Canadiens 6, Senators 3
Hey, you didn't expect the Senators to go undefeated this season, did you?
The Senators' pre-season bubble, and that of comeback goaltender Dominik Hasek, sprang a leak last night with a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Corel Centre.
The Senators' first loss of the pre-season, in front of 19,429 fans, dropped them to 6-1. They wrap up their pre-season schedule tonight in Montreal.
The lessons of the pre-season are no different than in the regular season. Take too many penalties, try the easy play, turn the puck over and get outworked and you're probably going to lose unless your goaltender stands on his head.
Hasek didn't do that last night, giving up five goals in an 11-shot span.
"I don't want to say it was a wake-up call, but it's something to learn from," said Hasek. "It was definitely a frustrating night for me, especially in the third when I didn't have too much work and then gave up three goals.
"I don't want to say I'm happy we lost -- I'm pretty upset -- but maybe it's better to lose this game than in the regular season."
With Ottawa up 2-0 on a pair of goals by Martin Havlat, the Habs scored the next four in a row.
Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec, looking like a lock to make the team as he moved into the Canadiens' pre-season scoring lead, got the Habs on the board with a wrister from the left circle that looked like it might have gone in off the stick of Ottawa defenceman Zdeno Chara.
The Habs got three whacks at their next one before Mike Ribeiro slipped it under Hasek with just five seconds left in the second period to tie it.
Montreal's Alexei Kovalev shot off the wing through a defenceman to give the Habs the lead on the power play at 2:38 of the third.
Hasek then looked like he got caught on his heels on the next two. Montreal's Richard Zednik tapped a pass from Plekanec underneath Hasek's pads from the edge of the crease to make it 4-2.
Then, after Ottawa's Dany Heatley pulled the Senators to within a goal, Montreal's Michael Ryder skated around Hasek and tucked one in the long side at 10:32 on a partial break.
"I thought (Hasek) played well," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "We put him in a bad position so many times. I said to the players at the end of two (periods), in a game like this you have to give your goaltender a chance and we didn't give him a chance."
"We got outworked more than anything," said Senators centre Jason Spezza, who had another couple of assists. "We knew it wasn't going to be smooth sailing the whole way."
The Senators will have to make their final roster moves by tomorrow afternoon.
Forward Steve Martins and defenceman Lance Ward cleared waivers yesterday to report to the Senators' American Hockey League farm club in Binghamton.
Murray said he and GM John Muckler will likely decide the club's next moves during the team's bus trip to Montreal today to face the Habs at the Bell Centre tonight.
The Senators must pare another two bodies to get down to the 20-man roster they will carry into Wednesday's season opener in Toronto (not including injured winger Vaclav Varada).
The battles have boiled down to defencemen Christoph Schubert and Andrej Meszaros and forwards Denis Hamel and Chris Kelly.