Lars Eller broke a 1-1 deadlock with a goal in the final minute of the second period and linemate Jiri Sekac scored what turned out to be the clincher early in the third and the Canadiens skated away with a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday night. It was the Canadiens tenth win in fifteen games this season. Brendan Gallagher opened the game scoring in the second period but Jason Pominville tied it five minutes. Max Pacioretty scored the other goal for the Habs. Shots on goal were 31-31. The three stars were Sekac, Eller and Carey Price.
Adding It Up –
Olé, Olé – With it’s usual perfect timing, the crowd erupted into the victory chant during the Guy Lapointe sweater retirement ceremony. Some tears shed on the ice. More in the crowd and the press box for one of the Canadiens all-time greats.
Bailing Them Out – Another one of those 45 minute hockey games from the Canadiens. But for Carey Price the team could have been down two or three goals by the fifteen minute mark of the first period. Price was particularly brilliant on Jason Pominville in the fourth minute, Justin Fontaine a few seconds later and Marco Scandella at 13:54. And don’t forget the Nino Niederreiter goalpost at 17:33. No score after one, thanks to Price.
Busting Out – In his entire life Brendan Gallagher has never suffered the slump he was in going into the game. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. Nine games without a single point until he rifled a blistering slapshot through the legs of Darcy Kuemper for the game’s first goal.
What’s Different? – Michel Therrien made Jiri Sekac a healthy scratch for seven straight games which unfathomable at the time and even more puzzling now that he’s back. Sekac played the same kind of game he played in the season’s first six games. He was aggressive, quick with the puck and involved in every shift. And he was the game’s first star. He had four shots on goal, all scoring chances. He had a goal and assist. As a line, Sekac, Eller and Prust combined for ten shots on goal. The all had two points. I guess we’ll never know why Therrien decided to sit him out for two weeks.
Comfort Zone – Andrei Markov usually makes his defense partners look better than they are. For whatever reason, Tom Gilbert never looked very comfortable playing with him. Gilbert had a good night playing with Nathan Beaulieu and recognizing that, Therrien was able to roll his three defense pairings. Both Gilbert and Beaulieu got 19 shifts and sixteen minutes of ice time.
Out of Nowhere – It was another one of those nights where you didn’t really notice Max Pacioretty until he scores a goal. He quietly led the Canadiens with five shots on goal. He also scored the goal that put the game completely out of reach for the Wild early in the third period. That’s a team leading six-goals for Pacioretty which leaves him on pace for another 30-plus season.
Also Worth Mentioning – ……Nice balance from the team. Therrien was able to roll his four lines and three defense pairings and his three top lines scored goals. ….On defence, the combination of Weaver and Emelin had some substance. Weaver was plus-3; Emelin plus-2. …….For those who follow the advanced statistics Lars Eller led the puck possession Corsi for% at 66%. Sekac and Prust were second on the team at 62 %. ……Not a great night for P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov. Markov was caught up ice on the Minnesota goal. Subban was charged with 4 giveaways. …..From the scoresheet – Shots – Pacioretty with 5 of the nine he took hit the target. Pacioretty also led with three hits. Markov led with 5 shot blocks. Malhotra won 12 of 19 faceoffs – 63%.
Moving On – Three home games next week; Winnipeg Tuesday, Boston Thursday and Philadelphia on Saturday before the Canadiens play in Detroit Sunday,.