OTTAWA, Ontario — Guy Boucher trusted his instincts when selecting skaters for the shootout and it paid off for the Ottawa Senators.
The Senators’ head coach opted to go with defenseman Erik Karlsson and the captain scored the game winner to give Ottawa a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night to open the season with back-to-back wins.
“Sometimes it’s just small things and you follow a gut feeling,” Boucher said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you look like a genius and sometimes you look like an idiot, this time I look like a genius.”
Despite some struggles through its first two games Ottawa is finding ways to win. The Senators had a great start on Saturday, struggled midway, but came back strong and feel they can build off the effort.
“I think it was a well-played game by both teams,” Karlsson said. “We did what we had to do even though they scored two in the third. It didn’t set us back. We kept going and stuck to our game plan and we didn’t let ourselves stray away from what we felt we had to do to have a chance to win this game.”
Tom Pyatt, Ryan Dzingel and Zack Smith scored for the Senators (2-0-0) in regulation and Craig Anderson had 21 saves.
Jeff Petry scored twice and Artturi Lehkonen got his first NHL goal for the Canadiens. Al Montoya stopped 35 shots.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien was pleased with the overall effort, but falling behind early made things difficult.
“Our execution wasn’t there at the start of the game,” said Therrien. “We made some adjustments in the second and it seemed to pay off.”
Pyatt tied the score 3-3 off a great pass from Dzingel to beat Montoya stick side with 2:33 remaining in the third period.
Dzingel was impressive all night and was rewarded for his efforts, getting ice time in the overtime session.
“I think I’m getting a little bit more confident and coach is playing me in bigger situations so just trying to grow my confidence and keep playing the way I do,” Dzingel said. “I’m bringing pace and speed and that’s all I’m worrying about.”
Dzingel and Smith scored in the first period to put the Senators up 2-0 as they outshot the Canadiens 13-6 and had some solid work on the penalty kill.
Dzingel opened the scoring at the 6-minute mark with a great personal effort as he picked up his own rebound and beat Montoya short side. Dennis Wideman’s point shot deflected in off Smith’s skate with 4:10 left in the period.
Petry’s power-play goal with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the second got the Canadiens on the scoreboard. Lehkonen tied it at 2:50 of the third, grabbing a loose puck and sliding it through Anderson’s legs.
Ottawa couldn’t capitalize on a two-man advantage for 1:49 as they failed to create any real scoring chances and the game stayed tied.
“That 5-on-3 kill gave us a lot of strength,” Lehkonen said. “We found a way in the third period to bounce back and really fight for the win.”
Petry’s second then put Montreal at the 9-minute mark as his shot from inside the blue line beat a screened Anderson.
NOTES: D Thomas Chabot and LW Matt Puempel were healthy scratches for the Senators for the second straight game. … Montreal D Zach Redmond, D Mikhail Sergachev and C Brian Flynn were all a healthy scratch.
Canadiens: Host defending champion Pittsburh in their home opener Tuesday night.
Senators: At Detroit on Monday night.