GAME #75 – DOMI & GALLAGHER LEAD THE WAY – Canadiens-7 Buffalo-4 (March 23, 2019)

Mar 24th, 2019 | By | Category: Canadiens, Canadiens Game Story, Latest News

Funny how it goes sometimes.

NHL coaching staffs spend the season’s first seventy games drumming into their players how to do things ‘the right way’ and then when it comes to a critical game in the playoff race all of those drills are forgotten and we end up with a run-and-gun track meet.

But it all turned out well and good in the end. The Canadiens outlasted the Buffalo Sabres 7-4 for their third straight win and with that moved three points ahead of Columbus in the continuing race for the East’s final playoff berth.

How crazy was this? Buffalo scored the first goal. The Canadiens scored three in a row. Buffalo came back with two to tie it. The Canadiens added two more but Andrew Shaw‘s bad penalty allowed Buffalo to make it a one goal game before a late goal and an empty netter ended it.

Everyone in Montreal will take it. No complaints.

MAX-IMUM

Turning a speedster like Max Domi out against a team that is having serious defensive issues can produce spectacular results. On the Canadiens first goal, Domi stole the puck, spun and slid a backhand pass over to Shaw who then hit the diving Artturi Lehkonen for the tip in. Doesn’t get much sweeter than that

On Montreal’s third goal he created the turnover near his own blue line and sped away down the left boards before hitting Shaw in the slot. 3-0.

And it was Domi who cinched this game. Two minutes after the Sabres closed it to 4-3, he used Gallagher as a screen for his 26th goal. Those were just the highlights of dominant night. He and his linemates Shaw and Lehkonen produced six high danger scoring chances and controlled 66 percent of the shooting attempts while they were on the ice.

THE ENGINE

We spend a lot of time extolling Brendan Gallagher‘s many nightly virtues, often leaving his centre in the shadows. Danault carved his own space in this game especially on the forecheck. Danault was one of the best parts of what was one of those slow first period Canadiens starts. On the Canadiens second goal, Danault beat Rasmus Dahlin in the corner and while falling poked the puck out to Gallagher for his career high 32nd goal.

If the Domi line was great, led by Gallagher’s nine shots on goal and six high danger scoring chances, the Danault line was close to it’s equal controlling 66% of the game’s shooting attempts. It’s still the only unit that seems immune to Claude Julien‘s line juggling.

FINDING A HOME

Thompson/Weal/Byron is another line that isn’t likely to be broken up between now and the end of the season. While the other forward lines may have had issues, the fourth line did things the right way. They’re not only giving Julien the strong defensive minutes he wants but also offence we haven’t seen from a fourth unit in a couple of years. Thompson showed a burst of speed around the outside of the defense that led to a second period scoring chance. He then set up Weal for the shot that caromed off Byron’s skate for the Canadiens fourth goal. Five-on-five the Thompson line was second in minutes only to the Danault line. I have no idea how long their chemistry will last but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Peca, Deslauriers, Hudon or Weise to return to the lineup anytime soon.

NO SIGN OF REDEMPTION

Once again Jonathan Drouin drew the fewest minutes of any member of the Canadiens. His penchant for stickhandling his way right into a check cost the Buffalo’s third goal. Drouin was well into his solo stickhandling act before he was easily stripped of the puck by Kyle Okposo inside the Buffalo line. He followed that by making a halfhearted backchecking effort as Marco Scandella tied the game at 3-3. Failing to register a point in his 42nd of 74 games this season, Drouin finished the night with one unremarkable shot on goal. He is pretty much leaving linemates Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia to fend for themselves at both ends of the ice. Judging by ice time, Drouin seems to be dragging the Kotkaniemi and Armia down to fourth line status.

ALSO WORTH MENTIONING

….Two goals for Gallagher gives him a career high 33 with seven games remaining. Twenty-eight of his goals have come at even strength which puts him a goal away from the league lead. His nine shots on goal equaled a season high.

….Carey Price is 8-0-1 his last nine starts at the Bell Centre. His last home loss was January 7th vs. Minnesota. Over the nine game stretch he has allowed 17 goals – 1.89 per game.

