James van Riemsdyk broke a 3-3 tie with just over five minutes remaining and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 5-3 Saturday night in Toronto. Also scoring for Toronto were Cody Franson, Phil Kessel, Mason Raymond and Joffrey Lupul. The Lupul goal was awarded after he hauled down going for the empty net. Brendan Gallagher, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais scored for the Canadiens. Shots on goal were 33-29 in favour of the Canadiens. The three stars were all from Toronto; Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
Adding It Up –
The Beat Goes On – With this loss, the Canadiens are guranteed of going at least a month without putting together back to back wins. They’ve now played ten without putting up two in a row. Since December 10th when Los Angeles beat them 6-0 the Canadiens are an erratic 8-8-2.
Familiar Sight – For the first six minutes we had an extension of the dreadful first two periods the Canadiens put in at Ottawa Thursday. Dominated both physically and technically and the Leafs rewarded themselves with a goal from Cody Franson.
Turning Point – The game seemed to turn on a sequence involving P.K. Subban and the Leafs Jay McClement. Subban could be criticized for abandoning defense to go after McClement which handed Toronto a scoring chance, but the end result was a turnabout in the tenor of the game. From that point on, this was an evenly contested game.
Two Cities – If Toronto ever manages to fix up their defence they will be a force in the Eastern conference. The first four goals were the result of slick playmaking on the part of Kadri, Tyler Bozak and Mason Raymond. The Canadiens on the other hand continue to have to grind out their goals.
Missing Links – Two key members of the Canadiens defense, Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges had difficult nights. Emelin really had rough time. He was undressed by Kadri on the opening goal and was caught up ice on the game winner by van Riemsdyk. Minus-2 for the game. In his 13 games since mid December, Emelin is minus-11.
Up from the Farm – Centre Joonas Nattinen and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu were recalled from Hamilton Friday and were in the lineup. Michel Therrien immediately lost confidence in the clearly nervous Nattinen and benched him after two shifts. Beaulieu looked much better, although there are still some issues about the way he operates in his own zone that need to be addressed. Beaulieu logged 19 shifts and 13:36 which is more than anyone expected. Immediately following the game, the two were sent back to Hamilton.
Worth Mentioning ……Another excellent effort from Brendan Gallagher who seems to be shaking off his December slump. The first Canadiens goal was all Gallagher. He drew the penalty that put the Canadiens on the power play and then in his usual spot at the crease he capitalized on the power play. …..Nothing Carey Price could do about the Leafs four goals, all of which came off glaring defensive errors……….The way the coach feels about the current state of his defence can be summed up in ice time. Subban 30:33, Markov 27:50. After that, the struggling Josh Gorges at 19:50. …..For a team that has always had issues when it comes to goalscoring, holding down an opponent is an absolute must. Over the last ten games the Canadiens have given up four goals or more seven times. Considering the lack of ready talent in Hamilton, there’s not much Marc Bergevin can do about his offense but there is some near-ready talent on defense. Might be time to shake things up.
Moving On – The Canadiens returned home after the game. They’ll practice Monday and Tuesday at Brossard and then fly on to Pittsburgh where they will play the third game of the four game road trip on Wednesday. Then on to Detroit for Friday.