Outplayed by the NHL’s worst team for long stretches, somehow they managed to squeeze out a 3-2 victory after blowing a 2-0 first period lead. Tomas Tatar‘s 13th goal of the season won it with 77 seconds remaining in the third period. Max Domi and Shea Weber also scored for the Canadiens. Patrick Kane got both Chicago goals. The Canadiens were outshot 39-28. It was the Canadiens third straight win, the last two on the road.
With the score tied 2-2 the Canadiens spent half of the third period shorthanded including six straight minutes after Tatar was hit with his third penalty of the game and then, as he was stepping back on the ice Jordie Benn received four minutes for high sticking. The Canadiens killed all of that. In all the Hawks had eight power plays in the game and managed to score once.
It’s a hockey-given that the goaltender is a team’s most important penalty killer. Carey Price was all of that and more. Of his 37 saves in the game, 14 came while the Canadiens were killing off penalties including 12 in the third period as Price was keeping his teammates in a 2-2 game. We’ve been looking for that one game that Price won by himself. This was it.
Third straight win for the Canadiens and Price has been a major factor in all three.
The Canadiens fourth line has only become effective since Michael Chaput was brought in from Laval. Chaput really had his work cut out in this game as Claude Julien made him his go-to on the penalty kill. Chaput was on the ice for nearly half (4:50) of those ten minutes the Canadiens were shorthanded in the third period. Ultimately his penalty killing icetime (7:32) was more than half of his total ice time for the game (14:10). On top of that his line contributed to the Weber goal in the first period.
Shea Weber scored his third goal in his sixth game since missing almost a year. He also recorded five shots on goal and three hits. The goal was another of his quick release bombs. One of his third period hits sent big Artem Anisimov to the dressing room under concussion protocol. He didn’t return. It’s not certain whether it’s cause and effect but Brett Kulak is finding a new confident level to his play since being paired with Weber.
….This game featured the two worst power plays in the league and it showed. With the 0-for-4 night the Canadiens PP is now producing at 13.6 rate which is 30th in the league. Chicago is 31st.
….It’s not only Chaput who’s turned the Canadiens fourth line around. Kenny Agostino, who was an early cut from training camp, has come up from Laval to become a significant addition as well. He drew the first assist on the Weber goal that gave the Canadiens their 2-0 first period lead. It should be mentioned that only two years ago Agostino was the American Hockey League’s scoring champion and MVP.
….Jesperi Kotkaniemi led the Canadiens with six shots on goal. Although he’s not piling up goals, he has points in three straight games. He started the play that led to the game winning goal sending the puck back to Petry for the shot that was deflected home by Tatar.
….I keep asking myself if Kotkaniemi and the Canadiens wouldn’t be better off if he replaced Phillip Danault on the line with Gallagher and Tatar. Once again Danault’s offence was non-existent.
….Tatar came to the Canadiens with a reputation for taking nights off in the past. In his 30th game he finally had one of those nights. It was redeemed by the game winning goal on the tip-in of the Petry shot. Earlier he had taken three bad penalties. His goal was only his second shot of the game.
….Another one of those difficult games for Mike Reilly which led to a third period benching. As a result he’ll probably sit out Tuesday’s game with Noah Juulsen returning.
….The Canadiens record after 30 games is 15-10-5 for 35 points. Last year they were 13-13-4 for 30 points at this stage but were about to lose seven of their next ten games.
The Canadiens will get the day off in St. Paul Minnesota Monday before playing the Wild to end their three game road trip. They return home to face Carolina Thursday, their final meeting of the season against Ottawa on Saturday and Boston on Monday. Then it’s the annual six game holiday road trip while the Cirque du Soleil takes over the Bell Centre.