Max Pacioretty closed the game out with an empty net goal.
Both Plekanec and Pacioretty had two point games.
The win pushed the Canadiens back into sole possession of the points lead in the Eastern Conference and at the same time allowed the Habs to pull six points ahead of the third place Wings. The final shots on goal were 28-25 in the Canadiens favour. The Molson Cup three stars were Price, Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard and Plekanec.
Adding It Up –
The Reality – The odds seem to be pretty good that the Canadiens and Red Wings could meet in either the first or second round of the playoffs which would be the first series since 1978 when Scotty Bowman‘s Canadiens played them. After the game Detroit coach Mike Babcock called it a “check fest”. He meant it in a good way. It certainly wasn’t a boring check-fest. These were two structured, well coached teams playing for the most part, mistake free hockey. It was a playoff game minus the heavy hitting.
MVP!! – Let the Hart Trophy talk seriously begin. Fifth shutout of the year for Carey Price, his third in the his last eleven starts. Once again he made it look easier than it was. His night included a glove save on Darren Helm‘s first period breakaway. In the second he got a toe on Henrik Zetterberg‘s tip from in front and seconds before Plekanec’s winning goal he stopped Gustav Nyquist. Price is 8-0-0 in his last eight starts on the road with two shutouts.
For the Books – Price is the first Canadiens goaltender to register a shutout in Detroit since Ken Dryden’s backup Bunny Larocque on March 27, 1977. Price now leads the league in both goals-against average (1.93) and save percentage (.935). Since his December 6th 4-1 loss in Dallas Price’s record is 18-3-1 with a 1.39GAA, a .951 save percentage and three shutouts. Of Price’s 32 victories this season he has allowed one goal or fewer 21 times.
Complete Effort – With the last change Babcock chose to have Henrik Zetterberg play head-to-head against Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec won the night. He scored the game winner and assisted on the empty net goal. In the faceoff circle he won five of 8 against Zetterberg. Plekanec’s line had seven shots on goal. The Zetterberg line produced four. Zetterberg is too good to assume this is going to be a trend, but Plekanec can have the satisfaction of winning this night.
What’s With This? – Max Pacioretty received 17:03 ice time only 30 seconds more than Lars Eller. He took only five shots and only two on goal. Whatever the reason for the reduced work load, he made a major play in the final minute of the second period when his backchecking nullified a Luke Glendening breakaway after P.K. Subban stumbled on some loose tape at his own blueline and coughed up the up the puck. At the end it was Pacioretty who started the winning goal sequence when the rebound off his shot went to the boards and Dale Weise alertly found Plekanec coming off the bench for the screen shot. Pacioretty and scored the empty netter for a two point night.
Credit Due – With whatever respect is due for the anti-Therrien crowd, once again he seemed to push all the right buttons. Most interesting was his liberal use of the de la Rose/Eller/Prust line in the third period of a scoreless game. Only the Plekanec line logged more in the final period. De la Rose had eight shifts in the third after being given a total of 12 through the first two periods. Therrien also spotted speedy Christian Thomas at times on the right side of the Desharnais line with some effect.
Also Worth Mentioning – The Canadiens are 9-1-0 in their last ten road games and with a 17-8-1 record, lead the league in road winning percentage. ….The Red Wings came into the game with the most dominant power play in the league. Canadiens penalty killers gave up only one shot on the two Detroit opportunities. …..Probably ignored in dispatches will be the game Tom Gilbert played. Next to Subban and Markov, he logged the most minutes (20:32) and blocked five shots. He made a great play on Zetterberg to nullify a scoring chance early in the third period. ….Not as impressed with Mike Weaver. Perhaps Greg Pateryn will see his first NHL action in two years in Ottawa Wednesday…..P.K. Subban logged another 28:10. That’s 63 minutes over the last two games. Subban, Markov and Gallagher each recorded four shots. …De la Rose his building a reputation quickly. He led the Canadiens in hits with four. ….I’m beginning to wonder if Manny Malhotra‘s season might have hit the wall. He won only 4 of 17 faceoffs. He has been on the ice one Canadiens goal all season, Without faceoff dominance his value is markedly diminished.
Traveling On – The Canadiens chartered to Ottawa after the game. They’ll meet the Senators Wednesday in the first of another back to back set of games to be followed by Florida at the Bell Centre on Thursday. Last time the Canadiens saw the Senators was a 4-1 loss January 15th in Ottawa. The Canadiens are 10-2-1 since.