After a disappointing overtime loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night, the Canadiens continued their homestand on Thursday against the New York Islanders. There would be no overtime on this night, as the Canadiens would eventually run away with the game in the third.
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The first period was tightly checked by both squads, and while there were a few chances at either end, there wasn't a whole lot in the way of quality scoring chances. Mike Condon, and former Hab Jaroslav Halak were there when they were needed, but neither was overly tested throughout the frame.
A late Habs powerplay would put an end to all of that. P.K. Subban found Jeff Petry at the point with a nifty saucer pass, and the latter found none other than Dale Weise, who redirected in his eighth goal of the season. It has been an unreal start to the season for Weise, who took the team lead in goals with that tally, and one has to wonder when - and if - he'll come back down to earth.
Less than five minutes into the second, the Isles would tie it up. Kyle Okposo caught the Canadiens defense sleeping, cut untouched towards the high slot, and fired a quick shot through Mike Condon on the short side. It was a shot Condon probably stops more often than not, but it is hard to find fault in him with the way Okposo was allowed to walk into the zone.
Following the Okposo goal, the game returned right back to the tight-checking style of play reminiscent of most of the first period. That was of course until Tomas Fleischmann grabbed a puck that bounced off a linesman, walked in for a two-on-one with David Desharnais, and fed his pivot in the slot to put the Habs back on top 2-1.
That seemed to wake the Habs up, as Brendan Gallagher would get into the action very shortly after the Desharnais goal. Max Pacioretty may be struggling the last few games to put the puck in the net, but his shot found it's way to Gallagher's stick, and he finished the job by redirecting it past Halak to take a two goal lead.
Tomas Plekanec would add an insurance marker into an empty Islanders net, as the Canadiens rode a three goal third period straight to another two points.
- The trio of Weise, Desharnais, and Fleischmann may have contributed two goals, but they didn't fare so well in the possession department. As a unit they controlled well short of 50% even strength shot attempts, so it would be more accurate to call them opportunistic than dominant on this night.
- A lot has been said about Max Pacioretty "struggling" as of late. He only managed an assist last night, and his line with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher controlled over 70% of even strength shot attempts while they were on the ice. The kicker? They did so while starting a large majority of their shifts in the defensive zone. There is no struggle there, just a lack of shooting luck.
- Much has also been made about how Alex Galchenyuk's line has struggled. Well, he, Lars Eller and Paul Byron were also controlling over 50% of shot attempts at even strength, so I would again say that there is not a problem, and that they are likely to have a reversal of luck at some point.
- Time for some P.K. Subban love as well. When he was on the ice last night, the Canadiens controlled exactly 60.87% of even strength shot attempts. His saucer pass to Jeff Petry that set up the Weise goal in the first was absolutely sublime. He was on top of his game, it showed, and it passed the eye test as well as it did the numbers test.
- Mike Condon was absolutely fantastic. One could make a case that he should have stopped the Okposo goal, and he didn't have a ton of work, but the Isles pushed in the third and he made some remarkable saves. As backups to Carey Price go, the Canadiens seem to have found themselves an extremely good one.