. “I thought the guys did a good job in front of me. Andy is playing so well so whenever I get a chance to get in there I just want to hold up my end of the deal and give the team a chance to win.”
Minus a number of regulars including defenceman Erik Karlsson (lacerated Achilles) and centre Jason Spezza (back surgery), the Senators have still found a way to grind out wins.
Regin had a chance to end the game late in overtime but saw his slapshot from the high slot ring off the post behind Price, who finished with 23 saves.
Dave Dziurzynski scored in regulation for the Senators (11-6-2), while Andrei Markov replied for the Canadiens (12-4-2).
Dziurzynski’s goal came from the top of the faceoff circle off the rush on a shot Price should have handled with ease at 6:49 of the second.
The Canadiens finally solved Bishop with their 30th shot as Markov ripped a point shot on the power play with just four second remaining in the period.
“The result was not on our side and the story of the game was that Bishop was outstanding,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “I liked the way we played. We dictated the play, we played hard, we were aggressive on the puck and we did a lot of good things.”
Tied 1-1 after two periods, the score stayed that way for the third and into overtime, which started three-on-three because of penalties. Ottawa got one skater back and enjoyed a brief power play before Kyle Turris went off for hooking. It was back to three-on-three before the Canadiens got their fourth power play of the game, but Montreal couldn’t beat Bishop, who had his best night as a Senator.
The teams played to a scoreless first period, although the Canadiens did have the best opportunity with Max Pacioretty hitting the post behind Bishop.
That was the beginning of the Canadiens’ assault on goal posts. Erik Cole rang a shot of the crossbar in the second before Raphael Diaz hit the post to the right of Bishop.
“It was one of those nights,” Therrien said. “The story of the game was their goalie and he deserved a lot of credit for that win.”
Notes: The Canadiens were in first place on Feb. 25 for the first time since 1993, the year they last won the Stanley Cup. … Canadiens defenceman Francis Bouillon played his 500th game with Montreal. He has played 695 total games in the NHL. … Entering Monday’s game Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson had 420 career goals. The rest of the Senators lineup a combined 524. … After scoring four goals in his first four games, Senators forward Kyle Turris has now gone 16 without a goal.