The Canadiens roared back from a 2-0 third period deficit with 3 power play goals to edge the Blue Jackets 3-2 Wednesday night in Columbus. Max Pacioretty scored two of the power play goals including the game winner and his 20th of the season. P.K. Subban added the other. The Blue Jackets Kevin Connauton gave Columbus a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game early in the first period. Ryan Johansen made it 2-0 on a power play midway through the third period setting up the Canadiens comeback. The three power play goals came in a span of 3:53. Shots on goal were 31-16 in the Canadiens favour. The RDS three stars were Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher.
Adding It Up –
One for the Coach – Part of Michel Therrien’s lineup tinkering was to move Tomas Plekanec up with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. That part of the tinkering worked. Through the first two periods the line had 16 shots on goal. At the end of the night the Plekanec line had 18 of the Canadiens 31 shots and two of the three goals. And they were a millimetre away from a first period goal from Gallagher, which was taken away after a long video review. Add to all of that, Plekanec also won 64% of the faceoffs (16 of 25).
Hopeless – The only way to describe the Canadiens new look power play through the first two periods. With P.A. Parenteau replacing Andrei Markov next to P.K. Subban at the point the Canadiens managed one shot through four advantages and six minutes of power play time. The lone shot came from Plekanec.
Brain Dead – All the Blue Jackets had to do through the final ten minutes of this game was keep their stick on the ice. Three successive penalties in a span of 4:10 for slashing, high sticking and boarding and three consecutive power play goals.
The Common Thread – While moving P.A. Parenteau to the point on the power play’s first wave may have not been very useful to Subban, Andrei Markov gained a veteran playmaking partner to match his own abilities in Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar was paired with Markov for the first and third power play goals and he drew an assist on the game winner. Markov drew first assist on the first two. There’ll be some coaching discussions over the next 24 hours over what to make of all of that.
Sniper – Max Pacioretty scored his 19th and 20th of the season. The first was one of his patented spin and release shots that caught Sergei Bobrovsky, who was having a brilliant game, completely off guard. On the game winner, Bobrovsky was set for a shot but Plekanec instead fed the slot perfectly for Pacioretty’s deflection.
In One Basket – One of the other guaranteed lengthy overnight coaching discussions will centre around this game’s new first line. Plekanec/Pacioretty/Gallagher dominated. Their Corsi numbers were off the charts. Without argument the best performance by a Canadiens forward line all season. Problem is, the other lines produced next-to-nothing in terms of offense. While Plekanec and company were producing 18 shots on goal, all of the other forwards managed only two shots and one scoring chance through the entire first two periods and only six in the game. That’s a major offensive imbalance, something coaches hate.
Also Worth Mentioning – ….Carey Price has had more difficult nights this season but, there were a couple of game changing moments and ultimately that’s ten of his last eleven starts in which he has allowed two goals or fewer. ….Pacioretty has a career high five game goal scoring streak going and goals in six of his last seven. ….Six road wins in a row for the first time in 33 years. Since December 9th the Canadiens are 10-2-1. …..Alexei Emelin wasn’t supposed to play. Therrien changed his mind and Emelin had a good night which included some pretty decisive playmaking, four hits and two blocked shots. …Although there wasn’t much in the game from lines 2,3 & 4, late in the second period Alex Galchenyuk was put between Jiri Sekac and Michael Bournival. The line produced two third period shots. Faint praise I know, but worth a second look. …..There have been better nights for P.K. Subban. He was generously charged with only one giveaway but I counted three more and he was in the penalty box when the Blue Jackets made it 2-0. He partially made up for that with the tieing power play goal but his overall game gets a C-minus.
Moving On – The Canadiens immediately chartered in to Ottawa and will play the Senators Thursday night looking for a seven straight road win. Expect to see Dustin Tokarski in goal. This win moved the Habs to within a point of Tampa in the Atlantic Division and the Canadiens continue to hold three games in hand over them. They’re only two points with a game in hand behind the Islanders for first place in the Eastern Conference and they’ll see New York Saturday at the Bell Centre.