At this point last season losing had become already become a Canadiens habit. They lost eight of their first ten games including seven in a row.
This season the Canadiens have won six of ten and each of their losses has been followed by a win.
They lost the season opener at Toronto in overtime and came back with a win in Pittsburgh. A loss to Los Angeles followed by a shootout win over the Penguins. The win over Calgary followed an overtime loss in Ottawa. And after that disappointing effort Thursday in Buffalo we have an airtight shutout win in Boston.
6-2-2 through ten games. Not bad at all.
Early on in this game as the Bruins were putting on their pressure you had the sense that Carey Price was in the zone. When he is at his best there is a well documented calmness to his net presence. At no time in the game was he out of control which is usually marked by desperate flopping around. He was consistently square to the Boston shooters. He had to be especially good on David Pastrnak who came into the game with ten goals in the season’s first ten games. Pastrnak posted six shots on goal. Price was exceptional on three of them, most notably with six minutes remaining on a Boston power play when he came over to shut down Pastrnak’s back door attempt. Thirty-three saves for his 41st career shutout and his 290th career win. All things considered a very nice night’s work.
It was put upon Phillip Danault to do something about Patrice Bergeron and his line. Against Bergeron it all starts with faceoffs and Danault did the job. He won 8 of 14 including 7 of 12 in the Canadiens defensive zone.
The Bergeron line still produced eleven shots on goal but outside of a couple of those Pastrnak chances, nothing of a highly dangerous nature. Credit not only Danault but linemates Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar.
The Canadiens scored two first period goals in an 81 second span. First it was Brendan Gallagher from a very bad angle on a shot that Tuuka Rask surely would like to have back. It turned out to be the game winning goal. It wasn’t a good goal but it was typical Gallagher. Coming off the bench he was first on the puck along the boards in the Boston end. Twice he eluded Noel Accari’s check before letting a bad angle shot go that eluded Rask on the short side. Six goals in ten games now for Gallagher.
Max Domi scored the second goal. What was remarkable was he started and finished the play. From deep in his own end, Domi sent a perfect pass to Artturi Lehkonen who had gone to the bench for a new stick. Lehkonen was on a breakaway but was slashed and lost control before he could shoot. He collected the puck behind the net and put it in front for Domi who had come from deep in own end to position himself for the shot. Domi now has 5 goals, 3 assists in an active six game points streak.
It was the same story, but with a better result. Starting in the early stages of the second period the Canadiens went into their defensive shell. Through the final two periods Boston had a marked territorial advantage. In the third period they had the puck 76% of the time and had four so-called high danger scoring chances. But a lot of their play was on the outside and there were some key blocked shots and a disallowed goal. Price did the rest. Still don’t like the idea of changing a playing style that gave the Canadiens lead to a protective shell but on the other hand they again were good enough to give themselves a lead to protect.
….Artturi Lehkonen‘s only goal came in the first game of the season. I don’t hear anyone complaining about his play however. Including his two assists in this game, he has five points his last five games and has been a key part of Domi‘s six game point streak.
….This was Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s tenth game of the season, which triggers the first year of his entry level contract. Claude Julien admitted after the game that he sheltered Kotkaniemi from some of the tougher matchups. Kotkaniemi logged 11:27, only the second time he’s been below 12 minutes this season.
….Noah Juulsen and Andrew Shaw were replaced by Karl Alzner and Charles Hudon. Juulsen has an injury and Shaw’s game isn’t up to speed after missing the entire training camp. Alzner logged 18:03 and led Canadiens defencement with 5 hits.
….Because of brief power play time, Hudon logged 10:34. The other members of the fourth line managed less than ten minutes. Peca 9:25 and Deslauriers 8:15. You want more participation out of a fourth line. Despite their limited ice time, members of that line took two of the four Canadiens penalties. Plekanec is missed.
…Victor Mete and Tomas Tatar were the only Canadiens not to register a shot on goal. Gallagher and Byron led with three apiece.
….Jeff Petry continues to log the big minutes. In this game 26:08 which is six minutes more than Jordie Benn who was second. Benn, by the way, had another very good night.
….Another pretty good game from Xavier Ouellet which included 2 shots on goal and a team leading three blocked shots.
Home again for three games. Dallas Tuesday, Washington Thursday and Tampa Bay Saturday. The Tampa Bay game will be the first of three in four nights. The Canadiens play at the Islanders and Rangers back to back Monday and Tuesday of next week.