This was a case of self-destruction. The Canadiens started picking up penalties in the second minute of the game and didn’t stop. By the midway point of the game the Rangers had their power play on the ice eight times to none for the Canadiens. In the end they played shorthanded more than one quarter of the game (sixteen minutes) and the constant use of special teams prevented the Canadiens from getting into any kind of playing rhythm.
Their Own Worst Enemy – Michael Blunden came off the bench on a shift change and immediately hammered Brandon Dubinsky with a clean check. That started two fights: Blunden vs. Callahan and Nokelainen vs. Sauer. The Canadiens got the short end. Blunden jumped early so there were too many men on the ice and the hit on Dubinsky was ruled interference which was clearly an invention since Dubinsky had the puck at the time and the check was clean. And when did they change the instigator rule? Callahan started the fight. Didn’t anybody notice? So the referees saw it as two penalties involving Blunden. But the too many men on the ice penalty is charged to the bench and not Blunden. Therefore rather than serving consecutive minors, the Canadiens wound up two men short. Not refereeing’s finest hour. Nokelainen and Sauer were given game misconducts. (Video of the incident embedded below)
The Up Side – That said, the Canadiens made the night interesting when they could have packed it in. After the 5-on-3 goal opened the game’s scoring the Canadiens killed the next eight Ranger advantages. Twice they made it a one-goal game and the Rangers fifth goal came into an empty net.
The Unit – Up front penalty killing duties were divided between Plekanec and Moen in one main unit and Cammalleri and Eller on the other. Gionta was used periodically with either Darche or Moen. On defence more than half of the penalties were killed by Gorges and Gill with Spacek paired variously with Weber, Subban and Diaz for the other minutes.
Hard Day’s Night – Only defensemen Josh Gorges and Hal Gill logged more ice time than Tomas Plekanec’ 22:54. His night included 5:15 of penalty killing time and 1:40 on the power play.
Making A Game Of It – Max Pacioretty scored 24 seconds into the second period and led a comeback attempt with five shots on goal in the second period. The Rangers got their first two penalties of the game in the 11th minute and Andrei Kostitsyn scored to make it 3-2 but Brad Richards scored late in the period to restore the two goal lead and a shutdown third period allowed the Rangers to win the game despite Brian Gionta’s goal with less than two minutes left.
Carey’s Night – Four goals against, three of them in a first period in which the Rangers outshot the Canadiens 16-3. Not much chance on any of them. In the second and third his work allowed the Canadiens to mount at least a bit of a comeback.
Gamechangers – The Canadiens hit three posts in the game. Cammalleri with the score 1-0 in the first period. Cole with the score 3-2 in the second. Cammalleri again with 13 seconds left in the second.
Gassed – The rust of six days off showed up in the third period of the game when the Rangers completely shut the door until the late deflected goal by Gionta.
The Horse – While energy level was fading on the Canadiens bench in the third period, Erik Cole cranked up his game. In the final twenty minutes he posted all four of his shots on goal and every one of them was a solid scoring chance. Cole also led both teams with six hits and one takeaway.
Off the Stat Sheet – Shots on Goal – Pacioretty -7, Cole-4. Hits – Cole – 6; Eller-4. Blocked Shots – Gill-3. Faceoffs – Desharnais 67% (6 of 9)
Next Week – Home against Edmonton Tuesday followed by games in Phoenix and Nashville Thursday and Saturday.
Video – Michael Blunden vs. Ryan Callahan