1. Strong first period
The Canadiens torpedoed out of the gates at the Honda Center in Anaheim and didn’t give the Ducks a whole lot of breathing room for the first 16 minutes of the first period, where they controlled the pace of the game. The Habs used their tremendous speed to make Anaheim look like a team standing still, keeping them hemmed in their zone for shifts at a time as they won puck battles and held the blue line. All four lines were buzzing, generating seven shots in the first three minutes alone (0 for the Ducks). They returned to the dressing room with 17 shots in 20 minutes, and if they can maintain their pace over the course of this road trip, they’ll hopefully come out relatively unscathed.
2. And then… The tables turned in the second period
The Habs had 10 shots in 10 minutes in the first period, and though they controlled the pace of the game for 80 percent of the first, they ended up forfeiting the first goal on a Shea Weber penalty at the tail end of the first. They slowed down considerably to start the second period, allowing Anaheim to pour on 11 shots before the halfway mark of the middle frame. The result? A 2-0 lead for the home team with 8 minutes to go in the second.
3. Paul Byron, though
This kid can fly. To nullify an icing call, Byron went from 0 to 60 to outskate a Duck who was already making strides toward the puck. I must admit, I do get a kick out of watching him humiliate other teams with his Flash-like speed.
4. Carey Price, always the difference maker
Allowing their goaltender to face 21 shots in the middle 20 minutes, Carey Price was once again the Habs’ saving grace, keeping them within reach two goals down, when it could have easily been 4-0 after 40. Price made several key saves in the second to keep his team alive, giving them the chance to come back in the second.
Something something Carey Price pic.twitter.com/a18yGyVgU4— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) November 30, 2016
5. The PK came up big when they needed it most
The Habs started the third off needing to kill off a 5-3 Anaheim power play, but they held the fort. They kept their opponents boxed out to prevent any dangerous scoring chances, and left plenty of visibility of Price to glove the puck when it came his way. On an opportunity that could have been the nail in their coffin, the Canadiens kept on keeping on.
6. It was a tough night for Galchenyuk
The Canadiens’ top centreman was all over the ice looking brilliant as per the norm, but #27 just couldn’t make it happen on Tuesday night’s game. Galchenyuk had a number of open net opportunities but had no finish to his shot — the most notable one coming on a powerplay attempt right in tight on the net in the first period. On a different powerplay opportunity in the third, he would endeavour to stickhandle past two defensemen all alone deep in the offensive zone, which, naturally, end up on their stick and at the other end of the ice as Chucky came in without backup. Puck luck was probably largely attributed to the fact that none of his shot attempts were recorded as shots on goal, so you know he’ll bounce back soon.
7. Powerplay woes
At sixth in the league, it’s hardly time to start screaming about how the Canadiens can’t make anything happen on the powerplay, because at 22.7 percent, that’s far from true. But they went 0-for-3 on the man advantage against the Ducks, and their lack of production on the power play could have very well cost them the game. They had two early opportunities in the first period when the game’s momentum was very much in their favour, but they couldn’t make it happen. Not the time to start panicking, but they definitely could have used the speed they had going through the first in their favour to bag them a powerplay goal or two. We might then be looking at a very different scoreboard.
8. Andrew Shaw, a tale of two (twelve) minutes
With a goal and a fight to his name, Shaw was on his way to potentially recording a Gordie Howe hat trick. He stood up for himself and his team in the first period when he dropped the gloves to dance with Corey Perry, and brought the Canadiens within a goal from tying the game with just two minutes left in the third. A hooking call got him sent to the box just a minute and a half later.
Throwing a Hulk-like tantrum that I’ve only ever seen when my best friend is losing at Uno, Shaw earned himself a game misconduct when he lost his cool. It’s not the first time he’s been kicked out of a game this year, and while it likely won’t be the last, he needs to get a handle on his rage if he wants to contribute to the team beyond CHaracter points. This will be seen as passion by some fans, but you can be sure that the referees are taking note of Shaw’s displays of anger. In the long run it might come back to haunt the team. The Habs need Shaw to play with passion, but they don’t need him to lose his mind.
9. It was a tough break on a tough start of a tough road trip
And it’s just the beginning! The California road trip has been traditionally unkind to the Canadiens, but considering last year’s trip, their first outing was not all that bad. A few bounces in their favour could have changed the outcome of the game, and while they did take their skates off the gas pedal after the first, they could have fared far worse than the final score. A more skater-friendly California schedule this time around will also provide for an easier trip this year, and the Habs can use their speed to their advantage against the big, bad Western Conference, as it seems to have been their Achilles heel of late.
10. It could have been worse
The Canadiens were two minutes away from being shut out for the second time of the season and I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a 2-1 loss over a shutout loss any day of the year. Price made 36 saves on 38 shots, but was just edged out by Gibson, who stopped all but one of 40 shots. In the end, the result was much more favourable than what I had been anticipating, given the Habs history in California.
They still could have shot the puck in the last few seconds, though.