It was the Canadiens fifth loss over the last six games.  Four of the five losses have come in either overtime or the shootout.  Among the teams in the running for a lottery pick in the June entry draft, the Canadiens pick up a loser’s point; Carolina shutout out Toronto 3-0; the Islanders upset the Penguins 5-3 in Pittsburgh Boston beat Tampa Bay 5-3 and Minnesota lost 3-2 to the Rangers.   All of that leaves the Canadiens in 28th place in a points tie with Minnesota, one point ahead of the Oilers who have a game in hand.  All of this is important at this stage of a season-long disaster.  (You can see the Draft Lottery Shakedown below)

Adding It Up –

…..The Blog’s First Star – Max Pacioretty was all of the Panthers net and goaltender Scott Clemmensen.  A total of nine shots on goal of twelve he attempted in the game.  There were six scoring chances and Erik Cole scored off one of Pacioretty’s rebounds for the first goal of the game.

…..Credit Due –  Say this much for the Canadiens.  They not going away on their opposition.  They’ve forced their opponents into overtime in five of their last eight games.   This was another example.  The Panthers had a lot riding on this game with the Southeast Division lead on the line and the possibility of falling right out of playoff contention if Washington were to overhaul them.  The Canadiens made them earn their two points and with Washington’s loss in Buffalo, they’re now five points ahead in their division. room

….Getting His Opportunity – Louis Leblanc has been playing with Ryan White and Michael Blunden, which is not an opportunity to show off the skills that made him the Canadiens first round draft pick three years ago.  In this game, he got his chance.  Playing alongside second line centre Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque Leblanc scored a dandy breakaway goal, had three shots (two more, by the way, than the leftwinger on the line, Rene Bourque), and got a career high17:20 ice time.   He had been averaging ten minutes.    He still needs get bigger and stronger, but the skills are there and fans have reason to be optimistic.

…..The Future – I think it’s safe to say, after a long haul from Canadian college hockey at Trois Rivieres through the ECHL to Hamilton and then to the Canadiens that Frederic St. Denis is ready to play in the NHL   He had another good night playing alongside Chris Campoli.   There’s something to be said for a lot of minor league experience.   He has the confiidence to know when to go on the attack and when to sit back.  His breakaway pass to Leblanc was an example of his smarts.

…..Also Worth Noting – ……We’re never going to get a lot of goals out of him, but Michael Blunden continues to a lot of good things in his role as a fourth line winger.  But then, I’ve been saying that since he led all members of the team in hits during training camp.  ….Another big game from Carey Price.  Nothing new there.  During a second period in which the Canadiens were outshot 13-4 Price stopped Wojtek Wolski’s breakaway and Jerrod Smithson’s point blank backhand.  He was also outstanding on Scotty Upshall on a shot off the back boards in the first period.   …….Andrei Markov is still a work in progress.  18:40 ice time.  Minus-2.  Caught up ice on the Wolski goal.  But it’s the old Markov on the power play.  We have to be patient.   ……I hope we’ve seen the last of Lars Eller as a right winger.  Things are much more eventful at both ends of the ice when he’s at centre.  …….By the way, the Max Pacioretty did have some help on the Canadiens top line.  All tolled the line had, by my count, fourteen chances to score.  Cole had five and Desharnais had three to go with Pacioretty’s six.

……Up Ahead – Only five games remaining, three of them on the road.  The Canadiens practice tomorrow and Thursday in Brossard and then head for Madison Square Garden Friday night and Washington Saturday.   They’ re home to Tampa Bay next Wednesday; at Carolina Thursday and the season finale against Toronto on Saturday.  Who knows, that game against the Leafs may decide a very high draft pick for either team.

The Draft Lottery Race – Overall Standings Updated

22nd – Tampa Bay            77 pts.  6 games remaining

23rd – Carolina                  77 pts.  5 games remaining

24th – Anaheim                 75  pts. 6 remaining

25th – NY Islanders          75 pts.  6 remaining

26th –  Toronto                   75 pts. 5 remaining

27th – Minnesota               72 pts. 6 remaining

28th – Canadiens               72 pts.  5 remaining

29th – Edmonton               71 pts.  6 remaining

30th – Columbus                55 pts.  6 remaining