Canadiens beat Senators for second time in two nights to stay atop division


The bottom line: Carey Price made 30 saves for his 32nd win of the season — and his eighth in his last nine games — as Montreal completed a weekend sweep of the Ottawa Senators with a 4-1 win Sunday night at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens defeated the Senators 4-3 in a shootout Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre. The win Sunday gave the Canadiens 90 points and a four-point lead over the second-place Senators in the Atlantic Division. Ottawa does have a game in hand, but they face an uphill climb because they play seven of their remaining 10 games on the road. 

Quick start for Montreal: The Canadiens needed only 28 seconds to take a 1-0 lead on Tomas Plekanec’s eighth goal of the season. Andrei Markov’s shot from the point was blocked in front but Plekanec jumped on the loose puck ad beat Craig Anderson. The goal ended a 19-game drought for Plekanec, whose last goal was scored on Jan. 24 vs. Calgary.

Benn giveth and taketh way: The Senators pulled even at 4:36 when former Canadien Tom Pyatt scored from the slot for his seventh goal of the season, Defenceman Jordie Benn attempted to block the shot but instead he deflected the puck high on Price’s blocker side. Benn got the bounce at 17:45 of the first period when he put Montreal back in front with his fourth goal of the season and the second in  the nine games he has played with the Canadiens. Benn’s shot from the right point was deflected by Viktor Stalberg and the result was a knuckleball that eluded Anderson’s glove hand.  

Byron pots 20th: Paul Byron gave the Canadiens some breathing room when he scored his 20th of the season to give Montreal a 3-1 lead at 3:30 of the third period. Brendan Gallagher sent Byron flying down the right side. Plekanec was on the left wing but Byron decided to shoot off the rush and beat Anderson with a low shot. Byron’s previous best total in the NHL was 11 goals last season. Nathan Beaulieu put the finishing touches on the win with a power-play goal at 15:08. Byron thought he had a second goal at 15:14 but Guy Boucher challenged the play and the replay showed the Canadiens were offside. 

No lineup surprises: Price started back-to-back games for only the second time this season and it was to be expected after he as given the start Saturday on the road. Coach Claude Julien did make two changes. He put Alexei Emelin back in the lineup after sitting one game as a healthy scratch. He replaced Brandon Davidson. there was also a change up front as Michael McCarron took Steve Ott’s spot on the fourth line.  

Home sweet home: This was the first of six consecutive home games for the Canadiens. The Detroit Red Wings are at the Bell Centre Tuesday (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, RDS, TSN Radio 690). They will be followed by the Florida Panthers on Thursday while the Senators are back Saturday to face the Canadiens for the third time in eight nights.