For the second game in a row it was the fourth line that led the way as the Canadiens shut out the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Members of the Malhotra, Weise and Prust led the way to 4-0 win and a sweep of the season series against Carolina .
The win moved the Canadiens into first place in the overall NHL standings.
Dale Weise scored what proved to be the winning goal early in the first period and added an assist. The line was a combined plus 7. The other goals for the Canadiens came from Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. It was Pacioretty’s 35th goal of the season. Carey Price recorded his 8th shutout of the season. The Canadiens were outshot 31-22 including 16-5 in the third period.
The Molson Cup three stars were Weise, defenseman Tom Gilbert and Price.
What It Means – The Canadiens now share the overall league lead with Anaheim with 97 points. The Habs get the edge because of the ROW tiebreaker. In the Atlantic Division the Canadiens have a four point lead on Tampa. The Lightning have only one game in hand. And we have ten games remaining in the season. Time does fly when you’re winning.
Refocused – There was a point last week where the Canadiens seemed to be losing their way. Brandon Prust took things into his own hands. Heading out on a three game road trip last Friday he made it clear that he and his teammates needed to get things sorted out. And then he led by example. Prust was strong in the win at Long Island, at Tampa he woke everyone up with two fights and a hard check on Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop He followed that with two assists in the win at Florida. He carried right through to this game ultimately playing a key role in the game’s first three goals.
First Star – No matter where in the lineup Michel Therrien puts Dale Weise, he makes his presence felt. He’s a fourth liner right now. How long that will last is anyone’s guess but while he’s there he’s making his mark. First star of this game and he earned it. He scored the first goal. There was a delayed penalty being called with Weise and Prust forechecking. David Desharnais came off the bench as Weise gave it to Gilbert who fed Desharnais for the goal which pretty much cemented the result.
No Gimme – The only drama remaining in the third period was whether Carey Price would get his eighth shutout of the season. It’s the Canadiens way that they would make him work for it. Shots on goal in the third pdriod favoured Carolina 16-5. Alex Galchenyuk took a slashing penalty with 2:21 and Price was forced to make outstanding saves on Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Ron Hainsey and Chris Terry to close this one out. That was Price’s sixth shutout in his last 21 starts and eighth of the season one behind Marc-Andre Fleury‘s league leading nine. As for his other league leading stats, it’s now 39 wins, 1.89 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.
Also Worth Mentioning – …..It wasn’t all Price and the fourth line. Max Pacioretty scored his 35th goal of the season and added an assist and now is an incredible plus-39 for the season. ……. Brendan Gallagher certifiably became a 20 goal scorer for the first time in his career. …..We shouldn’t forget the so-called third line. Lars Eller is back at centre with de la Rose back at the wing position and, along with Smith-Pelly there seems to be good chemistry. …….In only his third game back after missing 12 games with a shoulder injury, Alexei Emelin, at 22:46, led the Canadiens in ice time. …….Greg Pateryn was Emelin’s defense partner and he is quickly earning Michel Therrien’s respect. His 16:19 was, by far a career high for him.
Moving On – The short two-game homestand ends Saturday night against San Jose. Then games at Nashville Tuesday and Winnipeg Thursday before Florida comes to Montreal Saturday March 28th.