The 3-2 win at the Saddledome was an act of thievery. The Canadiens were outshot 45-22 including 32-13 through the final two periods. The shots on goal totals were an accurate indication of the way the Canadiens were dominated in this game.
But give the Canadiens this: this was the ninth time this season they went into a game following a loss and they have somehow managed to come away with an 8-0-1 record. It’s a statistic that is keeping them semi-afloat through the season’s first nineteen games.
It was the near unanimous opinion that, if the Canadiens were going to have any hope of a playoff berth Carey Price would have to return to former glory. But he hasn’t. To the point where Julien started Antti Niemi the last two games. That week off seemed to do wonders.
This win was all Carey Price. He beat off 31 of 33 scoring chances. Fourteen of them were listed as the high danger variety.
Price could be faulted on Matthew Tkachuk’s second goal but he stopped 41 other shots to more than make up for it.
Now the challenge will be to do it again in Vancouver Saturday night.
Price had to be good because the team defence in front of him had another awful night. The Flames won most of the board battles and the Canadiens seldom were able to execute those quick transition plays that everyone was raving about in the first month of the season. Only Jeff Petry and Noah Juulsen seemed to maintain any kind of control in the defensive zone. Petry logged 26:21 and now ranks 6th in the league in average ice time per game. I noticed some improvement from David Schlemko early in the game although he still has a way to go to catch up to his teammates.
If anything, the Canadiens power play seems to be getting worse. Two opportunities against Calgary with no shots on goal. Not only that, they didn’t even come close. Two power play goals in the last 37 opportunities. While the power play was coming up empty, the Flames scored on their only opportunity leaving special teams at minus-1 again.
The Canadiens rank 30th in the league in third period goal scoring. Through the first 12 minutes they had only two shots. They scored on both of them. Jonathan Drouin had a good 200 foot game and was rewarded with the tieing goal off a hard working shift from linemates Andrew Shaw and Max Domi. Drouin led the Canadiens with four shots on goal.
The Artturi Lehkonen game-winner was a gift. It was his first since opening night. And then he missed an empty net on a late breakaway. It’s been that kind of season.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….An indication of the lopsided nature of the game – the Corsi number showed Calgary in possession of the puck 60.8 % of the game.
….Phillip Danault won 16 of 25 faceoffs – 64% and put in a solid night centring the first line.
…..With the assist on Drouin goal, Max Domi now has an eight game point streak going. Now 23 points in 19 games which ties him for eighth in the league. Nobody predicted that.
….The Canadiens are 6-1-3 in one-goal games this season.
….The Canadiens will try for a rare win of the three game Western Canadian swing when they take on the Canucks in Vancouver Saturday night. Then they return home to face Washington Monday before going back on the road to New Jersey and Buffalo Wednesday and Friday.