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The Canadiens needed 3 games to do it, but they finally beat the Leafs, and they beat them badly.
After the ridiculous loss against the Senators where the Canadiens owned the puck for more than two thirds of the game, you can't blame Habs fans for being a little nervous after Travis Moen knocked a puck past Price that ended up being credited to Frazer McLaren. I'm not exactly sure what Moen thought he was doing, but it didn't work out.
Moen got back in the good books later in the first though, helping Colby Armstrong set up a goal from the blueline by Alexei Emelin. Watching Colby Armstrong get a point against Toronto while they're paying him more this season than the Habs are was pretty funny.
The Canadiens owned the puck all game, and like the game against Ottawa, it looked like they weren't being rewarded for it. Even after the 5 minute major to Mike Brown, the Maple Leafs found a way to make another shot count and tie the game at two.
After 40 minutes the shots were 28-12 in favour of the Habs, and in the third period, things started to regress to the mean. Tyler Bozak messed up a faceoff in the Leafs' zone, then complained to the ref about it instead of playing the game. During his whining David Desharnais won the faceoff back to Josh Gorges, who wired a shot on net that Brendan Gallagher tipped in. The goal was Gallagher's 6th of the year, putting him into a tie for 3rd among rookies in the NHL.
Gallagher's play is probably the big surprise of the season for the Habs, and it likely made Erik Cole tradeable in the long term. Not only is Gallagher a spark plug who refuses to be intimidated, he's a shot machine. Last year Max Pacioretty was shooting at the obscene rate of 12.19 shots per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. Brendan Gallagher is shooting at 12.01/60. As a 20 year old rookie. That is absolutely nuts. Erik Cole last year was second on the team with 9.33 shots per 60, to give you an idea of how often Gallagher gets the puck on net.
Pacioretty by the way, is shooting slightly less often this year (10.17/60), maybe due to the injuries he sustained early on. Last night though, he was lights out. I mentioned in the top 6 minutes how often Pacioretty was shooting, and his play gave TSN the easy headline of "biting back".
Pacioretty's second goal of the game was an absolute snipe on Ben Scrivens, very similar to the one he scored against Scrivens in the final game of the season in 2011-12.
Before the game, former Leaf and current loud mouth, Jeff O'Neill commented that the Habs didn't have anyone on their roster as talented as Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk. Those two combined for fewer shots than Max Pacioretty and a -8 rating.
Outside of Pacioretty and Gallagher, the most dominant player on the ice for the Canadiens was Andrei Markov. Markov has been struggling with the top minutes a bit as of late, so it was nice to see him get back on the positive side of the leger at even strength. He still doesn't have a point outside of the powerplay somehow, but it's coming.
Interestingly enough, Francis Bouillon had his first negative possession game in quite a long time last night. I wonder what changed? Oh right, he wasn't playing with P.K. Subban.
Subban started the game with Josh Gorges, but it seemed like Therrien decided it was more important to protect Tomas Kaberle with Subban than to have a legitimate second pairing. The loss of Raphael Diaz on the blueline results in the 3rd pairing being a bit of a mess.
Kaberle wasn't terrible on the night, probably because he mostly played with Subban, but I would rather see Yannick Weber in the lineup at this point. I think Weber is better on the PP, and that way every defenseman can play their natural side, instead of forcing one of Bouillon or Kaberle to play the right side.
For reaction from the losing side (for once) check out Pension Plan Puppets.