MONTREAL -- Backup goalkeeper David Tenney hadn't been written into the Blast starting lineup in two months. After yesterday's performance, it's unlikely it will take him that long to get another chance.
Given the rare start, he stepped front and center to lead the Blast to a rousing 16-9 win over the Montreal Impact before 2,819 at Le Centre Claude Robillard.
With workhorse goalie Scott Hileman getting a rare day off, Tenney made 19 saves, many of them of the eye-popping variety, in support of a strong overall effort by the Blast in a battle of division leaders.
The Blast has now taken five of six encounters with Montreal, which sits atop the Central Division with a one-game lead over Cleveland.
Even though the Blast never trailed, and despite the bulging margin of victory, this win was hardly a romp.
It wasn't until Danny Kelly's three-point power-play goal with 5: 21 to play that the Blast could breathe easily.
"It was a great win for us," Kelly said. "We knew we had to play hard and play well. It was a challenge and the team responded to it."
Tenney was put on the spot almost immediately by the Impact's top point-getter, Giuliano Oliviero, whose low 20-foot rocket Tenney dipped low on to parry away with his fingertips.
That save appeared to give a huge lift to a Blast team that was playing its third game in as many days.
"The team has confidence in Dave," Kelly said. "He's a quality goaltender."
Instead, the Blast shifted into high gear and quickly piled up a 6-0 lead on goals by Paul Wright, Tarik Walker and Derek Marcano.
Wright's goal came on at 5: 01 on a free kick, which came about after Impact defender Amin Mohamed Benhachem was called for a dangerous kick.
Marcano may have been cheated out of a point when his bomb was credited as a two-pointer, although it clearly appeared that he was standing outside the arc.
The Blast eventually took a 9-2 lead into the intermission. What it had to guard against -- a letdown -- came to pass.
Montreal caught the Blast defense sitting back, and exploited it for five quick points, cutting the lead to 9-7.
"We talked about that at halftime," Kelly said. "It's what we didn't want to do, let them back in the game. But that's exactly what happened."
Tenney preserved the lead with a minute left in the period by making a huge stop on Mauro Biello, who had the whole net to himself. Tenney came from nowhere to squeeze the shot between his legs.
"Actually I saved it with my butt," he said. "I tried to get something in the way, and it turned out to be my knees and legs."
That set the stage for the Blast's finishing burst, which was ignited after Montreal's Nick DeSantis was sent off for boarding Walker.
Denison Cabral polished off the shootout try to make it 10-7. Then after goalie Paolo Ceccarelli slapped away a shot by Barry Stitz, Kelly picked up the rebound outside the arc and threaded it into the upper left corner.
"They [the Impact] were sitting back a little," Kelly said, "and if they are going to give me a shot, I'm going to take it. He's a good goaltender, so you've got to put it in a good spot for him to miss it."
Blast 6 3 0 7 -- 16
Montreal 2 0 5 2 -- 9
First period: 1. Blast, Wright 2-pt (unassisted) 7: 46; 2. Blast, Walker 2-pt (Kelly) 12: 19; 3. Blast, Marcano 2-pt (Simmons) 12: 34; 4. Montreal, Biello 2-pt (Oliviero) 13: 31. Penalties--None.
Second period: 5. Blast, Cabral 1-pt (shootout) 3: 44; 6. Blast, Cabral 2-pt (Dieter) 10: 45. Penalties--Montreal, DeSantis (boarding) 3: 44; Blast, Johnson (tripping) 13: 43.
Third period: 7. Montreal, Biello 3-pt (DeSantis) : 36; 8. Montreal, Selaidopoulos 2-pt (Stathopoulos) 3: 54. Penalties--None.
Fourth period: 9. Blast, Cabral 1-pt (shootout) 8: 06; 10. Blast, Kelly 3-pt (Stitz) 9: 39; 11. Montreal, Pizzolitto (DeSantis) 12: 09; 12. Blast, Wright 3-pt (unassisted) 14: 04. Penalties--Montreal, Pizzolitto (boarding) 8: 06.
Total shots: Blast 37, Montreal 37. Goalies: Blast, Tenney (19 saves); Mon, Ceccarelli (17 saves). Att.: 2,819.