GAME #64 – PRICE & ARMIA STAR – Canadiens-4 NY Rangers-2 (Mar. 2, 2019)

Mar 2nd, 2019 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

The Canadiens had two days to enjoy the bright lights of Broadway and it took over a period for them to shake the lead out of their hockey pants and finally get control of their game against the Rangers Friday night.

The rebuilding Rangers, who have almost as much built-in speed as the Canadiens, forechecked them to a near standstill in the first period and then held a 7-0 shots-on-goal advantage in the second period before Brendan Gallagher changed the course of the game with his goal in the eighth minute. From that point on the roles reversed. It was the Canadiens who took control in the Rangers end of the ice and they skated away with their comeback 4-2 win.

THE SAVIOUR

The Canadiens outshot the Rangers 11-9 in the first period. That would seem to indicate a closely-contested game.

It was anything but. The scoring chances favoured the Rangers 13-4 and high danger chances 7-3. It was all Carey Price who was other-worldly not only in the first period but early in the second. Vladimir Namestnikov scored on a deflection and posted another three other grade-A chances plus one more early in the second. Without Price it could easily have been 4-0 by the time the game was twenty-five minutes old. And that glove save he made on Pavel Buchnevich two minutes after the Canadiens tied the game shouldn’t be forgotten either.

GAME CHANGER

How many times has Brendan Gallagher either established momentum or changed it with one of his goals? No question Gallagher’s goal at 7:27 of the second period turned this game around. At the time they Canadiens were being outshot 7-0 in the period. Inspired by Gallagher’s goal the Canadiens subsequently poured eighteen shots on Henrik Lundqvist through the final twelve minutes of the period and took the lead. Gallagher now has twenty-eight goals. Twenty-four of them are 5-on-5, which puts him fourth in the league. Give Tomas Tatar credit for a perfectly timed pass to set up Gallagher on the goal.

FINDING THE NET

It was buried under the weight of the Andrew Shaw‘s hat-trick performance but I thought Joel Armia had a really good game in Detroit on Tuesday. There was no ignoring him in this game. Like Shaw, the Armia hat trick was a career first (actually his first as a pro on any level). He took advantage of a bad bounce off the back boards to score what proved to be the game winner in the second period. On his second he used his strength to hold off Brady Skjei to get to the net. His third goal was into the empty net.

And now Armia is a ten goal scorer. Although I thought his centreman Jesperi Kotkaniemi has had better nights, I think the addition of Paul Byron (or the subtraction of Artturi Lehkonen) has changed the dynamics of the line for the better.

WHAT IT MEANS

It was a big win on the eve of their four-point game against Pittsburgh Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The Penguins lost to Buffalo in overtime Friday night while Carolina was winning for the thirteenth time in their last seventeen games. Carolina is third in the Metropolitan Division a point ahead of the Canadiens who remain in the first wild-card berth. Columbus and Pittsburgh are tied two points behind the Canadiens but Columbus has the second wild card berth because of wins.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

….Since he served that one game post All-Star game suspension Carey Price has been in thirteen consecutive games – once in relief of Antti Niemi. In eight of those games he has allowed two goals or fewer. During the stretch he has a .924 save percentage and a 2.56 GAA. If he starts Saturday night against Pittsburgh it will be the fourth time this season he will play in both ends of a back-to-back series.

….The last time the Canadiens produced hat-trick performances in back to back games was December 2008 – Andrei Kostitsyn and Maxim Lapierre.

….From the deep stats – the Rangers had 52.94% of the shooting attempts (Corsi). They also led the high danger scoring attempts 13-12.

….Gallagher led the Canadiens with six shots on goal.

….I thought the fourth line (Thompson/Lehkonen/Weise) had a useful night. Lehkonen had three good scoring chances but again came up empty.

….Christian Folin again played a steady game (paired with Victor Mete) and picked up his second assist.

….Shea Weber is probably playing hurt but it hasn’t affected his shot. Five of his seven shooting attempts were on target. He also led the Canadiens with five blocked shots.

….Led by Nate Thompson, the Canadiens won 63% of the faceoffs. Thompson won eight of eleven (73%).

….Nothing on the power play again in 2:22 of advantage time and three shots. The Canadiens have one PPG in their last 21 opportunities.

MOVING ON

Pittsburgh Saturday night. If the Canadiens win in regulation time they put four points distance on them. If Pittsburgh wins, although tied they would trail the Canadiens because of wins.

It’s back on the road next week for the dreaded annual California trip to Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim. In fifteen California games over the last five seasons the Canadiens have one shootout win. They have lost eleven straight in San Jose dating back to 1999.

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