Carey Price stopped all 36 shots as the Canadiens blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 Tuesday night at the Bell Centre ending a Canadiens four game losing streak. It was Price’s third shutout of the season. Linemates Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty each recorded a goal and assist. The other goal, the game winner, was scored by Brandon Prust in the first period’s seventh minute. Final shots on goal were 36-30 in favour of the Hurricanes, who came into the game with a four game winning streak. The three stars were Price, Gallagher and defenseman Josh Gorges, who blocked seven Carolina shots in the game.
Adding It Up –
Curb Your Enthusiasm – This was hardly a ‘statement game’. This was Carolina’s fifth game in the last the last seven nights and their second in 24 hours and yet, Carolina nearly doubled the scoring chances on the Canadiens in the first two periods. Shots taken after two periods were 56-34 in favour of the Hurricanes with the Canadien defence blocking 22 of them.
Ottawa Redux – Like his surreal performance against Ottawa twelve nights ago, this was a Carey Price masterpiece. The only thing missing was the drama of the Ottawa game. The Canadiens had the lead for the game’s final 54 minutes. Still, I catalogued ten spectacular saves among his 36 on the night with special mention going to Carolina’s shorthanded breakaway that produced quick shots by Drayson Bowman and then Jordan Staal past the midway point of the first period; a glove save on Alexander Semin in the second period and a breakaway save on Manny Malhotra in the third period. Any of those go in and this night was bound to be different.
The Game Plan – The Canadiens won this game based on their solid forechecking game. There was little doubt that wearing down a weary Carolina defense was going to pay ultimate dividends. The Prust/Bourque/Eller line set the tone in the first seven minutes of the game and it was Prust who opened the scoring after Josh Gorges pinched in to make the play. The second goal was more of the same with Gallagher/Desharnais and Pacioretty all piling into the crease before Gallagher poked it home.
This Was Also Good – Those blocked shots, 27 of them. Twenty-two game in the first two periods when Carolina had some legs in the game. The Canadiens won 56% of the faceoffs with Desharnais winning 13 of 18 and Plekanec 14 of 23. All three of the goals were scored even-strength which, considering the Canadiens have the second worst 5-on-5 goalscoring record in the league, is remarkable.
Not So Good – We should take the wins were we can find them, but the Canadiens were still messy in their own end, which led to Price’s spectacular performance. Still there were good individual performances back there from Gorges, Subban and Murray especially. The problem still seems to the Habs ability to exit the zone cleanly.
Also Worth Mentioning – Some interesting moves from Michel Therrien. He moved Lars Eller back to centre between Prust and Bourque to counteract the size of Eric Staal line and he intentionally added speed to the Plekanec line by moving Bournival up from the fourth line. The result was a shutout game. …..Rene Bourque reacted to all Monday’s trade talk with a pretty good game. ….Brendan Gallagher led his teammates with five shots on goal. Brandon Prust had 4. Alexei Emelin had 4 of the Canadiens 17 hits.
Still In The Woods – One victory doesn’t erase memories of a twenty-one game slump, but it’s a start. Next up are the Bruins in Boston Thursday and then the Saturday afternoon game against Tampa Bay, both teams ahead of the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division standings. We’ll judge the quality of the Canadiens turnaround is after those games.
(more to come)