But giving him even more pleasure than his three-goal, two-assist
performance in a 7-4 win over Ottawa that pushed the Senators to the
very edge of elimination from the race for a spot in the postseason
tournament was the way his teammates had each other's back when
things turned rough.
"We definitely felt we owed them a little payback from last year in
the playoffs," said Pacioretty, whose team was bumped from the first
round in five games by the Senators last April. "Our games have been
a bit heated against them. It's not just on the scoreboard it feels
good. I think to see some guys step up and stand up for their
teammates, I think that's one of the more rewarding feelings about
"Myself personally, you make sure you give them a tap on the shin
pads, because that's a brave thing to do."
Defensemen Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver, and centers Lars Eller and
David Desharnais had the other goals for the Canadiens, who improved
to 44-27-7 and tightened their grip on home-ice advantage in the
first round of the playoffs.
Winger Thomas Vanek chipped in with three assists for Montreal,
while goalie Peter Budaj made 39 saves.
Center Zack Smith had two goals for the Senators, while winger Ales
Hemsky and center Mika Zibanejad had the others.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson was left in to finish what he
started, facing 23 shots along the way.
"For the most part, we were in the game the whole time, up until a
couple in the third," said Anderson, who didn't expect to get relief
from coach Paul MacLean. "I thought through two periods we were
right there. We had momentum and we had chances to score. At the end
of the day, we were in the heat of the battle."
Ottawa was actually in control of the battle at the outset, jumping
out a 3-0 lead by the 5:50 mark of the opening period on a pair of
Smith goals sandwiched around Hemsky's third as a Senator. But just
as the Senators blew a three-goal lead in the last 3:22 of a March
15 game between the two teams at Bell Centre, this time they fumbled
away a similar cushion in the final 13 minutes of the first on this
First, Markov bounced a shot in off Anderson from behind the
Senators net, then Weaver scored on what he called a "dump in" from
the point through a screen, and finally Pacioretty netted his first
on a breakaway after the puck had bounced over the stick of Senators
defenseman Eric Gryba's stick.
"They came out really hard and I think we expected it, but I don't
think we were as sharp as we should have been at the beginning,"
said Budaj. "They got a couple of nice goals but the guys
persevered, we battled hard.
"It was big that we were able to tie the game. After not a strong
start, we're starting (the second period) 0-0, basically."
[to top of second column]
Eller put the Canadiens ahead to stay at the 4:09 mark of the
second, although the Senators appeared to tie it up just eight seconds later on
a goal by winger Chris Neil. Officials waved it off, however, ruling that Smith
had made incidental contact with Budaj a moment earlier.
Replays showed that he was bumped by his own defenseman, Francois
Bouillon, and that Smith was not guilty as charged.
"One of the refs said there was contact but I didn't touch the
goalie," said Smith. "I had position going to the net. We disagreed
with the call. He was adamant right from the start there was contact
and there was no discussion. Usually, when that happens, there's
Rather than overcome the adversity, the Senators wilted.
Asked his feelings about his team's performance, MacLean stared
stone faced for a long moment before answering.
"I have none," he said. "I'm numb.
"It's brutal. We're at home. We stopped playing. It's not right."
The Senators left after the game for Saturday's tilt in New York
against the Rangers. The Canadiens host the Detroit Red Wings
NOTES: With a goal in each period for the hat trick, Canadiens W Max
Pacioretty continued on a sizzling pace. He now has eight goals in
his last seven games and 38 on the season. ... Senators C Zack Smith
ended a 10-game slump with his 12th goal of the season at 2:28 of
the first period, then added his 13th three minutes and 22 seconds
later. Smith, who scored his first-ever NHL goal against the Habs,
has seven in 21 career games versus Montreal. ... Canadiens D
Douglas Murray served the first of a three-game suspension for his
hit on Tampa's Mike Kostka. ... Senators C Jason Spezza returned to
the lineup after missing two games with a groin injury. Spezza
entered the night with 29 goals and 62 points in 53 games versus
Montreal. ... Canadiens G Peter Budaj was facing the Senators for
just the second time in his career. He lost and gave up five goals
the last time he was in goal against Ottawa
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