….Tomas Tatar played in his 500th regular season game and recorded an empty net goal and two assists. Domi and Gallagher also had three point nights.

….The goal by Lehkonen was the 22,000th in Canadiens history including NHL the earlier NHA days.

…..The assist on the Lehkonen goal was the 200th point of Domi‘s career.

….Including his five vs. Buffalo Shea Weber has produced 16 shots on goal his last three games during which he has 2 goals and an assist.

….After a two week slump, for the third consecutive game the Weber/Mete pairing had a strong night. Weber was plus-2 while Mete finished plus-4. Mete again was moving the puck extremely well.

….Shaw lost his cool after taking an elbow to the head from Scandella midway through the third period. He retaliated by charging Evan Rodrigues and drew a four minute penalty which led to the Sabres fourth goal. Shaw went to the dressing room after serving the penalty, presumably for concussion protocol.

….The Canadiens held an 18-4 game advantage in five-on-five high danger scoring chances including 10-1 in the second period.

MOVING ON

The final of the fourteen back-to-back games this season Sunday night with a four point game at Carolina. Also Sunday night, Columbus will try to snap an three game losing streak at Vancouver. Carolina beat Minnesota at home Saturday night still holds won the first wild card berth two points ahead of the Canadiens with a game in hand. Columbus now is three points behind Montreal – also with a game in hand.

The Canadiens will return to play Florida at the Bell Centre Tuesday.

One Comment to “GAME #75 – DOMI & GALLAGHER LEAD THE WAY – Canadiens-7 Buffalo-4 (March 23, 2019)”

  1. Ned Stark, Warden of the North says:

    So Thursday vs Isles the mighty Jonny Drouin had 2 pts(1G, 1A) so it was time for him to sit back and relax because the pressure was now off him for another week or so. Well vs Buffalo he should have got the 1st Star for doing F#ck All. He did set up and got an assist on the Sabres 3rd goal with his trademark turnover just inside the blueline while his Linemates are driving to the net. And of course once he gave it away he tried to back check the puck carrier with 2 weak slashes on the shin guards. Then he was exhausted and stopped on a dime. Both K2 and Armia did their best to get back – both actually reached our zone before Drouin did. I was once again livid at this POS💩 Called Drouin. To see him back in the line-up tonite vs a Canes is thoroughly disgusting. I’m not sure if Julien is scared to bench him or not. But he needs to do something. The 3 other lines are playing very well together. You can’t insert Drouin onto any of them because he kills their momentum. It’s unfair to leave him with K2 and Armia. Those 2 are giving everything they have including dragging that anchor Drouin with them. But this do nothing and let him continue to dress and play is not the answer. Every other Habs player is made accountable for their on/off work but not #92.

    This team brought in former QHL Coach Ducharme who once coached Drouin to get him to bring more to his game ie: to score and put up more points. Drouin is on pace to maybe reach 60 pts. He will at least reach his previous high in pts (53) in last season in Tampa. But of course he regressed last year as he was having to get comfortable playing “again” in Quebec -> read BS! Drouin gets all the ice time on 1st or 2nd line and 1st PP unit for much of his time in Montreal. During the recent West Coast trip he was demoted to the 3rd line. He took this as expected by sulking for many of the games since.

    So for 2 seasons we’ve had to tolerate this player who on any other team would have been pulled from the lineup and either scratched or demoted to the AHL until they proved their worth that they were ready to be back in the line-up. The continuation of putting Drouin on a pedestal with no accountability has to end. Extra resources were brought in to be of direct help to him and improving his game. Instead he has rewarded the team with indifference in his play. Nothing has been done to get him to recognize his faults and to change his habits to benefit his game. He did this in Tampa and disrespected both the Tampa Coach Jon Cooper and GM Stevie Y. They looked at their roster fairly and were comfortable that they were a better team without him than with him. Bergy decided he needed something to get the press off his ass and provide them with a young French Canadian player. So he had faults…….well they can be overlooked and so Bergy did just that.
    Well now he has to admit rewarding Drouin with that silly contract was a mistake as was trading the team’s top prospect for him was another mistake. Bottom line he needs to be moved prior to this year’s draft. The team will be much better off without Drouin.

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