Paul Byron (L) recorded a goal and an assist for Montreal as the Canadiens recording a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night at the Bell Centre. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
MONTREAL -- Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin went for grit over goals at the trade deadline, trusting Montreal's secondary scoring to eventually return.
It has, ultimately propelling the Canadiens to a 4-1 over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night at the Bell Centre.
Paul Byron and Nathan Beaulieu both recorded a goal and an assist while Tomas Plekanec and Jordie Benn also scored for Montreal, which is now 9-2-0 under coach Claude Julien.
"We had a lot of confidence in our team, especially post-deadline," said Byron, who hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. "We weren't scoring but we knew that we were capable of it and it was just a matter of getting back on track and getting back to the offensive capability that we were able to play to. To have that scoring like we did earlier in the year, it's huge for us.
With the win, the Canadiens (41-23-8) swept the back-to-back set against their division rival and moved four points ahead of the Senators in the race for the Atlantic Division crown.
"We did a good job these past two games," Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said. "We played hard, we knew the intensity was going to be high, the compete level was going to be high. We were up for the challenge. It's exciting as a group to see that but obviously we haven't accomplished anything yet. There's still a lot of time here for us to continue to build. Hopefully this is just another step in the right direction."
Tom Pyatt scored for Ottawa, which has dropped four straight for the first time this season.
"We've been really consistent all year and this is the first time we've been facing some adversity," Senators captain Erik Karlsson said. "We haven't really found ways to win games when we aren't feeling our best and we have to learn how to deal with that. It's coming at a good time, we've got tough games coming up, great opponents ahead of us. We've got to keep moving forward and build on what we had success with in the past."
Carey Price made 30 saves for the Canadiens while Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots for the Senators (39-24-8).
The Canadiens got off to a quick start in this one courtesy of a player who badly needed a goal. Plekanec, who has struggled to put up points this season, notched his first goal since Jan. 24 when he backhanded the rebound of Andrei Markov's point shot into an open side of the cage just 28 seconds into the contest.
Montreal kept up the pressure, immediately drawing a penalty following the goal and outshooting Ottawa 7-1 through the first 3 1/2 minutes of the game.
But the Senators finally found the offensive zone shortly thereafter. Pyatt, in the slot, picked up the loose puck off a Mike Hoffman shot and tossed it on net, hitting Benn's stick and deflecting past Price at 4:36.
Benn restored the Canadiens' lead late in the period when his blast from the point hit Viktor Stalberg and floated past a screened Anderson at 17:45.
Montreal continued its domination in the middle frame, outshooting the Senators 16-7, but couldn't add to its lead. And while rarely tested, Price kept his team ahead with an impressive tip-of-the-pad save on Kyle Turris.
"That's just fun to watch," Benn said of his goaltender's heroics. "I came in (to the locker room) after and I said if I did that I'd blow my hamstrings off. He's an amazing goalie. He's there to save us, so he's always playing well."
Byron connected for the sixth time in the last eight games to put the Canadiens up by a pair at 3:30 of the third period when he snapped home a shot from the right circle on a 2-on-1.
"I don't know if it's deflating but it doesn't help us get more enthusiasm because that's a miraculous save," Senators coach Guy Boucher said of Price's stop on Turris. "The minute they score that (third) one, it's a big difference. It's 3-1 versus 2-2. Usually when we're down by two goals, we're pretty good at keeping our minds in it but today you could feel the mountain was too big to climb."
Beaulieu made it 4-1 with a point shot that beat a screened Anderson five-hole.
Byron thought he had his second of the night a mere six seconds later but the goal was overturned after the Senators challenged for offside.
-- Montreal C Torrey Mitchell played in his 600th NHL game.
-- C Tomas Plekanec appeared in his 912th NHL game, all with Montreal, moving into a tie with Guy Carbonneau for 11th place on the franchise's all-time list.
-- The Senators iced the same line-up as Saturday night, leaving C Chris DiDomenico, D Jyrki Jokipakka and D Fredrik Claesson as the healthy scratches.
-- Montreal made two changes to its lineup, with RW Michael McCarron drawing in for C Steve Ott while D Alexei Emelin returned after sitting as a healthy scratch, replacing D Brandon Davidson.