MONTREAL – Chris Neil is better known for his physical play than his hands, but the rugged Ottawa winger played the role of sniper on Saturday night.
Neil got the tying and winning goals in the third period as the Senators downed the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in pre-season play.
The game-winner came with 28 seconds left in regulation, just as an Ottawa power play ended.
“I always like being booed in another team’s building,” Neil said. “Usually, it’s for a fight or something, so whenever you can get a couple of goals it’s nice.”
Neil tied the game 8:57 into the third when his pass across the front of the net went in off the skate of Montreal defenceman Jeff Woywitka.
Nikita Filatov then circled the net on a rush and saw his pass go off a body in front, where an unmarked Neil lifted the puck into an open side for the game-winner.
Milan Michalek also scored for Ottawa (2-1-1), which blew a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 shootout loss at home to Montreal on Friday night.
Michael Cammalleri scored twice in the second period for the Canadiens (1-3-1).
Cammalleri deflected down a Mark Mitera shot past goaltender Robin Lehner at 4:23 of the second. The assist went to Aaron Palushaj. All three once played at the University of Michigan.
“That’s not a small detail, that’s a big detail,” Cammalleri said with a smile. “I turned around to the coaches and said it’s pretty much guaranteed that if you put three Michigan guys on the ice you’re going to get a goal. (Michigan coach) Red Berenson will tell you that.”
Cammaleri was sent in on a breakaway on a backhand pass up the middle from Palushaj to score off the post at 7:02.
It was a strong game for the line of the veteran Cammalleri and two prospects battling for an NHL job—Palushaj and Gabriel Dumont.
Palushaj had two assists, one shot and was plus-1. Dumont had no points, took three shots and had an even plus-minus.
Coach Jacques Martin appeared more impressed with Palushaj.
“He had his best game of the pre-season by far,” Martin said. “He worked hard on the puck, he used his speed.”
The coach sounded a little dismissive of Dumont’s effort, saying “He works hard, but he has things to learn. We like the intensity he brings.”
First-round draft pick Nathan Beaulieu led Montreal in ice time with 22:54, but had an up and down game and was minus-1.
Ottawa saw top defence prospect Jared Cowan go plus-2 and skate for 23:41, second most on the team behind veteran Sergei Gonchar’s 25:17. Stephane Da Costa had an energetic game and an assist for Ottawa and was also plus-2.
Only 25 seconds remained in the second period when Michalek got his second of the pre-season when he beat Price from the slot.
Ottawa outshot Montreal 28-24, with both goaltenders going the distance.
“It’s exhibition, so it’s a little sloppy, but it’s a good opportunity to work on a few things and work on our systems as a group,” said Price, who has allowed 10 goals in three exhibition appearances. “It’s a process.
“Now is the time to work on little details that will make a difference when it comes to the real deal.”
Each team used only eight NHL players and gave their prospects a look.
The Canadiens play the Bruins in Halifax on Sunday before hosting Boston on Monday night. Major cuts are expected on Monday.
The Sens travel to St. John’s, N.L., to face the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night, before returning home to face Toronto on Tuesday.