The headliners were Phillip Danault who registered his first career hat trick and Paul Byron who won it in overtime.
There were six goals scored in regulation time in this game. Danault was on the ice for all six of them meaning, despite his three goals he wound up even in the plus/minus stats. The Canadiens will take it even if Danault wasn’t happy with his defensive work on the first two Vegas goals.
Danault’s first goal was a hard one-timer off Brendan Gallagher‘s feed. His second goal was a deflection of Jordie Benn‘s shot that needed a long review for a high stick. And his third goal was the result of a goalmouth battle that saw Danault hit the post before he could push it over the line with 1:25 remaining. Three goals scored three different ways. The biggest day of his NHL career.
A frustrating night for Paul Byron wound up in success. Byron was stopped on a breakaway midway through the first period which might have given the Canadiens a 2-0 lead. Late in the second period he deflected Mike Reilly‘s shot right past the open net through the crease. In the overtime he beat the Vegas defence to take Max Domi‘s pass. It was his second game-winning goal in two games and his third of the season.
In his third game since being re-called from Laval, Victor Mete was finally paired with Shea Weber. It worked out really well. Mete showed no hesitation involving himself in the offense while handling himself well in his own end. Julien liked his work enough that he had Mete on the ice for the 3-on-3 overtime and he drew second assist on the Byron game-winner. Mete finished plus-2. Another game like this and we might be able to say the Canadiens have finally found a partner for Weber.
Max Domi’s season had run into a flat spot over the last two weeks but he was excellent when it counted in this game drawing first assists on the tying and game-winning goals. With the extra attacker he put the puck into traffic in front of the Vegas goal where Danault could get his stick on it. In the overtime, his timing was perfect on the pass to Byron. Domi also posted five shots on goal.
Carey Price appeared in his 14th consecutive game, thirteen of which were starts. There might be some outside griping about the Vegas second goal which came off the inside of his pad and through the five hole but it did come on a clear breakaway. .
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….After stinking the Bell Centre out on Monday night the Canadiens came back with three solid road games in four days, winning two of them.
….This was the Canadiens first win in overtime this season. The Canadiens had failed to score a goal in extra time in seventeen overtime games dating back to December 14th of last season.
….According to naturalstattrick.com the Canadiens led the game in high danger scoring chances 23-16 and had 61.59% of puck possession, most of that coming in through the second half of the game.
….The Canadiens record at the Christmas break is 19-13-5 for 43 points. Last season at the break the were 16-16-4. The Canadiens will go to the break holding down the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
The Canadiens flew home right after the game. They’ll be getting four days off through Christmas day before they fly to Florida to start the second half of their six game road trip. They’ll play at Sunrise next Friday and Tampa on Saturday before wrapping the trip and the calendar-year in Dallas New Year’s Eve.