As to the rest of us, I’m not hearing many complaints, especially from the Montreal fan base.
This was an extaordinary night filled with the kind of end-to-end free wheeling hockey we seldom see in the so-called ‘new’ NHL. It was a game that featured a two goal third period Canadiens comeback and Max Pacioretty scoring the game winner at 3:07 of overtime on the Canadiens 50th shot of the game.
For the longest time, this game looked like so many this season. When the Jets made it 4-2 the shots on goal were 37-14 in favour of the Canadiens. In earlier games, the disappoint of coughing up two quick goals would have cause Canadiens to emotionally collapse and drift through the final minutes on their way to a loss they had worked hard enough to win. However on this night, i the Canadiens just kept on keeping-on. The Canadiens had used a relentless forecheck through the first two periods. If anything, trailing by two goals, they found another gear. Hard work produced the Plekanec and then the Petry goal that tied the game. And it was more of the same in the overtime before Pacioretty won it.
At the end of last season the second guessers were out in full force over the six year 23 million dollar contract Marc Bergevin gave Andrew Shaw. Then at training camp we found out Shaw played through the final half of last season with the after-effects of a concussion. It was clear in the first week of the season that he had his game back and against Winnipeg he showed why Bergevin signed him. Shaw outfought the much larger Winnipeg defense at the crease all night, which created a truckload of problems for goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Shaw was rewarded with those two early power play goals and his forecheck created the Petry game-tieing goal.
Julien finally gave up on the idea of Max Pacioretty on a line with Jonathan Drouin in Anaheim two weeks ago. He re-united him with Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw in the second period of that game and it was like old times.. With Shaw supplying the elbow grease and Danault showing an improvement in his playmaking the line has produced 9 goals and 10 assists in six games. What looked like a demotion for the then-struggling Pacioretty has proven to be a promotion.
IN A ZONE
We’ve seen Brendan Gallagher play some awfully good hockey over his five-plus seasons in Montreal. I would be hard-pressed to think of anything better than the stretch he has going through now. Like Shaw, Gallagher is playing about six inches bigger than his 5’9” height and he’s healthy. The highlight of his night was the battle he won along the boards to set up the Plekanec goal. Gallagher now has nine points his last six games.
Nobody is taking this come-from-behind win as a season watershed moment. The Canadiens gave up four more goals despite a pretty good effort from Al Montoya.
The defense continues to be a one-man show. Shea Weber posted two more assists and now has 9 points his last six games. He also logged another 29:08. Weber is now 32. How long can that sort of thing continue?
The rest of the blueline remains chaotic.
Some will disagree but I actually liked what I saw from Jeff Petry despite the fact his feet tangled and he fell allowing Blake Wheeler to score the Jets fourth goal. Petry’s partner Karl Alzner still has a truckload of issues despite a plus-2 night.
Victor Mete still moves the puck well but seemed to be overwhelmeed when targeted by the Winnipeg forecheck.
I have no idea why Julien dropped Brandon Davidson in favour of Joe Morrow for this game.
All of that said, defensemen produced 20 of the Canadiens 50 shots in the game.
….Four members of the Canadiens posted six shots, Pacioretty plus defensemen Weber, Petry and Jordie Benn.
….Alex Galchenyuk appears to have learned from his demotion to the fourth line. He was back up on the Drouin line and had a pretty productive night. It was his work that set up the overtime game-winner by Pacioretty. He had five shots on goal.
….Only two Canadiens failed to register a shot in the game, Morrow and Michael McCarron.
….The Jets outhit the Canadiens 25-11. The Canadiens didn’t seem impressed nullifying most of it with their speed, especially in transition through the neutral zone.
….Danault was 10-3 in the faceoff circle and when Shaw took over he was 5 and 3.
….Canadiens checking forced the Jets to giveaway the puck 20 times. The Canadiens were guilty of only seven.
To Chicago for the Canadiens’ third game in four nights and the second of back-to-back games. It will also be the second in two nights for the Hawks who shutout the Wild in Minnesota Saturday night. The Canadiens haven’t won a game at Chicago’s United Centre in fifteen years.