It was just another way for the Canadiens to lose a hockey game. They outshot, outskated and dominated the St. Louis Blues all the way to the overtime period but could not overcome their own blunders and wound up on the short end of a 4-3 loss.
Three losses in a row. The last two, in which they outshot opponents by a combined 89-55, are particularly frustrating. They put 40 on the board against Chicago Thursday and the shots vs. the Blues were 49-22. Look at it two ways. The anaemic Canadiens offense could manage only 3 goals on 49 shots. Taken the other way, the Canadiens gave up four goals on only 22 shots.
If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.
The Canadiens were their own worst enemies. The put themselves in a hole in the first minute of the game when Robby Fabbri found himself alone in front of the net while Mike Condon had his back turned to the play. The Canadiens did come back to take a 2-1 but then just over a minute later Paul Stastny took advantage of another breakdown to tie it. The Canadiens took the lead in the third and again within a minute the Blues had tied it thanks to a Condon foulup behind the net. The overtime winner was the result of naked giveaway by Andrei Markov. Three-on-three overtime is a learning process and it’s apparent the main ingredients for a successful overtime is speed and puckhandling ability. Markov has lost a lot of his speed and he mishandled the puck into a giveaway leading the breakaway for the winning goal. Markov can still contribute but using him 3-on-3 is not a good thing.
The bad news didn’t end there. How many shots on goal does it take for the Canadiens to score three goals? On this night, it required 49, which means by no means is the team over the hump offensively. The Canadiens scored a power play goal, which is good. But the undisciplined Blues gave them seven advantages in the game.
That was the bad news.
On the other side of the ledger, the Canadiens got a point which kept them barely in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. And “barely” is the operative word. They hold the final wild card spot but New Jersey, Ottawa and even Carolina is nipping on their heels.
There was the Tomas Plekanec line which had 22 of the Canadiens 49 shots. Plekanec took nine of those shots and scored just his second goal in 28 games. He also assisted on Max Pacioretty’s goal. The captain had six shots. On the other end of the line, Gallagher hit the net on seven of his 12 attempts.
Alex Galchenyuk took six shots on goal, but he had to do it pretty much on his own. His centre David Desharnais was invisible and so was right wing Dale Weise played like he was coming off two weeks on the injury list; which he was.
Lars Eller was back at centre between Paul Byron and Tomas Fleischmann. Although the line was on the ice for two of the four goals, we saw a little more offense from especially Eller and Fleischmann than we had over the last six weeks.
With all of the penalties, P.K. Subban’s ice time was again close to 30 minutes (29:53). The Canadiens 12:27 with the man advantage. Subban was on the ice for all but one minute of it (11:26). He took 14 shots, 7 of them on-goal. And he scored his third goal of the season on a first period power play.
But there’s always something. It’s that way when you’ve won only 4 of the last 19 games. If there’s a team that needs an injection of new blood in the room it’s the Canadiens. Carey Price returning to the lineup may be just what the doctor ordered but they have five games between now and his expected return right after the All-Star break. By then, there’s a strong possiblity that they will find themselves looking up at teams that are in the playoff picture. Not a pleasant prospect.
Note – The Canadiens continue to take a close look at the progress of Jonathan Drouin who is apparently on the trade block and is playing with Tampa’s Syracuse farm team. Friday night Canadiens vice president Rick Dudley and Eastern pro scout Mark Mowers watched him. Saturday night it was Eric Crawford. Drouin recorded an assist but no shots on goal in a 4-2 Syracuse win over Wilkes-Barre. Crawford is the younger brother coach Marc Crawford and a former director of player personnel with the Vancouver Canucks.