But it wasn’t supposed to be THIS goaltender.
With his parents in from Minnesota to watch, Charlie Lindgren gave the Canadiens his fourth consecutive quality start and there is no question in anyone’s mind that he was the only reason the Canadiens came away with an overtime win Saturday night against Buffalo.
Of the 34 saves Lindgren made, ten were listed as high-danger scoring chances. The only goal he allowed came on a power play bad bounce out of a goalmouth scramble.
Lindgren has given the Canadiens their best stretch of rookie goaltending since Ken Dryden came up from the Montreal Voyageursin March of 1971. There may be an exploitable flaw somewhere in his game. So far, no-one has found it and it’s quite possible, like Dryden, the scouts won’t find one.
The Buffalo Sabres entered the game with the worst record in the Eastern Conference so you could hardly blame them from trying dull the game down to a all-out bore.
I have no idea what the Canadiens excuse was. In the first period the Sabres pumped 17 shots at Lindgren. The Canadiens puck management and decision making was dreadful. It marginally improved in the second period and only started to be competitive after Andrew Shaw scored that tip-in power play goal to tie it at 1-1 early in the third.
In his post game comments Claude Julien complained that “the Canadiens didn’t do a good enough job of going to the net” in the first period.
Max Pacioretty was as guilty as the rest of the forwards. After attempting only one shot in the opening period he cranked his game up the rest of the way. Max Pacioretty’s ninth shot of the game at 4:08 of the overtime was the game winner. Pacioretty also earned second assist on the tieing goal.
IPacioretty appears to be on one of his periodic streaks. After going seven games without a point, he has six goals, five assists in his last ten games.
I suppose we should celebrate the fact that the Sabres managed only one goal but the credit belongs to Lindgren,, Claude Julien said at the start of the season that his defense would have to operate as a committee. Committees never accomplish much and that’s the continuing story at the blueline We’re 18 games into the schedule and I still have no sense that the “committe” is functioning. there is never a feeling that the group is in control in their own zone. The Canadiens have won seven of their last ten games thanks mostly for a re-energized offense and not from any recognizable improvement at the blueline.
….Alex Galchenyuk didn’t earn a point in this game and recorded only two shots on goal, but over three periods I thought he was the best Canadiens forward. Having Jonathan Drouin as his centre hasn’t hurt, but there is self-confidence in his game that hadn’t been there in the past.
…..The only thing that kept a huge part of the 20,000 at the Bell Centre from passing out from boredom was that first period fight between Jordie Benn and former Hab Josh Gorges. Benn was sticking up for Brendan Gallagher who took a stiff borderline check from Gorges.
….One statistic that stood out was Charles Hudon’s ice time. He was given only 7:35 including only four shifts in the third period. Hudon seems misemployed on the fourth line. Granted he’s caught in the left wing numbers game behind Pacioretty, Galchenyuk and Byron but he’s been playing better than his ice time indicates. Over Ihis 13 shifts he still managed two shots on goal and registered three hits.
….Led once again by Tomas Plekanec the Canadiens won 61% of the faceoffs. Plekanec won 62% (13 and 8)
….We were told after the game that goaltender Al Montoya has a concussion and will be out of the lineup indefinitely. Until Carey Price comes back, it looks like it’s up to Lindgren and Zach Fucale to shoulder the load.
The Canadiens are still a game under .500. They are going to be a lot better than they wree in this game if they want to even their record/ They play Columbus Tuesday and then after lowly Arizona on Thursday, the Toronto crcus comes to town Saturday to close out the six game homestand.