MONTREAL – The Canadiens put together a dramatic comeback that left the Senators speechless.
Down 4-1 to the Senators with three and a half minutes to play on Saturday, Montreal scored three unanswered goals to force over time—including a David Desharnais buzzer-beater with less than a second on the clock—before Francis Bouillon scored in overtime for the 5-4 victory.
“I don’t really know what to say,” said a visibly perplexed Marc Methot, who was on the ice for Ottawa on the game-tying goal. “It felt like we were in control, even in the third period. We weren’t playing on our heels, at least for a good amount of it. They got confidence, and they got the crowd back into it.”
Bouillon made for an unlikely overtime hero as he entered the game with no goals in 40 games this season.
Lars Eller got the comeback underway for Montreal (36-25-7), scoring at 16:38 of the third to reduce the deficit to two. Eller pushed a rebound past a sprawled-out Robin Lehner for his first goal in his last 25 games.
Captain Brian Gionta, who assisted Eller’s goal, added another less than minute later as he deflected a P.K. Subban shot to the back of the net to make it 4-3.
With the Habs on the power play, and their net empty for the extra attacker, Montreal sent everybody to the front of Lehner’s net and Desharnais put in the tying goal at 19:59 off a feed from Subban.
“I looked up at the clock to see how much time there was. I saw quickly that there were fours seconds left,” said Subban. “If I had the shot, I’m sure it would have been blocked. I saw Davey (Desharnais) waving at me. Big players score in those big moments.”
The comeback wasn’t without controversy. On the game-winning goal, Senators (28-25-13) players were convinced Lehner had frozen the puck long before it was poked away by Max Pacioretty onto Bouillon’s stick.
After the game, referees apparently told Ottawa captain Jason Spezza that there was no whistle on the play because the building was too loud.
“I have no idea what that means,” said Sens coach Paul MacLean. “That’s the explanation we got. I’m confused.”
“I’m pretty frustrated,” added Methot. “It was almost deafening towards the end when they scored. I have to be careful with the words I use. It looked like our goalie had possession of the puck. It’s tough for the refs, I get that. There’s a lot of noise, a lot of distractions.”
The game marked the return of Carey Price, who saw his first NHL action since Feb. 8, prior to the Olympic break. Price was out of the lineup for eight games with a lower-body injury that he sustained in Sochi.
The 26-year-old Price made 29 saves for his 27th win of the year. After the game, however, head coach Michel Therrien announced Price would not follow the team to Buffalo for their next game, presumably due to the injury.
Montreal, with Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski in net, went 3-4-1 and conceded 28 goals without Price.
Jason Spezza, Zack Smith, Ales Hemsky and Clarke MacArthur scored for Ottawa.
The slumping Senators have now lost five of their last seven games and sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, six points out of a playoff spot.
The Canadiens came flying out of the gate, with Daniel Briere putting one past Lehner on the team’s third shot, 38 seconds into the first period.
Spezza equalized against the run of play on the Sens’ first shot of the game at 3:08, beating Price with a rocket of a slap shot into the top corner of the net.
Coming off back-to-back shutouts at the Sochi Games, the goal allowed was Price’s first in more than 167 minutes of hockey.
Ottawa took a 2-1 lead at 17:10 of the second period when Smith scored his 11th of the year on a breakaway. Smith took a long stretch pass from Karlsson at the blue line, was stopped by Price, but scored on his own rebound.
Hemsky doubled their lead at 1:54 of the third, beating Price under the blocker for his seventh point in four games since being traded to the Senators. MacArthur made it 4-1 three minutes later.
Notes: Lehner, who made 43 saves on the night, got the start for Ottawa in place of starter Craig Anderson (shoulder). Anderson was injured in the third period of Monday’s loss to the Nashville Predators. … Michael Bournival (concussion) missed his 10th consecutive game. … Ottawa wore their heritage jerseys. … Thomas Vanek has yet to score on 13 shots in four games since donning a Canadiens uniform. … The last time the Habs and Senators met, on Jan. 16, P.K. Subban was criticized for celebrating his overtime-winner with gusto. The two teams play once more this season, on April 4 in the nation’s capital.