Let's take a moment to realize how far this team has come. From last place in the Eastern conference, to clinching home ice advantage in the playoffs. As I said last night, it's just the second time the Montreal Canadiens will head into the playoffs with home ice advantage since 1991-92. Think about that for a minute. The second time in 20 seasons for the winningest franchise in the sport's history.
The last streak of 6 games where the Canadiens' defense failed and the goaltending didn't help has managed to shake the confidence of many Habs fans. The way the Canadiens reacted on the ice, maybe it shook their confidence as well.
The last few games I had noticed that the Canadiens were playing pretty well with the score tied, but collapsed if they gave up the first goal. Usually this collapse lasted an entire period. After giving up the first goal against the Jets, the Habs collapsed in this game too. But something was different, because it only lasted one shift.
The Canadiens rallied, and they took it to the Jets for the rest of the game.
Even with possession dominance and a resurgent Carey Price, the Canadiens took until the third period to make the game theirs on the scoreboard. Before Ondrej Pavelec pulled a Pavelec on a Brendan Gallagher long bomb, the outcome of the game was still in doubt.
From there though, it was pretty clear that the Canadiens were going to win this one. Once again though, the Jets helped them out. after taking just one penalty in the first 40, the Jets came unglued in the third period and gave the Habs three straight powerplays. On a 5-on-3 caused by a too many men on the ice penalty, David Desharnais capitalized for the game winner off of a brilliant play by P.K. Subban.
Unlike so much of what has happened over the last stretch of play, things broke for the Canadiens last night. A sign of things changing? Andrei Markov was a plus player (+1) for the first time since March 30th, a period of 13 games.
Also positive: Jarred Tinordi played a very solid 15:40, registering an assist and a +1 rating, and a team leading 7 hits. Tinordi was asked by Michel Therrien to be a physical presence, and he took that to heart.
The question for me becomes whether the Canadiens are better off with both Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu in the lineup over Francis Bouillon. Considering Bouillon's play on both goals against, it's an open question.
Interesting note: The Habs are 6-0-0 against Winnipeg with Subban in the lineup, 0-1-0 without him. Thanks Cunneyworth.