Lacking 'dirty' Hab-its

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

"It comes down to wanting to get your nose dirty and winning the battles," Canadiens defenceman Craig Rivet said while shaking his head in the loser's dressing room last night.

"We didn't do that."

No guff.

The Habs rolled over and died in a 3-0 loss to the Senators at The Bank, a men-against-boys mismatch that saw them outshot 40-12.

Montreal didn't hit double digits on the shots clock until there was about 2:30 left in the third, at which point the crowd let out a sarcastic roar of congratulations.

The only sour note for Senators fans, meanwhile, was a second period incident which involved Rivet and rugged right winger Chris Neil.

Responding to a blindside hit by Neil on teammate Michael Ryder, Rivet dropped his gloves and grabbed Neil's jersey, wanting to scrap.

Neil refused, and boos were heard. Not many, but some, and on a night like this they were perhaps louder than usual as the only chord of dissatisfaction from the homeside's faithful.

"He asked me to fight ... he came after me and dropped his gloves," Neil said after.

DELAY OF GAME CALL

And why didn't you go?

"We went on the power play," Neil said, referring to the delay of game call on Rivet.

Right then and there, Ottawa fans wanted to see a fight more than they wanted to see the Senators in another man-advantage situation, however.

"We were up 3-0," Neil explained.

"It doesn't matter if you win your fight ... it gives the other team momentum. At that point, there is still lots of time for them to come back.

"You've got to look out for your team in a situation like that."

The move, or lack thereof, might make sense.

Still doesn't mean you have to like it.

And clearly, you didn't.

Me either.

Starts and Stops:

Accommodating Habs D Sheldon "Hip-Hip" Souray did everything but pull his pants down and point when describing to reporters yesterday morning the infectious cut high on his right thigh that has him taking antibiotics and kept him from playing Wednesday in Philly. "It was way too sore to play (against the Flyers), but feeling a little better now," said Souray, who also admitted the problem had him feeling fatigued. "It's almost like an ingrown hair, but 100 times more painful." Souray was in the lineup last night, and -- as was the case on Jason Spezza's dazzling overtime goal vs. Montreal here earlier this season -- once again undressed by a Senator. This time it was Zdeno Chara doing the deed, deking Souray like he was a pylon en route to giving Ottawa a lead that would stand up at 12:36 of the opening period ... Along with his two goals off howitzers, King Daniel Alfredsson of Sweden also drilled former Senators teammate Radek Bonk into the glass in front of the Montreal penalty box. Judging by Bonk's double take, he had to be thinking, "What the ...?"

Things that make you go hmmm...:

A Chara slap shot during a second-period power play broke Steve Begin's stick shaft in half. Imagine getting that in the ribs? ... Wonder if fiddler Bobby Lalonde can maybe build on the song list (of one?) he delivers during stoppages in play at The Bank. Like, some 50 Cent might be nice. And even appropriate ... The only two penalties of the first period went to Senators No. 14, rookie Andrej Meszaros, and the Habs No. 14, Bonk. The time of the Meszaros penalty -- 14:14 ... The Team's John Rodenburg should be happy to know the Binghamton Senators have signed one of his all-time favourite OHLers, Cory Pecker. A former teammate of Ray Emery's in Sault St. Marie, Pecker is currently on the Baby Sens' top line with Steve Martins and Denis Hamel.

Punch lines:

Recalled by the Habs three days ago but a healthy scratch last night was mammoth W Raitis Ivanans. Last time we saw Ivanans in the NHL it was October, and he was leaving the Bell Centre ice with an orbital bone that had just been broken by Chara's right fist. Talking yesterday morning with Cheapseats about the fight that put him on the shelf for five weeks, the 6-foot-4, 263-lb. Ivanans claimed the Big Zee was guilty of foul play. "I fell, and basically the ref was holding me down when he gave me a cheap shot upper cut," the 27-year-old Latvian said. "It was the heat of the moment, I guess." Asked if he'll seek revenge next time he's on the ice with Chara, Ivanans said: "Yeah. You do what you've got to do." Good luck to you, sir .... Don't know how it looked in slow motion, but the Cristobal Huet glove save off Dany Heatley early in the first period was unbelievable live and from four levels above ice.

SOME THINGS WORTH NOTING...

TILTED ICE: The 16-3 shots on goal favouring the Senators in the opening 20 minutes doesn't quite tell the whole story. In the first period, the Habs were also credited with 15 blocked shots (compared to five by Senators) while Ottawa players were tagged with six shots that missed the mark (compared to one by a Canadien). In summation, then, the Senators fired 37 shots toward the Montreal net, while Habs sent nine toward Ottawa's.

SPECIAL TEAMS MOMENT: On the game's first penalty, a roughing call to Ottawa's Andrej Meszaros, the Senators barely allowed the Habs to enter their zone. During the two minutes, the home team outshot its guests 3-0, including a long, clear cut breakaway by Mike Fisher that, after a deke to the backhand, saw Cristobal Huet deflect the puck into the glass. The Senators wound up converting 2-of-7 power plays and killing all four of their shorthanded situations.


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