Sens shutout Canadiens 3-0


The Montreal Canadiens are going to have to do something about Jason Spezza. He’s killing them.


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The Montreal Canadiens are going to have to do something about Jason Spezza. He’s killing them.

Coming into the game, Spezza had 18 goals and 20 assists in 27 games against the Canadiens. This season, he already had five goals and seven assists. Thursday night, he did it to them again.

He had two goals, both on the power play, to lead the Ottawa Senators to a 3-0 victory. Antoine Vermette, who took a shot off the visor in the final minute of the game, also scored for the Senators.

Spezza also stifled Montreal’s third-period push when Guillaume Latendresse clipped him in the corner of his lips and got four minutes for high sticking.

Spezza got a bunch of stitches after the game.

“It’s an awkward cut,” he said. “Not the most pleasant feeling thing.”

The Senators have won five of the six meetings between the teams this year.

“We won’t get out of the east until we find a way to beat these guys,” Canadiens forward Christopher Higgins said.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said his team must figure out a way to cope with Ottawa’s experience.

“The teams we have trouble with are the more experienced teams,” he said. “These are the teams that are a little older and they’ve done what we’re we trying to achieve.”

The victory, their third straight, was significant for the Senators, who appear to have recovered their form under general manager and coach Bryan Murray.

It left the Senators (40-25-7) and Canadiens (39-24-9) both with 87 points, but Ottawa ranks first in the National Hockey League’s Northeast Division standings because it has one more win than Montreal.

Both teams are tied with the the Pittsburgh Penguins (40-24-7), one point behind the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils (41-24-6) for first place in the Eastern Conference.

With his best game since he took over the No. 1 job, Martin Gerber got his second shutout of the year and the ninth of this career. He faced 28 shots.

“It’s all about getting back in the comfort zone we were in early on,” said Gerber.

“You do that through discipline, execution, and hard work out there. We managed to stay calm out there, we stayed out of the penalty box, for the most part, and the chances we got we were able to put in the net.

“I think we’re playing much better now than we have been the last few months. The shutout is nice but getting the win is more important.”

Murray had high praise for Gerber and Spezza.

“Martin it goes without saying didn’t give up much,” he said. “They had some chances in the third period but he shut them down.

“Jason Spezza continues to work hard at his game. He’s playing back in his own zone better and he’s obviously leading the way on the power play.

“But that’s what you have to have. You have to have your good players playing well.”

The first 20 minutes were energetic and fast-paced and the Senators had to weather an early penalty when Wade Redden got called for high-sticking just 42 seconds into the game. They did that, but it wasn’t easy, not against the league’s top power play. However, Gerber was every bit as solid as he has been for the last week and a half.

The Senators then took advantage of their first power-play chance, with Canadiens defenceman Mark Streit in the box for hooking. Spezza got his first of the night when he deflected a shot from Cory Stillman on the right point. The deflection went up and into the top corner.

Ottawa got a second power-play chance just as the period was ending, but had to wait until the start of the second to make something of it.

This time Spezza got an unorthodox one. From beside the Montreal net, he batted a rebound against the back boards and the puck bounced off Price into the goal. It was reviewed, because there was some question whether his stick was higher than the net when the batted the puck, but it was quickly confirmed.

They made it 3-0 with 1:59 to go in the period on a play that had Carey Price complaining to his defenceman.

The goalie stopped a shot from Chris Kelly, but Vermette was there to get the rebound and bang it in on the left side. The goal was his 17th of the season.

Ottawa Citizen

With files from the Montreal Gazette

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