MONTREAL (AP) — Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson brushed off a stick battle with Montreal forward Brandon Prust as easily as turned back the Canadiens on Friday night.
“He’s going to the net hard. It’s just a battle of emotions there,” Anderson said. “I’m fighting for my ice. He’s fighting for his ice. I got a little stickwork, but no harm, no foul.”
Anderson made 45 saves and Ottawa avoided elimination with a 5-1 victory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first-round series. Game 6 is Sunday night in Ottawa.
Ottawa coach Dave Cameron wasn’t as kind as Anderson when asked about Prust.
“There’s certainly frustration on their part,” Cameron said. “A sure sign of frustration is when they’re taking cheap shots at your goaltender, who’s a real good player for us.”
With 2:03 left, Prust moved into the crease and brushed against Anderson, who responded with a stick jab in the back. Prust then began spearing the goaltender in the midsection and a skirmish broke out.
Prust was called for roughing and cross-checking and Ottawa’s Patrick Wiercioch got a roughing minor. Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Ottawa’s Eric Gryba got 10 minute misconducts for a lively wrestling match.
“Cheap, extremely cheap,” Cameron said. “Prust, I’ve known for a long time. I think he’s a respectable guy. A real good player for a long time. But that was cheap what he did tonight.”
Prust did not speak to the media after the game and coach Michel Therrien had no comment.
Wiercioch, Bobby Ryan, Erik Karlsson, Erik Condra and Mike Hoffman scored for Ottawa. The Senators are trying to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after trailing 3-0.
“When you’re facing elimination, the pressure’s on you and with each game you win, the pressure’s on them,” Cameron said.
Tom Gilbert had the lone goal for Montreal, and Carey Price stopped 20 shots.
“It’s definitely a bad feeling right now that we weren’t able to win tonight,” Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty said. “But it’s not going to help us to think back on it and be upset about the last two games. We have to worry about the future.”
Anderson has been a wall in goal since he replaced Andrew Hammond for Game 3 — allowing only three goals on 123 shots in three starts. Among his best saves was a stop on a Tomas Plekanec on a short-handed breakaway in the second period and a point-blank stop on Alex Galchenyuk.
“You have to give their goaltender credit,” Subban said. “He made some big saves. We did an OK job of taking his eyes away, but you have to do a great job of that to score in the playoffs, especially against a great goaltender. He’s hot right now. He’s seeing all the pucks and making big saves for them. He’s got the hot hand and he’s riding that.”
Anderson’s play has been reminiscent of 2013 when he backstopped the Senators to an upset of Montreal in the opening round.
“He has a history of being a real good goalie in crucial games in the playoffs,” Cameron said. “I don’t know why anyone’s surprised.”
Montreal’s struggling power play went 0 for 3 to drop to 1 for 19 in the series. Ottawa was 2 for 4.
The Canadiens stormed out and had six early shots, while the Senators didn’t get a shot on Price until the 8:42 mark. But Ottawa scored on its second attempt, when Ryan fired one through Mika Zibanejad’s screen at 9:29.
Wiercioch had time to wait for a screen to form and then picked the top of the net with a shot Price had no way of seeing at 15:39, giving Ottawa the first two-goal lead by any team in the series.
Karlsson scored on a blast from the point on a power play 14:29 into the second to make it 3-0.
The Bell Centre crowd sprang back to life when Gilbert’s shot from against the left boards at the point got through with Dale Weise parked in front of Anderson 1:44 into the third period.
Condra sealed the win, however, when he caused a turnover and went in alone to deke out Price at 14:02. After the late tussle, Hoffman scored on the ensuing power play.
NOTES: Ottawa’s Clarke MacArthur left after the second period with a lower-body injury. .. . The Senators put fourth-liner Alex Chiasson back in after sitting out two games in favor of Chris Neil.
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