OTTAWA – Carey Price didn’t have to be brilliant to get his first shutout of the season.
Price made 19 saves, but didn’t have to make a single stop until 13 minutes into the game, and the Montreal Canadiens downed the Ottawa Senators 3-0 Saturday.
“Our guys played great tonight,” said Price, who earned the fifth shutout of his career. “(The shutout) was awesome, but just secondary as we all wanted to come in and get the win.”
From start to finish Montreal was the better team with Andrei Kostitsyn leading the way with two goals. Benoit Pouliot also scored for the Habs (4-2-1).The Senators (2-5-1) seemed to lose all the momentum they gained after a win over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.
“It’s frustrating because we know we need to start winning and getting on a role and getting better,” Ottawa forward Mike Fisher said. “It’s got to start sometime and all we can do is look forward to Tuesday.”
The Canadiens struck quickly as Kostitsyn opened the scoring off the rush midway through the first period. Once the Senators fell behind they seemed to be incapable of rallying.
“When you come out like that you wish you could figure out exactly what it is, but we came out with lots of energy, lots of attention to detail and good execution,”said Canadians star forward Mike Cammalleri, who had one assist. “If I had the secret then we would do it every night, but we’ll try to repeat that as much as we can.”
Pouliot made it 2-0 at 13:42 mark of the second, burying a rebound off the back boards over a sprawled Brian Elliott.
Less than five minutes later, Kostitsyn picked up his second, beating Elliott short side after being left all alone.
“Andrei’s playing really well,” said Cammalleri, Kostitsyn’s linemate. “He’s got a great skill set and he’s using it well. It was a good a night for us to be able to contribute and good win overall.”
The two teams met last Saturday in Montreal when the Canadiens scored a 4-3 come-from-behind win. Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist in that one.
Elliott stopped 31 shots Saturday and could hardly be blamed for the loss as his teammates struggled to create any offence.
“We’ve got to find our footing here,” said Elliott. “As a goaltender you just have to be the backbone and keep us in games until we figure stuff out. We did some positive things in the game and we have to look to that and move forward.”
Despite controlling the play for extended periods of time in the third, the Senators never managed to create any real scoring chances.
“It’s not just one thing, if it was one thing you could address it,” Senators forward Chris Kelly said. “It seems to be all parts of our game. Obviously getting the puck to the net, creating offensive opportunities, taking care of our own end and getting outworked at times.”
During the first television timeout, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson was given a standing ovation by the 20,301 at Scotiabank Place for recording his 1,000th point in Friday’s win over Buffalo. Alfredsson, who had a hat trick in the game, became the 75th NHL player to reach the milestone.
Notes: The Senators were without C Jason Spezza (groin, day-to-day), D Filip Kuba (broken right leg, two weeks). C Zack Smith was recalled from the AHL’s Binghamton Senators. D Brian Lee was a healthy scratch. … Montreal was without D Andrei Markov who continues to recover from knee surgery. C Dustin Boyd and D Ryan O’Byrne were a healthy scratches for the Canadiens.