leafs feb 27The Canadiens came from behind 1-0 to score five of the game’s final six goals en route to a satisfying 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre Wednesday night.   Max Pacioretty scored two goals and his centre David Desharnais had two assists to lead the way for the Habs who notched their tenth win of the season.  Also scoring for Montreal were Alexei Emelin, Brendan Gallagher and Brian Gionta into the empty Toronto net.  Frazer McLaren and Clarke MacArthur for the Leafs who were outshot 40-23.  Carey Price successfully stopped Grabovski on a penalty shot with the Canadiens leadig 2-1 in the second period.

The game’s three stars in Toronto were Pacioretty, Desharnais and Price.

As It Happened –

Two Solitudes – The clear game plan of the Leafs was to try to mess up the Canadiens physically.  In the first 12 minutes of the game the hit count was Toronto-11, Canadiens-1.   Colton Orr, Frazer McLaren and Mike Brown were running around trying to start fights while the Canadiens were winning 90 percent of the puck battles.  The Canadiens led on the shot clock 12-4 at the end of the period.

Getting the Picture – Over their last eight games the Canadiens have outshot their opponents 73-36 in the first period.  Going backward the opponent first period shots totals were 4; 5; 6; 3; 5; 2 and 6.

The Fourth Liners – Toronto got their 1-0 lead thanks to some hard work by Brown, who took out Josh Gorges and then McLaren who took advantage of a Subban misplay to get in on Price.  The Canadiens fourth liners answered three minutes later thanks to Colby Armstrong (who could have been a star in this game).  Armstrong won a tough battle along the boards against Tyler Bozak, drew a delayed penalty in the process before feeding Alexei Emelin who scored on 55 foot slap shot.  1-1 tie.

A Hit Too Far – Referees had seen enough of Mike Brown’s disruptive act and threw him out of the game after he boarded Josh Gorges with thirty-eight seconds remaining in the first.  The Leafs managed to kill all but six seconds of the five minute major but then Subban broke his stick. The puck slid slowly to the net where Ben Scrivens cleared it off the shin guard of Max Pacioretty back into the net.  The Canadiens had their first lead.

Carey’s Night – Thirty minutes into the game the shots on goal were 23-5.  There are been only three faceoffs in the Canadiens zone.  Price’s main job had been retreating behind his net  to stop the puck for his defence.  At 11:45 Alexei Emelin hauled down Mikhail Grabovski.  Referees generously gave Grabovski a penalty shot which Price stopped with ridiculous ease.  But four minute later, Price lost momentary concentration, allowed a puck to pop out of his glove which started the sequence that led to Kadri setting up Clarke MacArthur for the tieing goal on the Leafs 11th shot.

The Game Winner – It came as a result of a faceoff miscue by one of the best specialists in the league.  Tyler Bozak tried to reset himself just as the linesman dropped the puck.  David Desharnais, who beat Bozak four of the six times he went up against him, won this one cleanly back to Gorges who’s shot was tipped in front by Brendan Gallagher.  3-2.

About The Dreaded Faceoff – Not so ‘dreaded’ now.  On February 15th the Canadiens ranked 28th in the league at 45.6%.  Since then they have won the faceoff battle in six of seven games (52.3%) led by Plekanec who has wo 61 of his last 106 faceoffs for 57.1%.

The Shooter – Nothing fluky about Pacioretty’s second goal.  With a little room coming from his off wing he set a rocket over Scrivens shoulder on the short side to clinch it.  If you’re counting, and who in Montreal isn’t, that’s six goals ad four assists the last six games for Pacioretty.  Brian Gionta scored into the empy net and it was over.

The Debut – Michael Ryder played 14:34 mostly unremarkable minutes through 18 shifts mostly with Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.  To be expected since the last time he so much as practiced with the team was the spring of 2008.   He took only one shot and that one was blocked.  He was on the ice for the MacArthur goal that tied the game at 2.   After the game Ryder told reporters,“I just found out when I came to the rink before the game [that I would be playing with those guys (Eller & Galchenyuk), they had the lines on board.  I said just talk to me out there and help me out with the system.”    Ryder will get a chance to figure out Michel Therrien’s way of doing things  during two solid practices before the Canadiens play Pittsburgh Saturday.

Worth Considering – In the nine games since the 6-0 shellacking at the hands of Toronto February 9th, the Canadiens have not lost a game in regulation time (7-0-2).  They have risen from seventh to first in the Eastern Conference three points ahead of the Penguins, who have also played twenty games.   Boston has the same points total as Pittsburgh but they also still carry those four games in hand.  The Canadiens are 5-1-2 on the road; 3-4-2 vs.  Northeast  division rivals but 10-0-1 vs. the other divisions.

It’s Only Just Begun – Up next the Pittsburgh Penguins at home Saturday and on into Boston for Sunday; the beginning of five straight on the road running  from Boston to the Islanders, Carolina, Tampa Bay and finishing with the Sunrise Panthers.