Two fluke goals was all it took to beat the Canadiens Wednesday night. The Minnesota Wild edged the Canadiens 2-1 in the second game of what will be a four game midwest road trip for the Habs. Nineteen seconds into the game, Jason Zucker scored off Carey Price’s shoulder and the crossbar to make it 1-0. And in the second period Jason Pominville blindly deflected a high shot while ducking out of the way. The Canadiens only goal came from Alex Galchenyuk with the Canadiens net empty in the final minute. Minnesota outshot the Canadiens 35-19 including 30-10 in the first two periods. The RDS three stars were Pominville, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella.
Adding it Up –
Two Paths – It was an emotional day for the Canadiens traveling party. There were two ways this game was going to go. The Canadiens would come out flying or they would be emotionally spent and stink the joint out. Without qualification and unforgivably, it turned out to be the latter. So much for honouring the Beliveau memory. This was one of the most lopsided 2-1 games you will even encounter. In all of my years around the game, I’ve never been able to figure out why teams as a whole do this to themselves. Common sense tells you it isn’t deliberate but the entire city of Montreal is going to come down on their heads for their lack of effort and emotion in the aftermath of the Beliveau passing. And they earned it. It’s their good fortunre they’re on the road until next week, so they won’t hear it.
Not Helping – The Canadiens weren’t able to get to their second shift of the game before they were in a 1-0 hole. Jason Zucker took what seemed to be a stoppable shot that went off Carey Price’s shoulder, up and off the crossbar and down Price’s back and back into the net. If the Habs had anything in the tank going into the game it was gone. Outshot 16-6 in the first period. Worse in the second – 14-4.
Too Close To Call – The NHL War Room spent a lot time studying Minnesota’s second goal. Was it a high stick or not. Montreal fans would say Jason Pominville’s stick was above the crossbar as ducked out of the way of Christian Folin‘s shot. 2-0. Two strange goals. But no matter, the Canadiens were doing nothing anyway.
After Forty Minutes – Dale Weise led the Canadiens with three shots on goal. The whole Plekanec line attempted one shot on goal and that one missed. Desharnais and Pacioretty had a shot each and rightwinger P.A. Parenteau looked like was playing on another planet. On the entire team, the only sign of life came from the Eller line.
Turning It On – Into the third period and the Canadiens got it going. The first six minutes of the period were spent in the Minnesota end. They outshot the Wild 6-0 and appeared to give Montreal fans another of those comebacks which have been the team’s signature this season.
The Momentum Killer – There are bad penalties and then there was the one Eric Tangradi took when he hit Christian Frolin at 6:10 of the period. The Canadiens were dominating and appeared sure to get back in the game. Tangradi with a clear view of Frolin’s numbers slamed the Wild defenseman face-first into the glass in the offensive zone. For this he got a five minute major and a game misconduct. Not likely to be supplementary discipline but who knows about these things any more.
Shut It Down – Give credit to the penalty killers. Through the five minute advantage Minnesota, who possess the second worst power play in the league, didn’t get a shot on Price. Killing it with still just under nine minutes remaining might have spurred a team with even a tiny bit of emotion and commitment to pick things up again. Didn’t happen.
Mailed It In – At 5:27 of the third Brendan Gallagher recorded his only shot of the game. The Canadiens did not get another shot on goal until David Desharnais at 18.37 with Price out for the extra attacker. That’s 13:10 without even getting close to the Minnesota net. By the way, that was also Desharnais’ first shot of the game. And the Canadiens goal with 58 seconds left came on Alex Galchenyuk’s first shot of the game.
Worth Mentioning – Of the twenty players on the ice, there were 15 passengers. Dale Weise, who wound up being shuffled through three different lines was probably the best forward. Lars Eller at least committed himself physically and Max Pacioretty was good in spurts, especially on the penalty kill. . Throw in maybe Gonchar and Emelin on defense and you’ve pretty taken care of the Canadiens on-ice presence in this train wreck.. Carey Price probably deserved a better fate. It was only 2-0 after two periods on two strange goals with the Habs being outshot 30-10.
From the Room – Max Pacioretty – “There’s no excuse with everything that’s happened in the past day to not show up and give our best from the puck drop.” Head Coach Michel Therrien – “There probably were a lot of distractions before the game….but as far as I’m concerned that’s not an excuse. That should have been more of a source of motivation than a distraction.”
Moving On – So the road trip is even at 1-1-0. The Canadiens have now lost 4 of their last 5 games and they head into back to back games on the weekend starting in Chicago Friday and on to Dallas Saturday. Last time they saw the Blackhawks they were getting hammered 5-0 at the Bell Centre.