The Canadiens built a 3-0 lead on the New Jersey Devils mostly on the efforts of their fourth line and then held off a third period comeback attempt to win 4-2 at Newark Friday night. It was the Canadiens fifth win in a row and fourth in during their current five-game holiday road trip. Michael Bournival scored two goals for the Habs including the eventual game winner. They were his first two goals of the season. Also scoring were Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec who scored into the empty net with 27 seconds remaining. Former Canadiens Michael Ryder and Mike Cammalleri scored third period goals for New Jersey. Shots on goal were 26-24 for the Canadiens. The RDS three stars were Bournival, Dale Weise and P.K. Subban.
Adding It Up –
Energy – Three weeks ago the Canadiens fourth line was made up of Manny Malhotra, Dale Weise and Brandon Prust with sometime minor league contributions from Eric Tangradi and Drayson Bowman. A line centred by Malhotra has been on the ice for exactly one goal this season. Then Michael Bournival returned from his concussion and the Canadiens called up Sven Andrighetto . Suddenly Michel Therrien had some offensive fourth line options from his fourth. Even on a team noted for it’s speed, Andrighetto/Weise/Bournival are noticable for their quickness. Bournival with his first two goals of the season. Each member of the line plus-2. And for those who say the line is too small, you’ll have to point out the times they lost a puck battle in this game.
Reliable – Whenever the Canadiens get in trouble, for good reason, Therrien turns to Dale Weise. Weise was full marks for second star status in the game not just because of his contribution to the two Bournival goals but for all of the other things he did in this game. When P.A. Parenteau left the game in the ninth minute of the second period after that hard open ice hit from Tim Sestito, Weise wound up playing on two different lines. Along with Andrighetto he moved up to play on the right side of the line. In the first ten minutes of the third period he logged seven shifts alternating between the Andrighetto and Plekanec units, more often than not, with a 30 second breather between.
Emelin – Canadiens critics are of the opinion that Alexei Emelin’s days with the Habs have to be numbered. Apparently it is not shared by Michel Therrien or the rest of the Canadiens coaching staff. To most eyes, Emelin has been struggling all season. Certainly there wasn’t much to like about his game on this night. Twice during the game he went for the big hit and forced his partner Tom Gilbert to make big plays to break up a 2-on-1. And his mishandling of the puck at the Devils line led to the breakaway goal by Michael Ryder that got the Devils back into the game. Normally that would lead to a seat on the bench but Therrien continued to us him in key third period situations including that critical penalty kill with Alex Galchenyuk in the box in the final five minutes of a 3-2 game. Therrien seems to know something that the rest of us aren’t aware of.
Lost In the Shuffle – Another one of those Carey Price games. His 200th career win his his 400 career game. Not bad at all. Even better, in his last 20 starts he is 14-6. In 14 of thos starts he has allowed two goals or fewer and his save percentage is .940.
Also Worth Mentioning – …..This was a very close game. The Corsi numbers showed shooting attempts at 43-41 in favour of the Canadiens although as seems to be the nightly pattern that gap closes only after the Canadiens have taken the lead and then tend fall back in their defensive posture. ……The Devils hit two crossbars and a post in the game. ……The Canadiens miss Malhotra in the faceoff circle. The finished the game at 52 percent. Plekanec won 14 of 19 for 74%. The rest of the team was sub .500. ……Pacioretty had six shots on goal. His goal was one of those quick wristers that make him one best shooters in the league. ….Plekanec, who doesn’t seem to get a lot of credit these days, had five shots on goal including one on a shorthanded breakaway with Pacioretty. …..Emelin led the game with six hits which, as we’ve mentioned before on this page, can be a good thing and a bad thing. ……Brandon Prust had an outstanding night foring the play at both ends of the ice as part of the Eller/Sekac line.
The Other Shoe Won’t Drop – The experts out there keep waiting for the roof to fall in. And waiting…..And waiting. That’s eight wins the last nine games now. They are first in the Atlantic Division and, if they can somehow beat the Penguins Saturday night in Pittsburgh they would jump over them into first place in the Eastern Conference. There may have been a time this season when the Canadiens were relying on good fortune to win their games. Over the last 25 games it’s been talent and the system.
We Move On – To Pittsburgh for the completion of the ninth set of back-to-back games of the season. And then a tough week ahead at home against first Tampa on Tuesday and then the Penguins again next Saturday night.