Habs Look to String Wins Together, Get One in Carolina
Coming into tonight’s head-to-head with the Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens hadn’t put two of anything together since the Western road trip that saw them beat the Coyotes and Predators two weeks ago. And it stopped there.
In the first period of this game, a significant portion of Habs’ fans had their eyes on the Bruins/Sabres rematch, and it was difficult to blame them. Jiri Tlusty opened the scoring within the first minute of the game and Anthony Stewart made it 2-0 for the Hurricanes at the 6-minute mark. For the remainder of the opening frame, the Canadiens’ response was to aimlessly move the puck ahead only to see any maneuverable space around them diminish as time wore on. They did, however, manage to outshoot their opponents 7-5 (shots including iron notwithstanding).
Then the second period opened with what was supposed to have been a Canadiens’ power play. Instead, the Hurricanes ended up with multiple scoring chances of their own and the Habs failed to properly install themselves in the offensive zone. To add insult to injury, the last 35 seconds of the so-called man advantage were erased by a Max Pacioretty obstruction penalty.
Yet the next power play was much more promising—and this time it was Carolina’s. Lars Eller, who up until this opportunity had inexplicably found himself positioned as a fourth-line winger, pounced on a Cam Ward rebound that resulted in a Raphael Diaz shot from the point.
Montreal and Carolina exchanged quick goals to open the third. Mike Cammalleri tied the game at 2 just 27 seconds into the period before Brandon Sutter’s skate fooled Carey Price just moments later. Then Travis Moen, whose season was denounced before it began by a piece of plastic, scored his 7th goal of the season. Eller and Yannick Weber picked up the assists. Moen, who had two other scoring chances tonight, is now 4 away from his personal best and already has one more goal than he did last season.
Meanwhile, the disappearance of Scott Gomez from the Canadiens’ bench was another subject of discussion in the third period. After the game, it was reported by RDS’ Renaud Lavoie that he is suffering from a lower-body injury and his status is day-to-day.
At least four different Habs hit the posts in this game. Aside from those, the two teams were dead even at 31 shots apiece after three periods. Overtime saw the play move significantly to the Canadiens’ side, followed by the Hurricanes hitting a post of their own. Then former ‘Cane Erik Cole dished a slick pass to Habs’ captain Brian Gionta, who was just as swiftly denied by Cam Ward.
Gionta would come back to haunt the Hurricanes later, as Carolina elected to let Montreal go first in the shootout. Mike Cammalleri and Max Pacioretty would both fail to score, as did Chad LaRose and Jeff Skinner. Then Gionta found the back of the net off a nifty play to which Jussi Jokinen could not respond for his squad, and the final score became 4-3 in favour of the Canadiens.
Carey Price has a shootout win under his belt, as he and the Habs look to build on this back-and-forth affair with something akin to the ever-elusive consistency they have sought out this season. Now they have an afternoon date with the Philadelphia Flyers to look forward to on Friday before returning home for the already-infamous calendar highlight: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby’s visit to the Bell Centre.
★Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens (1G, 1A, +2, 12:54 TOI, 2 SOG)
★★Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (30 SV, .909 SV%, 3/3 in shootout)
★★★Brandon Sutter, Carolina Hurricanes (1G, 1A, +1, 16:38 TOI, 6 SOG)
Shots on Goal