Forty-nine shots on goal against Carolina and a 2-1 loss brought the Canadiens losing streak to five games, three of them on home ice. The Canadiens have won 9 of their 25 games this season and with this loss finally dropped out of final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Curtis McIlhenny, a Carolina waiver claim in October, gave the Hurricanes the kind of goaltending many hoped Carey Price would be giving the Canadiens on a regular basis this season. He stopped 48 of 49 shots including all but one in a third period where the Canadiens outshot them 22-2. Analytics tell the story of this game. According to Corsi numbers they had the puck 64.66 percent of the time and in the Fenwicks percentage of unblocked shots it was 65.82%. The Canadiens also led 18-3 in high danger scoring chances. There are nights like this but we’re starting to see a pattern.
Shea Weber played in his first game since December 16th of last year and was the Canadiens best defenceman (and he even made partner David Schlemko look good). Weber led both teams with 25:19 ice time and earned the loudest cheer for a second assist you’ll ever hear at the Bell Centre. Carolina was watching for him. Of his thirteen shot attempts only three reached the net. Eight were blocked.
Unlike part of this losing streak the Canadiens obviously could have won this game. Shots on goal and puck possession indicate that. But, the Canadiens were ordinary in the first two periods and then were playing from behind in the third. In today’s NHL playing from behind in always a challenge. Bad puck luck is always a part of losing streaks.
Nothing Price could do on the two goals he let in. But the name of the game is winning and Carey hasn’t been doing it. This was the sixth time in his last eight starts that he’s been on the losing end and the fourth in a row. Both goals came from Carolina’s fourth line.
Unlike part of this losing streak the Canadiens obviously could have won this game. Shots on goal, scoring chances and puck possession clearly indicate it.
But, the Canadiens were ordinary in the first two periods and then were playing from behind in the third. In today’s NHL playing from behind will alway be an uphill challenge. Now the issue will be finding a way out of what can become a losing mentality.
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Even with Weber the Canadiens failed on their three power play opportunities and failed to come close. They fall to 14.4% success ratio for the season. Only Chicago is worse.
….After a good night against Boston Victor Mete was minus-2 on the night. There are times I think it would be better for his overall development if he spent some time with Laval. Mete was a spectator as Victor Rask deflected the puck on the first Carolina goal and the winning goal was scored off his skate. That said he remains the Canadiens plus/minus leader at plus-5 which may indicate the up and down nature of his game in his second NHL season.
….Artturi Lehkonen had four more shots on goal with no result. A couple of them were good scoring chances. Offence has left his game which when all is said and done, makes him a fourth liner at best.
….Jeff Petry and Jonathan Drouin led the Canadiens with five shots on goal. Once again we had the good Drouin and then the Drouin who was attempting to do too much on his own and wound up turning the puck over.
….The Canadiens best forwards were again Brendan Gallagher and Andrew Shaw. I’m tempted to throw Nicolas Deslauriers into that mix despite his 8:57 of ice time. Max Domi had the tying goal on his stick with a minute left and hit the cross bar.
….The Canadiens were 50% in faceoffs which is good for them. Danault won 9 of 16 (60%)
The Canadiens will play back-to-back games against the Rangers and San Jose Saturday, Sunday and then play host to Ottawa on Tuesday to wrap up a five game home stand. Then it’s three in a row on the road at Ottawa, Chicago and Minnesota.