Not even Jason Spezza could explain it.
"Just instinct," said the Senators centre.
Spezza turned instinct into a dazzling slice of action last night, destined to be replayed on the highlight shows, giving the Senators a 4-3 victory in overtime at the Corel Centre.
Just past the midway point of overtime, at the end of a long shift, legs burning, Spezza turned Montreal defenceman Sheldon Souray inside out in the right wing faceoff circle and then swept in on Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore, who had been brilliant on the night.
But this was a moment totally out of Theodore's control.
The move on Souray -- a clean beat -- was good, but the finish was better. Forehand to backhand and the puck was up over Theodore's right shoulder and under the bar.
"You don't see an NHL defenceman get beat like that 1-on-1 too often," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "But (Spezza) is one of the guys who can do it with that long reach and those great moves."
The goal ended a spectacular night of hockey for the 18,840 on hand, a dynamic advertisement for the "new" NHL, lots of speed, no tolerance for the clutch and grab, some big hits, great goaltending and four second-period power-play goals as the teams swapped the lead.
With their one point for the OT loss, the Habs (7-2-1) hung onto top spot in the Northeast Division with 15 to the Senators' 14 (7-1-0). The Senators hold two games in hand.
The Habs led 3-2 after two periods on a goal by Michael Ryder and two by Mike Ribeiro (on the power play). Zdeno Chara and Dany Heatley had the Senators' goals, also on the power play. Ottawa's Antoine Vermette scored the lone goal of the third, his third of the season, to send it into overtime.
In overtime, with the puck high in the Ottawa zone, Spezza was out near the red line when Heatley sprung it loose.
"It's 4-on-4 and he's out at the red line and I'm saying, 'What the ... ?'" said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "He was really tired at that point and he had been out there for a while. He made a great play. There wasn't much (Theodore) could do to make the stop."
"I guess it was one of things where if I don't score, I'm in a lot of trouble," said Spezza. "At that point in the game, I'm tired, they're tired and I'm just trying to get to the net.
"It was just instinct after that. You just do what comes natural."
Spezza's goal made a winner out of Senators goaltender Ray Emery.
"I'm the opposing coach, but it was a helluva goal," said Canadiens coach Claude Julien.
The Senators are in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs tomorrow night and home Sunday to host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Senators (OT) 4