Importantly, it was a nice bounce-back from the 7-1 thrashing they suffered at Minnesota on Tuesday with a major contribution from the so-called secondary players.
On the other hand, despite a decided edge in shots on goal and territorial play the Canadiens could never get complete control over the comeback-minded Hurricanes which led to a tense but entertaining goal-filled third period.
OUT OF THE PRESS BOX
Both forward Matthew Peca and defenceman Mike Reilly watched the Minnesota debacle from the press box on Thursday. Claude Julien put them back in the lineup against the Hurricanes and each played a significant role in the game’s outcome.
At a point when it seemed the Canadiens were never going to score, Peca took a pass from Michael Chaput, spun and fired from the high slot past Petr Mrazek to tie the game at 1-1.
Reilly was slotted next to Jeff Petry. He didn’t pick up a point in the game but he finished the night with five shots on goal off nine attempts. According to the Corsi numbers the Canadiens had the puck 66% of the time while O’Reilly was on the ice. It would be nice if he could carry that to the next game without his periodic defensive lapses.
Fans seem to be mixed about what Jeff Petry contributes to the Canadiens but it’s hard to argue his ability to move the puck and involve himself in the offence which mitigates any mistake he might make in his own end.
Petry’s goal gave the Canadiens the 2-1 lead in the second period. His second goal was a slow motion empty netter.
A common complaint about Petry is his lack of shooting accuracy. In this game he was right on. Seven shots on goal of eight attempts. I don’t know whether you”ve noticed but Petry now has five goals and two assists in his last six games, all of this coming since the focus was taken off him upon the Weber return.
NOT SO GREAT
Shea Weber and Brett Kulak had an up and down night. Yes, Weber made a good play jumping up on a two-on-one to set up Andrew Shaw on the winning goal, but he was also badly beaten to the outside by Andrei Svechnikov for the Hurricanes first goal. Weber may be feeling the effects of 26 minutes in each of his games since his return.
As Weber goes, so goes Kulak who had some issues in his own end. It should be noted that this is the first time when his defensive issues have stood out since his recall from Laval.
It wasn’t the goals Carey Price allowed (4), it was the ones he didn’t. The Hurricanes had 19 scoring chances, including eleven listed by NaturalStatTrick as highly dangerous. There were a few that could be singled out but I want to point to a sequence in the second period. Matthew Peca had just tied the game. Four minutes later Price made a spectacular save off Justin Williams breakaway backhand and then had to be even better to stop Clark Bishop on the rebound. Thirty seconds later Petry scored the goal that gave the Canadiens a lead that they didn’t relinquish the rest of the game. The big, game-changing save had been missing in Price’s game for over a year. Off what we’ve seen in this month, it’s increasing safe to day it’s back.
If the Canadiens had any semblance of a power play the Canadiens might have put this game away early. The latest adjustment was placing Petry on the point with Weber on the first unit. On paper it looked good. In reality nothing improved. The power play still lacks-decision making crispness. 0-for-6 in this game. 0-for-18 over the last six games dating back to the Ranger game on December first. The power play is now at 12.7%.
….With his goal, Andrew Shaw extended his points streak to six games – 2 goals, 4 assists. He now has nine goals and 19 points in 27 games. Nobody expected that at training camp.
….Just when we were wondering if he was going to be an offensive bust, Artturi Lehkonen has found his touch. He used his speed to race around defenceman Calvin de Haan to give the Canadiens a 4-2 lead early in the third. After scoring only two goals in the season’s first 24 games he has 4 goals and 6 points in his last eight.
….I continue to be impressed with the work ethic of Kenny Agostino. He forced the turnover that led to Peca’s game opening goal and it was his pass interception that started the play that led to the Lehkonen goal. A two assist night giving him four in his last five game, all as part of the fourth line.
….Carolina’s opening goal was the fifth time this season opponents have scored a goal on the Canadiens while the teams were playing 4-on-4. The Canadiens have yet to score a 4-on-4 goal.
The Canadiens will complete their season series with the Ottawa Senators Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens have won two of the three meetings to date. The Canadiens host the Bruins Monday in what will be their final home game of the year. The last six games of the month will be on the road starting with Colorado, Arizona and Las Vegas Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of next week.