Mar 23, 2012; Montreal, QC, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Erik Cole (72) waits for the ice crew to clean up the caps thrown on the ice after he scored his 3rd goal of the period during the 1st period of the game against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-US PRESSWIRE

Cole Leads Canadiens To Easy Win Over Senators

Well, the Canadiens have continued their mastery over the Ottawa Senators in a 5-1 rout at the Bell Centre, having gone 4-0-2 on the season against their division rivals. The points were fairly critical for Ottawa, who now has watched their lead dwindle to only 2 points over the 8th place Capitals and 9th place Sabres with 7 games to play. The Senators have now lost 3 in a row and will look to right the ship against a rolling Pittsburgh squad tonight.

The Canadiens won this game courtesy of the Erik Cole blitzkreig put on in the first 5 minutes of the game. The first 5:41 specifically. Erik Cole would score his 28th and 29th goals of the season on Craig Anderson, who was returning from a tendon injury, and his 30th on Ben Bishop. This was actually the fastest hat-trick from the start of a game in Canadiens history, and the first Canadiens first period hat trick since 1993. In addition, 30 goals equals career high for Erik Cole who has a great individual season for a floundering Canadiens team, with his only other 30 goals season coming with the Hurricanes in 2005-2006.

Petteri Nokelainen (his 3rd of the year) and Lars Eller (his 16th of the season) would add the other 2 goals for the Canadiens. Price made 37 stops on 39 shots, with several of the jaw-dropping variety. He only let in a quick goal from Jason Spezza, his 30th, with 13 seconds left in the first period. Another goal, by Daniel Alfredsson, was refused because it was deflected in with a high stick.

The Canadiens played well in most facets of the game, and particularly in the physical department. In a game marked with scrums and face washes, the Canadiens kept up and were not pushed around whatsoever. There were quite a few misconducts handed out, with some going to P.K Subban, Nick Foligno, Chris Neil (2x), Zenon Konopka, Jared Cowen, Lars Eller, Zack Smith and Rene Bourque. Fighting majors went to Ryan White and Brad Staubitz for the Canadiens, with a myriad of other post-scrum penalties occurring. Perhaps this was a normal result of playing the Sens so often in a 3 week span, but some would argue that it is instead the Staubitz effect.

Regardless, Montreal obviously remains in 15th place with the win, tied with the Islanders for 14th. The Senators remain in 7th rather precariously. Tonight, the Canadiens face the Flyers, who are in 5th place, who are looking to clinch a playoff spot.

The puck drops at 7:00pm.

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