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Senators win fight-filled game

The SportsXchange

OTTAWA -- The price of victory in the first-round playoff series between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens that has reached new levels of nastiness is small, albeit painful.

It's a tooth.

Senators' goalie Craig Anderson had one knocked out by a shot in Game 1, and he went on to star in the 4-2 win. Canadiens goalie Carey Price had two teeth chipped in half by a skate in Game 2, and he shone in a 3-1 victory.

On Sunday at Scotiabank Place, it was rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau's turn.

The 20-year-old Ottawa native had a tooth knocked out by a high stick from Habs' defenseman P.K. Subban while he was scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in front of 20,249 fans who had no idea of what was ahead.

Pageau would add two more goals in a fight-filled third period as the Senators won the game 6-1 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Pageau had just seven goals in 69 games, mostly in a fourth-line role for the Senators' AHL affiliate in Binghamton this season, his first as a pro.

"I only lost one tooth," said Pageau. "I wish I could lose another one if we could win the next game."

Chances are good that somebody is going to take a shot in the mouth when the series resumes Tuesday in Ottawa. A total of nine players were ejected -- five Canadiens and four Senators -- as the teams combined for 236 penalty minutes.

The ugliness started after Kyle Turris scored to put Ottawa ahead 4-1 at the seven-minute mark of the third period. Off the ensuing faceoff, Montreal's Ryan White slashed Zack Smith, prompting Jared Cowen to rush to his fallen teammate's defense. From there, fights broke out all over the ice.

"We didn't start that at all," said Montreal's Rene Bourque. "Maybe a little slash, but nobody expected a line brawl."

Senators coach Paul MacLean described White's swipe as a "vicious two-hander," the likes of which he had not seen in some time.

"We came out ready to play, we came hard, we had great hits," said Senators winger Chris Neil, who was ejected along with Cowen, Matt Kassian and Smith, while Montreal lost White, Francis Bouillon, Travis Moen, Colby Armstrong -- and later Subban -- to game misconducts. "Everyone finishing checks. What it takes to win.

"I saw Smitty lying on the ice. (Cowen) got to him before I did. Emotions were flying high out there. We stood our ground and did what we had to do."

Montreal bench boss Michel Therrien was angered by the time-out called by MacLean in the final minute.

"I always believe in letting the players dictate the game," started Therrien. "Calling a timeout with 17 seconds left in the game, I never saw that before. I mentioned it to the referee and he never saw that before. You never want to humiliate another team as a coach, and this is exactly what happened tonight. As far as I'm concerned, that was classless."

MacLean said he made the move to protect his players when the officials didn't let him make a final change.

"I didn't want anybody to get hurt," he said. "It was already getting dumb enough as it was. I've got two important players on my team I need to play. We're not giving them a freebie. There's already enough of that. So in order to protect my players, under circumstances that were instigated by the Montreal Canadiens, I was forced to protect my players. And I will do that every time."

The "freebie" MacLean referred to that had happened previously was Subban jumping and pummeling Turris, a non-fighter. MacLean also pointed out that a Montreal player (Josh Gorges) shot the puck at Turris when the final buzzer sounded, something he hadn't witnessed before.

"Sometimes cooler heads don't prevail and guys act on emotion," said Gorges, who described the eruption of fights by adding, "There's nothing more to it than guys competing out there."

Also scoring for the Senators were Daniel Alfredsson, who added a pair of assists, Turris and Jakob Silfverberg. Bourque had the lone Montreal goal.

The Habs outshot the Senators 34-30, as Anderson took the spotlight back from Price.

"It's just one of those games we made some mental mistakes, some key mistakes, and then we let them slip away," Gorges said. "We didn't respond the right way. There's no time to lick our wounds. Obviously we're not happy with the outcome tonight. We need to be better."

NOTES: The Canadiens were bolstered by the return of top forwards Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty, both of whom missed Game 2 and were listed as "game time decisions" for Sunday by Therrien. Before leaving Montreal Saturday, the team visited with Lars Eller, who suffered a concussion and multiple facial wounds on the controversial Game 1 hit by Senators rookie Eric Gryba. "Lars looks good," said Therrien, before adding with a chuckle: "He looked better before." ... Even though he had scored one of the three goals by Ottawa forwards in the first two games, Guillaume Latendresse was a healthy scratch for Game 3. MacLean said Latendresse needed to raise his competitiveness level and his physical play, while many understood that to mean MacLean was not happy that he didn't fight back when Ryan White pushed him around at the buzzer to end Game 2. Taking Latendresse's spot was Cory Conacher, who was a healthy scratch in Game 2. The only other Ottawa change was on defense, where rookie Patrick Wiercioch replaced Andre Benoit ... Interesting numbers heading into Sunday: the Senators and won only one of their previous nine home playoff games, while the Canadiens had one only one of their previous nine Game 3s.
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