NHL Game Summary - Ottawa at Montreal
(Friday, March 23rd)
Final Score: Montreal 5, Ottawa 1
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Erik Cole netted a natural hat trick in the first period and the Montreal Canadiens coasted to a 5-1 win over the Northeast Division rival Ottawa Senators on Friday at Bell Centre.
Petteri Nokelainen and Lars Eller also lit the lamp, while P.K. Subban, David Desharnais and Chris Campoli all had two assists for the Canadiens, who snapped their three-game losing streak. Carey Price made 37 saves in the victory.
"It was good to get pucks at the net," Cole said. "I tried to step by their defenseman and they slumped their shoulders a bit as we gained momentum. It was a good start for us and Carey made big saves in the early going. I was excited for the third goal, but one night doesn't change our standings. As a group we were five men strong sticking up for each other."
Jason Spezza scored the only goal for the Senators, who have dropped three straight and five of their last six contests.
Craig Anderson gave up three goals on 23 shots and Ben Bishop gave up two tallies on just nine shots in defeat.
Montreal grabbed the lead just 29 seconds into the game after Cole collected the puck in the neutral zone and gained the offensive blue line on the left wing with speed. Cole looked up at the top of the left circle and fired a wrist shot that deflected off the glove of Anderson and found its way into the far corner.
The Canadiens extended their lead to 2-0 at 4:56 of the first period when Subban ripped a wrist shot on net that was initially stopped by Anderson, but Cole was loitering in the crease and slipped the rebound home, sending Anderson to the bench for the reminder of the first period.
Cole completed his natural hat trick with a power-play goal at 5:41 of the opening frame. Subban fired a slap shot from the point that was initially stopped by Bishop, but the rebound squirted to the side of the net and Cole was right there to put it home.
The Canadiens struck again at 8:21 after Nokelainen picked up the puck in the neutral zone and raced up the left wing. He gained the line with speed and fired a quick wrister through the legs of Bishop.
Ottawa finally got on the board with 12.3 seconds showing on the first period clock after Spezza pounced on a loose puck right in front and lifted it over the shoulder of Price.
Montreal capped the scoring just over five minutes into the final frame with another power-play tally after Eller fired a shot from below the goal line that hit off the leg of Senators defenseman Sergei Gonchar and deflected past Anderson.
"I'm glad we don't have to play these guys again," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said. "They stormed us early, it's tough after five 1/2 minutes to have to make a goalie change. Anderson was not loose early, but we were able to get him back after the first to get more playing time."
Anderson returned to action after missing 12 games due to a laceration on his right hand. Spezza returned after missing one game with flu-like symptoms. It was his 600th career NHL game...The Senators fell to 18-13-6 on the road this season...Ottawa fell to 7-7-2 in the first leg of back-to-back situations this season...It was Cole's seventh career hat trick...The game featured 144 penalty minutes...Montreal went 2-for-7 with the man advantage, while Ottawa failed to score with two power-play chances.
03/23 23:33:17 ET