Led by a goal and two assists from P.K. Subban, the Canadiens completed their three game season sweep of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 5-2 victory Thursday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Jacob de la Rose scored the first two goals of his career, the second into an empty net. Andrei Markov and Max Pacioretty scored the other Canadiens goals. For the Blue Jackets it was Brandon Dubinsky and Marko Dano. Shots on goal were even 27-27. The three stars were Subban, de la Rose and Markov.
Adding It Up –
On the Books – The Canadiens now lead the Atlantic Division by 5 points over Tampa, still with a game in hand. They have a three point lead on the Rangers and Islanders in the Eastern Conference and, they joined Nashville and the Islanders as the only teams with 40 wins. The Canadiens have earned at least a point in 15 of their last 18 games and they’re the league-best 23-6-3 over their last 32.
The Legend Grows – Carey Price stopped 25 of 27 shots extending his team record to ten road victories in a row. Not a particularly difficult night, but he was there when he had to be. First goaltender to notch ten road wins in a row in five years (San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov – 2010). Over those ten road games Price has allowed 12 goals for a goals against average of 1.20 and save percentage of .956.
Never Better – We’ve seen some really good nights from the defense pairing of P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov over the last three months, this might have been their best at both ends of the ice. They were on the ice for all five Canadiens goals and they both wound up plus-5. Subban had a goal and two assists; Markov a goal and assist. For Subban it’s now a goal and 13 assists over his last 12 games.
Rewarded – Even those of us who watched Jacob de la Rose‘s work through the first half of the season in Hamilton have been surprised at how smooth his transition to the NHL has been. Michel Therrien has increased his responsibility game by game and finally in his eleventh NHL game he deflected Brandon Prust‘s shot for his first NHL goal. He then was on the ice with the Columbus net empty and made it a two goal game. His line read like a veteran – 2 goals; 6 shots attempted-4 on-goal; 1 hit; 3 blocked shots. Give P.K. credit. He was the one dove into Columbus net to retrieve the souvenir puck.
Triggerman – Max Pacioretty reached the 30 goal plateau in the game. It was his 8th game winner of the season, which ties him with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead. Once again he was on the ice in every situation – even strength (16:26); power play (2:37); penalty kill (1:20). He is now a league leading plus-34. Is it time to start mentioning Pacioretty’s name in connection with the Selke Trophy.
The New Guy – Devante Smith-Pelly handled himself well in his new surroundings. His ice-time was 17:11 which is a lot considering his lack of system-familiarity. Two shots on goal and four hits, which is OK. The first half of the game he played on the third line with de la Rose and Prust. Therrien liked what he saw enough that he bumped him up with Plekanec and Galchenyuk for the second 30 minutes.
Also Worth Mentioning – …..Brendan Gallagher once again was in the opposition’s face the entire night. Every one of his four shots on goal was a scoring chance. ….Manny Malhotra contributed more offensively than we’ve seen this season. Don’t expect a points explosion but his offensive zone faceoff win led to Subban’s goal that opened the game scoring. His second point of the year.
Moving On – The Canadiens returned home and they’ll face Toronto Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Then next week they are on the road for four tough Western Conference games in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Arizona.