123 nj tokarskiThe Canadiens late season slump was prolonged Friday night in New Jersey as the Devils edged the Habs 3-2 in a shootout at the Prudential Centre. The Canadiens outshot the Devils 16-4 through the final period and overtime and Devils backupo Keith Kincaid then stopped both Canadiens attempts in the shootout to get the victory. Jacob Josefson Patrik Elias scored on Dustin Tokarski in the shootout to nail it down. The final shots on goal were 33-18 in the Canadiens favour. Scoring in regulation time were Stefan Matteau and Read Boucher. For the Canadiens it was Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Petry. The announced three stars in New Jersey were Andy Greene, Matteau and Brendan Gallagher.

Adding It Up

The Bright Side – With the loser’s point the Canadiens have 104 points on the season, still two ahead of Tampa Bay; each team with three games to play. They are 11 points ahead of third place Detroit who have five to play. It means the Canadiens are guaranteed home ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.

Running Out of Excuses – It started out as a mild slump that had it’s origins on the West Coast at the beginning of March but this one the Canadiens haven’t been able to shake. The Canadiens left Montreal for the West on the wings of a four game win streak. The Canadiens have managed only six wins in their last 17 games (6-7-4). They are also 1-3-3 over their last seven games. This is not the way one would think a team should be approaching the playoffs.

123 nj gomezNo Advantage – The Canadiens first goal of the game came seven seconds into their first power play of the game. It marked the fourth consecutive game they had scored with the man advantage. So what! The power play continues to be downright awful. The Canadiens were to get five more power plays in the game with hardly a smell. In a five minute major to Scott Gomez in the second period the power play produced one shot; Subban from the blueline. With just over two minutes in the overtime Andy Greene was sent off giving the Canadiens a 4 on 3. Result – one shot on goal (a 45 footer from Gallagher) and hardly any puck possession. The Canadiens were on their power play for twenty percent of the game – 12:39. They produced a total of nine shots; three each by Gallagher and Subban and two from Plekanec. Jeff Petry had the other one. Absolutely nothing from the second wave of Desharnais, Parenteau and Galchenyuk and nothing from Pacioretty either.

Nobody Seems Interested – The redeeming factor, if there is anything redeeming about playing .470 percentage hockey, it’s the fact that almost everyone within sight of the Canadiens in the Atlantic Division standings seems to be simply playing out the string as well. Over their last ten games, of a possible twenty points the Canadiens have eleven (4-3-3), Tampa also has eleven (5-4-1) and third place Detroit has managed only eight points (3-5-2). Try to explain that one.

123 nj kinkaidWorth Mentioning – …….Tomas Plekanec was once again the Canadiens best forward. Over his last eleven games he has 4 goals and 6 assists. Over the eleven games he has 39 shots on goal which is second only to the 42 recorded by Brendan Gallagher. …….Unfortunately not even Gallagher’s inspired effort could shake his teammates out their doldrums. Gallagher had a game-high six shots on goal and an assist. …….Don’t know what to think about Max Pacioretty‘s game. He had four shots on goal but only one scoring chance and was completely outplayed by linemates Plekanec and Gallagher. ……The offensive part of Jeff Petry‘s game seems to be finally kicking in. He has four points in his last four games and a goal in each of his last three. …..Alexei Emelin was credited with only three hits, but every one of them was a boomer. It was Emelin’s hard hit that led to Scott Gomez’s retaliation and game misconduct. ……P.K. Subban‘s ice time was 20 seconds short of 30 minutes. There were times when I got the feeling he was trying to do too much on his own but considering where his teammates were for most of the night, he probably didn’t have much choice.

Moving On – With three games remaining in their season the Canadiens chartered to South Florida after the game. They’ll play the Panthers Sunday at 5:00. Then return to Montreal for their final home game of the season versus Detroit on Thursday, a game that might be a preview of a first round playoff matchup..  The regular season ends Saturday in Toronto.