A few good things happened to the Canadiens as they reached the quarter pole in their 2018-2019 season. The winning goal came on a power play, the Canadiens first in six games. It was their second consecutive win, something they hadn’t done since their three game winning streak a month ago. And they came away from their three game western Canada swing with two wins which is rare indeed.
Last season the Canadiens lost their season’s 20th game to drop their record to 8-10-2. It was to be the second loss of a five game losing streak.
With all of the ups-and-downs and hand wringing of the early stages of this season the Canadiens are 11-6-3 and holding down one of the wild-card berths in the Eastern Conference.
For the first time this season Carey Price has put together two straight strong games. He didn’t have to be as spectacular as he was in Calgary but it was a solid, in-control game and his puck handling was as good as we’ve seen it this season. Price wasn’t very happy with the third period power play goal that gave the Canucks the lead but it was part of a third period in which he stopped seventeen of eighteen shots giving the Canadiens their chance to win the game.
In Shea Weber‘s absence, Jeff Petry has been asked to carry a lot of water for the Canadiens over the last year. This was one of his best games. Petry’s high-risk high-reward style draws more ciriticism that it deserves. Against the Canucks it was all high-reward. His stretch pass to Tomas Tatar for the breakaway first goal was exceptional. He was solid defensively. An indication of how much Claude Julien depends on him; of his 27:49 ice time he spent 2:30 on the power play and 2:47 killing penalties. He also led the team with five hits and shared the team lead with four shots on goal.
It took Andrew Shaw fifteen games to catch up to his teammates after missing all of training camp. When Julien saw that his comeback was complete he immediately moved him up with Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin. With Shaw supplying the grit and the net presence, the line has been dynamic. Coming off his skate, his goal was an accident. But give him credit for being in front of the net. That’s five goals and two assists in the five games he’s been on the top line.
…..Shaw‘s linemates are riding hot streaks too. Domi and Drouin drew assists on the tieing goal only fifty seconds after Vancouver had taken the lead. Drouin then won the game with that power play goal with 2.44 left. Domi now has 5 goals and 13 points in a nine game points streak. Drouin had 2 goals, 5 assists in the five games since Shaw joined the line.
….Since he arrived in Montreal last season, injuries have prevented us from seeing what David Schlemko could bring to the team. I thought he was noticeable in a good way for the second straight game.
….Overall it was a pretty good night for the much-maligned Canadiens defence.
….Despite the game winning goal, the Canadiens power play wasn’t much to write home about. Nothing prior to Drouin‘s seeing-eye goal made me think it was coming out of it’s slump which is now three for the last 40 opportunities.
….Phillip Danault took 34 of the Canadiens 69 faceoffs. He won 44% of them.
A quick turnaround. The Canadiens will play the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre Monday night. The defending Stanley Cup Champions are actually behind the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference standings. That will be followed by games at New Jersey and Buffalo Wednesday and Friday and then Boston at the Bell Centre next Saturday.