OTTAWA – What was a dream game for the Senators, and rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau in particular, ended up being a nightmare for the Canadiens.
Montreal’s 6-1 setback to Ottawa on Sunday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final was about an ugly a defeat as you will see—and most of it came in the third period.
Pageau, a native of Ottawa, had his first NHL hat trick in his first home playoff game as the Senators took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Montreal defenceman PK Subban, on the other hand, had 25 minutes in penalties, including a game misconduct and instigator penalty following a fight with Senators forward Kyle Turris. He was ejected less than nine minutes into the third period.
Subban also removed one of Pageau’s teeth with a high stick as the rookie was scoring his first goal of the game.
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t lay blame on any one payer, saying that you play as a team, and Sunday they lost as a team.
Therrien did however take a jab at Senator’s coach Paul MacLean, who took a timeout with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
“We were beaten by a better team, but a timeout with 17 seconds left, it’s rare that you see that,” said Therrien. “You let the players dictate the game. As a coach you never want to humiliate a team, but that’s exactly what MacLean was trying to do.
“To me, that was a total lack of class. I even talked to the ref and he’s never seen that.”
The time-out came as the Senators were up 6-1 and going on the power play after a long parade to the penalty box in the third period, as well as to the dressing room because of eight game misconducts as a result of a line brawl.
Canadiens’players Josh Georges and Brian Gionta said they thought Maclean was just telling his players to lay back and stay away from any further trouble with the game having long been decided.
Therrien wasn’t buying that. MacLean said he was just trying to protect his players from a situation the Canadiens instigated and he would do it again.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen next,” said MacLean. “I felt bad for referees but they wouldn’t let me bring my players to the bench so I could tell them what I wanted to do. My only recourse was to take the timeout because I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Things had gotten dumb enough as it was.”
All that aside, the fact remains the Canadiens will need to find a way to be better than they were Sunday, especially in the third period when goalie Carey Price allowed four goals on nine shots.
“We can be mad at them all we want, but we let it slip away and we didn’t respond the way we wanted to,”said Georges, who fired a slap shot at a Senators player in the game’s final seconds.
“In the playoffs, at this time of the year, you can’t lose your cool and for a stretch there in the third period we lost our heads. We have to regroup and figure out what we need to figure out.”
Staying out of the penalty box would be a good starting point. The Senators scored three times on the power play, as the Canadiens racked up 129 minutes in penalties compared to 107 for Ottawa.
“Good teams in the playoffs are able to overcome adversity, and that third period doesn’t get any worse for us,” said Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who missed Game 2 with an upper body injury. “We got embarrassed and it’s time for everybody to look in the mirror and say we’ve got to be better. We’re going to have to do that from puck drop in the next game. We know we have to be much better.”
Game 4 is Tuesday night in Ottawa.