The Canadiens roared back from a 1-0 deficit with four straight goals en route to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues Thursday night at the Bell Centre. It was the Canadiens seventh win the last eight games and keeps them atop the NHL standings.
Max Pacioretty scored twice including the winning goal in the second period. Dale Weise and Lars Eller also scored for Montreal. The lone St. Louis goal was scored by Vladimir Tarasenko. Shots on goal in the game were 32-30 in favour of the Blues. The three stars were Pacioretty, Carey Price and Sergei Gonchar.
Adding It Up –
The Difference – The Canadiens once again gave up the game’s first goal and once again trailed at the end of the first period. But unlike the majority of their starts this season, and especially their game Tuesday against Pittsburgh, the Habs were in this game right from the opening face off. The St. Louis opening goal was a brilliant piece of eye-hand co-ordination from Vladimir Tarasenko, one of the game’s bright young stars.
Cool Hand Dale – I’ve seen some giveaways in my years covering hockey on every level. Can’t remember one quite like the one that created the Canadiens first goal. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk picked up the puck behind the Blues net and had an entire ice surface in which to clear the puck with Dale Weise standing in front. He tried to send it up the middle. Weise knocked it down and then calmly waited for Blues goaltender Jake Allen to go down before shooting it into the top of the net. Tie game.
No Fooling Around – Max Pacioretty has been accused of trying to get a little too cute around the net. Not on this night. He took a stretch pass from P.A. Parenteau at the Blues line and on the break, quickly pulled the trigger from 20 feet to tie the game. In the third period it was more of the same. David Desharnais passing it ahead and Pacioretty with another quick shot. 3-1. Ten goals in 21 games. Dare we think 50?
Game Changer – Carey Price made many important saves in this game. The two that stood out for me came with the score 2-1 in the 5th minute of the third. In the span of 47 seconds Price made brilliant saves on first Maxim Lapierre and then Jori Lehtera. Just over a minute later Pacioretty scored his second goal and it was 3-1.
Still Dreadful – The addition of Sergei Gonchar was supposed to energize the power play. And it did for two whole games. And then….zilch. In the four games since their 3-for-3 night against the Flyers they are 0-for-9. In this game, against the 20th ranked penalty killing team in the league they had 4 minutes of power play time in which they were outshot 2-0 by St. Louis. Not Gonchar’s fault. The problem seems to be the inability of the Canadiens to control the puck down low and set the power play up.
Unethical – Criticizing officiating is a useless exercise. It is what it is and always will be. However, something has to be said about the blind eye being turned on the near mugging Brendan Gallagher takes every night. Gallagher always pushes the envelope, which is fine. Call him for it. But opponents now know that they can do anything they want against Gallagher and get away with it and that is dishonest. Paul Devorsky is one of the league’s senior officials and should know better.
Also Worth Mentioning – ….No passengers in this game, so singling out individuals is difficult. …..I thought the defense pairing of Alexei Emelin and Sergei Gonchar had a particularly good night. Emelin led the Canadiens with six hits and Gonchar’s support and puck handling got him the game’s third star. ….Pacioretty led with five shots on goal. …..Manny Malhotra won only 5 of 11 faceoffs over the first two periods and then in the third period was asked to take every important one and won 7 of 9. ….The best line on the ice according to the Corsi possession numbers was Desharnais-59%/Pacioretty-58%/Parenteau-62%. O
Moving On – The Canadiens will practice Friday morning and then charter to Boston to start their two game road weekend against the Bruins Saturday night. Newcomer Bryan Allen will join the team in Boston. We’re told he’ll wear number 6. The Canadiens will play their third game in four nights against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Sunday night.