After trailing 2-0 halfway through the game, the Canadiens came back to tie the game on goals by Sven Andrighetto and Alex Galchenyuk and the same pair combined for goals in the five-round shootout to give the Canadiens 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at Newark Friday night. It was the Canadiens fourth win in a row and their sixth in their last seven games.
Adam Henrique and Lee Stempniak gave the Devils their 2-0 lead. Stempniak also drew an assist.
The shots on goal in the game were even at 27 apiece. The announced three stars in New Jersey were Galchenyuk, goaltender Corey Schneider and Stempniak.
Adding It Up –
One for the Coach – Michel Therrien has been in the habit of putting Alex Galchenyuk out with Plekanec and Pacioretty on the first wave of power plays. He did it eight minutes into the third period and for the entire two minutes the puck was inside the Devils blueline. He apparently liked it so much he left them together the rest of the period and it paid off at 11:14 when Pacioretty caught Galchenyuk on the fly at centre ice. Galchenyuk blew by defensemen Adam Larsson and Andy Greene and went backhand/shelf on Schneider to force the overtime.
Same Old Story – Jacques Lemaire and Lou Lamoriello may be gone but their legacy is intact. Beating the Devils, especially in their own building is hard work. New Jersey had the neutral zone shut down through the first half of the game and they fed off it offensively. Shots on goal when Stempniak made it 2-0 on a power play were 20-9.
Sorting It Out – At 2-0 the Canadiens finally started to figure things out. The rest of the period and the third belonged to the Canadiens and New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider. In the final 30 minutes and the overtime the Canadiens outshot the Devils 18-9.
Staking a Claim – Sven Andrighetto is doing his level best to make sure he’s not sent back to St. John’s. He put the Canadiens on the scoreboard by being in perfect position to accept the pass from Lars Eller. And his game winning goal in the shootout was the epitome of cool as put the wrister under Schneider’s glove from 20 feet. That overtime holding penalty in the offensive zone probably upset his coach but ultimately he’s forgiven I’m sure.
The Backup – If we’re to believe that Carey Price is gone for a month as reports are now indicating, Mike Condon is no longer the Canadiens backup. Condon struggled near the end of his nine game run while Price was on the shelf the first time. He was back in his early season form in this game. Condon was particularly good on three shorthanded 2-on-1 breaks, two of them involving Travis Zajak. He could be faulted on neither goal. He stopped the veteran Patrik Elias to nail down the shootout in the fifth round.
The Future – Few do that backhand-shelf routine better than Alex Galchenyuk. The goal that tied the game came in that manner and he did it again to Cory Schneider in the shootout’s first round. It might be argued that the Galchenyuk like was the Canadiens best on the night (although you could make an argument for Desharnais/Fleischmann/Weise). In his last three games Galchenyuk has 2 goals, 2 assists and is plus-5.
Also Worth Mentioning –
….Michel Therrien warned after the game that just because he put Galchenyuk on the wing with Plekanec and Pacioretty “that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a right wing. We still think he is a good centre.” And improving every game it seems.
….Bud Holloway made his NHL debut with mixed reviews. Some thought he looked slow in the high tempo of this game. My own feeling was he looked nervous, especially in the early going. He was given ten shifts and 7:19 which was not much different than his linemates Paul Byron and Brian Flynn got 5-on-5. Interesting to see whether he gets another chance Saturday at the Bell Centre or Christian Thomas, of whom speed is not a question, replaces him.
….The Plekanec line had a quiet night up until the time Therrien added Galchenyuk to the mix. Five of Pacioretty’s 6 shots and 3 of Plekanec’s 4 came in the third period and the overtime.
….I guess great games from P.K. Subban are so commonplace we tend to shrug it off as simply the norm. He was really good including the fact that he took eleven shots and hit the net on 6 of them. 27:11 in ice tie to lead both teams.
….The Canadiens have swept the first four of a five game stretch against Metropolitan division terams and are now 7-0-1 against the division this season.
….Scoresheet leaders – Pacioretty and Subban had their six shots each. Canadiens were outhit 34-13 but apparently that is now filed in the “who cares” category. It seems to be that way every night. On the more important giveaway/takeaway stat, the Canadiens came out on top 36-20.
Ahead – So we move on. The Canadiens and Devils meet for the second time in 24 hours Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Will Mike Condon be asked to play in back-to-back games for the first time in the NHL? (He did it often in the AHL last season). The alternative of course is Dustin Tokarski. Will the Devils bring Cory Schneider back? Stay tuned.