It’s signifcant for a couple of reasons. The Canadiens obviously have shown an ability to bounce back from a loss something that was sorely lacking in last year’s team. But more importantly, they have shown an in-game ability to recover from a bad period to regain competitiveness .
Monday night at Brooklyn was another example. Flat, uninvolved and down 3-1 in the first period, the Canadiens got it together in the first intermission, resurrected their skating game and came back to win 4-3 in the shootout.
THE GOOD VERSION
Jonathan Drouin was clearly the Canadiens best forward.
He scored a goal in the first period, hit a third period crossbar followed by a miss of a wide open net with under five minutes left in regulation time. But the best indication that he was really into the game came in the third period when he fell trying to control the puck under checking in his own zone. On his belly he still managed to poke the puck to a teammate averting a dangerous situation in front of Antti Niemi. He finished the night with a goal and assist, but it was the attention to detail that stood out to me. We need to see this kind of thing from Drouin on a game-by-game basis.
There were a lot of passengers on the Canadiens first period bus.
One of them was Brendan Gallagher who was guilty of a turnover which led to the Islanders third goal and then with just over a minute left in the first period he took an offensive zone crosschecking penalty. During the first intermission he got himself and his game under control. He was his usual self in the final two periods.
Same thing could be said of the pairing of Jeff Petry and Jordie Benn. They were on the ice for two of the three goals. They were also solid in the second and third periods.
Antti Niemi didn’t get much help in the first period. He let in three goals on eight shots. There was not much he could do on any of them.
After that, he was very strong. Niemi set the tone for the comeback with a skate save on Mathew Barzal six minutes into the second period and three minutes later stopped Anthony Beauvillier on a breakaway.
Niemi found himself in his second shootout. He was good on all five Islander attempts before Joel Armia won the game in the fifth round. Niemi has not allowed a shootout goal in eight shots this season.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Phillip Danault didn’t show up on the scoresheet but he had a good night especially on the power play. The Islanders came up empty in eight minutes of power play time. Danault was on the penalty kill for 5:23. There were 54 faceoffs in the game. He took 24 of them and won 58% (14 of 24) Danault led forwards with 20:43 ice time and led all of his teammates with 31 shifts.
….Max Domi started the Canadiens back with a power play goal, the Canadiens first in 17 attempts dating back to October 23rd vs. Calgary. Domi now has goals in three straight games and eight of the last nine. He scored only nine in each of his last two seasons. Who predicted this breakthrough?
….Part of Drouin‘s big night were his 12 shooting attempts including his game high 6 on-goal.
….The goals have stopped coming for Tomas Tatar but not for lack of effort. He was second on the team with five on-goal shots.
….That game-tying goal by Artturi Lehkonen was his first since the opening game of the season in Toronto.
….There’s something to be said for simplicity. After four Canadiens tried to deke out Thomas Greiss in the shootout, Joel Armia simply let fly with a shot to win the game. It was the first time in his NHL career he was asked to participate in a shootout.
….Jesperi Kotkaniemi is gaining confidence. Five shots on goal as well, something he wasn’t doing until recently. Three more attempts were blocked.
….The fourth line continues to be a sore-point. When they were on the ice the Islanders were dangerous even in the second and third periods whil the Canadiens were mounting their offensive comeback. The return of Plekanec might help solve the problem.
….Only Danault and Domi were on the positive side in faceoffs. As a team the Canadiens were 48%.
….The Canadiens are 8-4-2 after 14 games. Last season at this point following a win in Winnipeg they were 5-8-1.
Madison Square Tuesday night. Carey Price will be back in goal. Canadiens have gone nine games without winning back-to-back dating back to a three game winning streak October 13-15-17 against Pittsburgh, Detroit and St. Louis.
They”ll return home to face Buffalo and Vegas Thursday and Saturday and then it’s off to Western Canada next week for Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.