123 game 6t priceIICarey Price stopped all 43 shots and the Canadiens registered a 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre Sunday night. It allowed the Canadiens to move on to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Brendan Gallagher scored a highlight reel goal in the first period. The rest of the game was Price before Max Pacioretty scored into an empty net with 0.3 seconds remaining to end the suspense.

Final shots on goal were 43-20 for the Senators including 28-7 after Gallagher scored his goal at 13:26 of the first period. The game’s three stars were Price, Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Gallagher.

Adding It Up –

123 game 6 gallagherPicture Perfect – The sequence leading up to what proved to be the winning goal of the series was surreal and a testament Brendan Gallagher‘s unrelenting hockey style. It started with the blade of Zack Smith’s stick through Gallagher’s skate blade.  Somehow Gallagher was able to shake it lose without falling down.  He then straight to the net while Pacioretty chased the puck into the corner and sent it back to Greg Pateryn at the point.  Pateryn’s shot was high off  what appeared to be Gallagher’s glove (some say his stick). Gallagher then spun and batted the rebound puck out of mid air into the net.  (You can see it again below)

Taking Charge – At the time of the goal the Canadiens were outshooting Ottawa 11-4. And, as has been their habit all season, they turned the game over to Price. For the next 46:34 the Senators poured 32 shots on Price. His best save may have been off the shaft of his stick on Kyle Turris‘ shot on a 2-on-1 just under two minutes after Gallagher’s goal. At that point anyone watching was aware that Price was in-the-zone.

Closing The Deal – With 3:14 remaining referee Brad Watson called Jacob de la Rose for tripping. Not the best time or place for a referee to be putting a team down a man on a cheap penalty in a 1-0 game. (Maybe an even-up for the second period quick whistle that disqualified a Pageau goal). With that penalty, the Canadiens basically played the final 3:14 of the game down a skater.  On the power play the Senators had three shots. Then they pulled their goaltender with 1:45 left. And the tension ratcheted up another two levels. Eight more shots on Price, three outstanding saves before Max Pacioretty finally cleared it into the empty net. All tolled, in the final 3:14 Price stopped eleven shots to nail it down.

Comfort Zone – It’s probably because of the confidence his teammates have in Price, but no team in the league is more comfortable protecting a one goal lead than the Canadiens. If you discount the empty net goal by Pacioretty with .03 seconds left, all four of the Habs wins in the series were by a single goal, two in overtime.

123 game 6 ellerThe Supporting Cast – Outside of Gallagher who led the Canadiens with four shots on goal, there were some very good performances. Up front Lars Eller continued to show that he’s better hockey player under playoff pressure than he is during the regular season. I think I should include linemate Brandon Prust. The two of them supplied a strong physical presence. Eller also won 11 of 13 faceoffs in the game. On defense, two players stood out – Tom Gilbert and Jeff Petry. Gilbert had five hits, which was good, but more impressive was the confident way he moved the puck to the forwards. The same could be said of Petry. Only P.K. Subban logged more ice time than Alexei Emelin which probably says a lot about what the coaching staff thought about Emelin’s game.

Unsung – Who remembers the contributions of the fourth liners? But something has to be said for Torrey Mitchell‘s presence not only in this game but the series. The Canadiens were at 70% in defensive zone faceoffs in this game. The really tough ones were taken by Mitchell who won 10 of 16. He spent the night with de la Rose and Smith-Pelly and the line also contributed a bit on offense, an area that was lacking when Manny Malhotra had the job.

Showing his Age – I’m trying to remember the last time Andrei Markov had as difficult a night as this one. This has been a really tough series and Markov has absorbed more than his share of the 287 hits the Senators dished out over five games. In this one, he looked tired and slow. Time to tell him to stay away from arena for a few days and moving forward, perhaps reduce his ice time.

123 game six sizeShrugging It Off – ….The Senators game plan was to use their superior size to wear the Canadiens down with a relentless hitting game. Sounds like a good plan, at least on paper. Against the Canadiens it doesn’t work and hasn’t all season. In this game the hits were 45-23. In the four Canadiens wins the hit parade favoured the Senators 203-142.

Hurry Up and Wait – There’ll be a day off for the team tomorrow. Maybe even Tuesday while the Canadiens wait for Tampa Bay and Detroit to settle things. Detroit leads that series 3-2 with sixth game at the Joe Louis Monday and if necessary a seventh game Wednesday in Tampa Bay. Pick your poison. The Lightning won all five   games against the Canadiens during the regular season (0-4-1). On the other hand the Canadiens swept Detroit. As Ottawa found out, regular season records don’t mean a whole lot come playoff time.

Video – Gallagher Game Winner