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GAME #82 – A MAGICAL SEASON FINALE – Canadiens-6 Toronto-5 (Shootout) April 6, 2019

It was a game in which neither team had anything to gain or lose. It turned out to be something very special.Two weeks from his college team being eliminated in the NCAA playoffs, 2017 first round draft choice Ryan Poehling played not only his first NHL game, but his first game as a professional. It was something to behold.With the Canadiens trailing 2-0 midway through the first period, Poehling fearlessly drove to the crease and somehow managed to force a pass out from Jordan Weal past Federik Andersen. It was challenged of course. That’s what what Mike Babcock does. First NHL goal on his first shot on goal and it brought the Bell Centre house down.

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GAME #81 – ON THE ELIMINATION PRECIPICE – Washington-2 Canadiens-1 (April 4, 2019)

The Canadiens put themselves in a nearly impossible position when they managed only one of a possible four points in those two earlier games against Columbus and Carolina. Left in a nearly impossible situation all Thursday night’s loss in Washington did was drive the penultimate nail into the coffin of their season. In their final two games, all Columbus will nedd is a single point out of their games at New York against the 26th overall Rangers Friday night or Saturday’s game against the league’s worst team in Ottawa. Friday night’s game in Washington was a microcosm of the Canadiens season. They dominated early. Should have had a two or three goal lead at the end of the first period but skated off in a 1-1 tie. Ultimately the Canadiens led every offensive statistic in the game including 61.4% of the shot attempts and 73.8% of the high danger scoring chances. And as we have seen time and again this season, their inability to score the critical goal eluded them and they lost the game.

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GAME #80 – GAME OF THE YEAR – Canadiens-4 Tampa Bay-2 (April 2, 2019)

Talk about saving your best for last. It was the Canadiens most complete game of the year during their most important stretch of games of the year.Granted, with the playoffs looming the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t have their eye on the prize Tuesday night, but they weren’t so much off their game as to subject to the kind domination the Canadiens presented. There was no area of the ice that the Canadiens didn’t excel. They controlled two-thirds of the game’s puck possession while outshooting Tampa 45-24. It actual shooting attempts it was 92-52 against the NHL’s best offensive machine.

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GAME #79 – STAYIN’ ALIVE – Canadiens-3 Winnipeg-1 (March 30, 2019)

After Saturday night’s game in Winnipeg you ask yourself why the Canadiens couldn’t have played as well against Columbus as they did against the Jets. A better question might be why Winnipeg could play so badly considering their tentative hold on first place in the Central Division. But for a brief stretch after the Jets made it a one-goal game with eight minutes remaining, the Canadiens had total ownership of a team that is vastly more talented than they are. That said, when the Canadiens are skating and implementing Claude Julien’s stifling defensive game to it’s fullest, they can be very hard to get around. Consider this as one of those ‘perfect road games’ to which we often refer.

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GAME #78 – DEATH KNELL – Columbus-6 Canadiens-2 (March 28, 2019)

It is a question that’s been asked around Montreal for the last decade.It goes like this. “Which is better? A small but very fast team or a team with size and speed?” The answer from any NHL coach would be the latter, especially heading into the playoffs, or in the case of Thursday night’s game in Columbus, a game that could decide playoff berth.  You would not be far off in blaming size as the key factor in the Canadiens 6-2 loss.  Size, and a failure to play the game away from the boards, where the Blue Jackets were guaranteed to dominate.  

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