|MTL||1||1||1||(0 - 0)||3|
|OTT||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
OTTAWA - Carey Price made 32 saves for his third shutout and Alex Kovalev scored his 35th goal as the Montreal Canadiens claimed their first division title in 16 years with a 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
Mathieu Dandenault and Andrei Kostitsyn also scored for Montreal, which secured the Northeast Division title with 100 points.
The Canadiens have as many points as Pittsburgh, which leads the Eastern Conference by virtue of its 45 wins, one more than Montreal, which can finish no lower than second in the conference. Both teams have two games remaining.
Ottawa, which also has two games left, remains in sixth place in the East with 92 points, though there is suddenly a very real danger that last year's Stanley Cup finalists could miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
The Senators have a one-point lead over Boston and Philadelphia, who currently hold the final two playoff spots in the conference. Ottawa is also only two points ahead of ninth-place Washington. The Bruins, Flyers and Capitals each have three games left to play.
Martin Gerber made his 15th straight start for the Senators, stopping 24 shots.
Ottawa found itself two men down 7:50 in when Chris Phillips was sent off for cross-checking Sergei Kostitsyn in the right corner just 11 seconds after the Senators were called for too many men.
Kovalev opened the scoring during the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage. The Russian right wing lifted a backhand over Gerber at 9:24 for his team-leading 35th, the most goals by a Canadiens player in 12 years.
Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov got his first career fighting major for his bout with Jason Spezza with 9.8 seconds remaining in the first.
Dandenault made it a 2-0 lead 5:28 into the second when he beat Gerber with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle for his ninth goal.
Kostitsyn sealed Montreal's surprising run to the division title with his 26th goal on a power play 11:22 into the third.
The Canadiens' last first-place finish was in 1991-92, when they led the Adams Division with 93 points in 80 games. The longest Montreal had previously gone between first-place division or league finishes in an NHL regular season was eight years, from 1919-20 to 1926-27, and again from 1947-48 to 1954-55.
Notes: Montreal reached 100 points for the 16th time overall. It is the Canadiens' first 100-point season since 1992-93, when they finished third in their division with 103 points before going on to win their 24th Stanley Cup, their 23rd as a member of the NHL ... Kovalev became Montreal's first 35-goal scorer since 1995-96, when Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse tied for the team lead with 38 each ... With an attendance of 20,326, the Senators recorded their 33rd straight sellout at Scotiabank Place ... The Senators next play Thursday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, before closing out their season Friday at home against the Bruins.
|PPG - Alex Kovalev (35) Backhand shot - ASST: Michael Ryder (17), Patrice Brisebois (8)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Mathieu Dandenault (9) Wrist shot - ASST: Guillaume Latendresse (11), Maxim Lapierre (11)|
2 - 0 MTL
|PPG - Andrei Kostitsyn (26) Wrist shot - ASST: Alex Kovalev (48), Mark Streit (47)|
3 - 0 MTL
|Chris Phillips Cross checking against Tomas Plekanec|
|Sergei Kostitsyn Interference against Anton Volchenkov|
|Chris Neil Too many men/ice - bench|
|Chris Phillips Cross checking against Sergei Kostitsyn|
|Mike Commodore Holding against Guillaume Latendresse|
|Michael Ryder Hooking against Daniel Alfredsson|
|Andrei Markov Fighting (maj) against Jason Spezza|
|Jason Spezza Fighting (maj) against Andrei Markov|
|Brian Lee Hooking against Andrei Kostitsyn|
|Michael Ryder Elbowing against Christoph Schubert|
|Tom Kostopoulos Roughing against Cody Bass|
|Sergei Kostitsyn Roughing against Chris Neil|
|Chris Neil Roughing against Sergei Kostitsyn|
|Chris Neil Roughing against Chris Higgins|
|Chris Higgins Roughing against Chris Neil|
|Josh Gorges Interference against Anton Volchenkov|
|Randy Robitaille Holding against Mark Streit|
|Sergei Kostitsyn Holding the stick against Martin Lapointe|
|Chris Neil Misconduct (10 min)|
|Guillaume Latendresse Tripping against Dany Heatley|
|Mark Streit Hooking against Antoine Vermette|
|SA: 32||TOI: 59:59|
|Saves: 32||EV: 24 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 8|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:34|
|Saves: 24||EV: 15 - 16|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 6|
|SV%: .889||SH: 5 - 5|