David Desharnais scored to tie the game with 37 seconds remaining in regulation time only 27 seconds after the New Jersey Devils had taken a 3-2 lead and then Desharnais scored the winning goal of the shootout as the Canadiens took a 4-3 victory in Newark Wednesday night. The victory competed a home-and-home sweep of the Devils and gave the Canadiens 15 of a possible 16 points their last eight games. It also set the stage for Thursday night’s first meeting of the season against Boston. The Canadiens trail the Bruins by one point in the Atlantic Division standings.
A close hockey game broke loose in the final 3:50 of regulation time when Lars Eller scored to tie the game at 2-2. But Patrick Elias tied the game at 18:54 setting the stage for Desharnais’ tieing goal at 19:22. Also scoring for the Canadiens was Brian Gionta back in the first period. Andrei Loktionov scored the other Devils goal. Shots on goal were 34-30 in favour of New Jersey.
Adding It Up –
Off the Rails – A hard fought goaltender’s battle between Peter Budaj and Cory Schneider fell apart when the teams combined for three goals in the final 3:50 of regulation time. Michael Ryder had scored to break a 1-1 tie at 9:50 to set the stage for the big finish.
Timely – Lars Eller hadn’t scored in eight games when he found the puck on his stick off an aborted wraparound attempt by Alex Galchenyuk. His own rebound went in to tie the game 16:10, 2-2 tie.
Oops! – P.K. Subban hasn’t made many mistakes recently. This one was big. With just over a minute remaining under forechecking pressure Travis Zajac, the puck floated off Subban’s stick right to Patrick Elias who rifled it past Budaj. 3-2 for the Devils.
High Drama – Time for one last rush. Peter Budaj reached the Canadiens bench for the extra attacker with 40 seconds left. The extra attacker was Brian Gionta who arrived at the Devils blueline just as Subban who was in deep forechecking. Subban forced a bad clear right onto Gionta’s stick who leaned into the shot. Desharnais in front deflected it down and in and created the overtime.
Got the Message – For some reason, Michel Therrien left David Desharnais off his list this season’s first two shootouts, both of them losses. Figuratively throwing up his hands, he made him the second shooter in Columbus and he won the game for him. Then Desharnais scored in a shootout in Washington. Against the Devils, he calmly slid the puck through Schneider to break a 1-1 tie for the game winner. That’s goals in three straight shootouts, two of the goals were game winners and his career mark is now 11 for 21.
Hard Out of the Gate – Another shutout first period for the Canadiens. The Canadiens’ forecheck wouldn’t let the Devils get their game in gear. Over their last nine games the Canadiens have outscored their opponents 9-1 in the first period, the lone goal by Alex Ovechkin on a power play with 23 seconds left.
It Had Eyes – The first goal of the game came when Daniel Briere threaded the puck through four sticks to Brian Gionta at the goalmouth. The first three sticks were defenders and the fourth was Plekanec who alertly let the puck go through to Gionta.
The Backup – There are some out there who are still not sold on Peter Budaj. Don’t include me in that group. He may have given up a season high 3 goals but he was facing a team that had the pedal to the floor through the final two periods and the overtime of the game. Hard to disparage a 5-1-1 record, especially when you factor in the fact that all seven of those games have been on the road.
Also Noteworthy – …..Another strong night from the Desharnais line, which over the last two weeks in the NHL’s hottest. Eleven shots on goal in this game. Desharnais now has nine points his last eight games. ……. Even with the goal, the body of work from the Eller line was not a very good one. Their play in their own end left a lot to be desired even with Brandon Prust on left wing. Eller and Galchenyuk looked better when Briere and Bournival were spotted on the left side in the third period. Bournival drew the second assist on Eller’s goal……. The three goals by the Devils ended the Canadiens streak of 11 straight games in which it allowed two goals or fewer.
What Else is New? The Boston Bruins come to town at a key time in the schedule as usual. The Canadiens have moved to within a point of Boston in the Atlantic Division standings. The Canadiens are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games; 9-1-2 over the last 12. The Bruins are 6-1-1 over their last eight. They also hold two games in hand over the Canadiens.
Looking Ahead – After Thursday’s Bruins game at the Bell Centre the Canadiens finish up with gruelling 7 games in 11 nights stretch of the schedule with a game Saturday night at home. After Buffalo the team will get it’s first two day break in almost two weeks. Through the first 5 games of the current grind the Canadiens are 4-0-1.