Canadiens get off to fast start in win over Senators
OTTAWA — Every time Montreal Canadiens rookie Charles Hudon has scored in the past six years, he makes the sign of a cross and points to the sky.
It’s in tribute to his closest childhood friend, Nicholas Antonelli, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2011.
On Monday at Canadian Tire Centre, Hudon scored the first two NHL goals as the Canadiens put an 8-3 beating on the Ottawa Senators. Afterwards, he spoke of his pal.
“Today is a big one,” Hudon said of the first-period milestone marker that erased the Canadiens’ only deficit of the night. “I’m pretty sure he felt my joy about that goal. He’s there. I’m always talking to him. I’m pretty sure he’s happy.”
Artturi Lehkonen also scored twice as the Canadiens (4-7-1) won their second in a row to escape the Eastern Conference basement. Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec had the other Montreal goals.
Tom Pyatt, Ryan Dzingel and Chris DiDomenico scored for Ottawa as the Senators (5-2-5) dropped their second straight.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson was pulled after giving up six goals on 15 shots through two periods. Also having a night to forget was Erik Karlsson, the Senators’ two-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman.
Karlsson was a minus-6.
“I think I’ve definitely had way worse games and got away with it,” said Karlsson. “Today was not one of those nights. That’s something you’re going to have to deal with throughout the season, throughout your career. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. It’s not something that’s going to affect me moving forward.”
Making his second start of the season, Canadiens backup Al Montaya gave up a goal 21 seconds in but settled down to make 25 saves.
“It’s a wild night,” said Montoya, whose team led 4-2 after one period and 6-3 upon the completion of two. “After that first one I had to remind myself I’ve been there before. It’s one of those things you’ve got to put behind you and luckily the team came back and they didn’t let that push us back.”
“We’re making bounces happen,” added Montoya. “We’re making plays happen. Guys aren’t holding their sticks too tight. It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”
The Senators drew to within one goal, trailing 4-3, on DiDomenico’s power-play goal just past the midway mark of the second.
But the Habs pulled away in the period’s final minutes on a breakaway goal by Galchenyuk and a strong individual effort from Gallagher.
They scored twice on 14 shots at Anderson’s replacement, Mike Condon, while the Senators responded with just nine shots of their own.
“We had a stinker,” said Senators coach Guy Boucher, whose team had picked up a point in 10 of its first 11 games. “It’s our first one in 12 games. I’d love to say it’s going to be our last one, but 82 games, we all know it’s not true.
“You hate to have it now, you hate to have it at home, you hate to have it against them, that’s for sure. But we’ve won as a team, we’ve battled as a team and now we’ve lost as a team. We were off.”
After losing all three games in California two weeks ago, the Canadiens believe they’re turning the ship around.
“I think my GM (Marc Bergevin) said that about a week ago and he also said the answer is in the room,” said Canadiens coach Claude Julien. “He’s proving to be right and I agree with him. It plays a big role. You can’t keep losing hockey games and feel good about yourself. When you start winning, the confidence comes back.”
Anderson is confident the Senators will bounce back strong when they host Detroit on Thursday.
“The good news is that we can come back to work the next day and try to improve,” he said. “We want to make sure we do everything in our power to change, so we don’t allow this stuff to happen again.
“At the end of the day, we’re very proud people in here. And that was not a proud effort.”
NOTES: Senators C Kyle Turris missed his third game with a viral infection. Turris is expected to play Thursday, when the Senators host Detroit ... Senators D Mark Borowiecki was a late scratch due to illness. He was replaced by F Max McCormick. ... Canadiens G Al Montoya was making his second start of the season because Carey Price had played three games in five days last week, said coach Claude Julien. ... The Canadiens scratched D Joe Morrow and LW Jacob De La Rose. ... The Canadiens next game is Thursday in Minnesota, where they are starting a three-stop road trip.