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Canadiens vs. Sharks Recap: McCarron starts strong, the Canadiens do not

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The Habs fell behind early, and Carey Price was not impressed

NHL: San Jose Sharks at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

This game immediately started on the wrong foot for the Canadiens, with Torrey Mitchell taking an early tripping penalty. This would be a recurring theme throughout the night for Montreal. Even though the first penalty kill looked strong, it would not match the early effort for the rest of the night.

Almostseven minutes into the first, Paul Byron would take a hooking penalty, and the Sharks made the Habs pay, with David Schlemko potting his first goal in FIFTY games. It was going to be that kind of night.

The Habs (mostly just Radulov) tried to respond, but another penalty taken by Mitchell for high sticking would send the Sharks right back on the powerplay. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would connect for San Jose’s second man-advantage goal of the night.

By now you could tell the Canadiens were half asleep, and the effort simply wasn’t there. The period was capped off by Sharks rookie Timo Meier scoring his first NHL goal off a rebound in his debut with 6 minutes remaining in the first period.

Sven Andrighetto also left in the period after sliding face first into the boards, did not return to the game, and will not travel with the Canadiens to Washington.

One positive from the first period was Michael McCarron. Making his regular season debut for the Habs, he immediately wanted to make his presence known to the Sharks, as he was provided a solid net-front presence as well as being physical along the boards.

The tables turned slightly at the beginning of the second, as the Habs got their first powerplay opportunity of the night due to a San Jose too many men penalty. This could have been a momentum shift, but Martin Jones was all over the Habs at this point, not allowing anything to squeak by.

Then things got interesting. Melker Karlsson scored the Sharks fourth of the night, leading Michel Therrien to make a goalie change. Carey Price was pulled for the first time since October 2013, and he certainly was not pleased with his team’s performance, as he glared down the bench while skating off the ice.

Radulov continued to be the main source of any offence the Habs could manage, setting up Artturi Lehkonen for a few chances near the end of the period. Max Pacioretty was mysteriously absent through a portion of the 2nd period, but showed up near the end of the frame with stitched up chin.

To the third period, where even though the shots were surprisingly close at 19-18 in favour of the Sharks, the score was still 4-0. It took until halfway through the frame for Montreal to finally break through, as Zach Redmond jumped into the play and gave a cross ice pass to Brian Flynn, who scored his 3rd of the season.

The goal seemed spark the Canadiens, as their intensity picked up and they began pushing for a second. McCarron was one of the best Canadiens all night, setting up Jeff Petry after some great work along the boards.

McCarron kept generating chances throughout the rest of the third, setting up Radulov for a few chances, which couldn’t bury around Martin Jones.

The Canadiens were finally buzzing within the Sharks zone in the waning moments of the third period with their net empty. Pacioretty had a chance go just wide of the post and was then robbed by Jones with 44 seconds remaining.

That was as close as the Habs would get to mustering a full comeback, as the Sharks managed to hang on to the 4-2 win.

Thoughts:

  • Too many penalties, too early. Discipline was definitely a factor for the Canadiens tonight, as 4 out of the 5 Habs penalties was in the first period.
  • Carey seemed really upset at the situation. Please, let’s not make him mad.
  • I’m interested what Radulov and Lehkonen could do together. They created a few chances in the second period, and it couldn’t hurt to try them out for an extended period.
  • The first and second periods were hard to watch. If the Habs played all game like they did late in the third the outcome would have been much different. They had the Sharks on their heels, and they should have done that from the start, but alas they took forty minutes to get going, a clear lack of preparation by the coach.
  • Pacioretty could have had at least two goals in the final few minutes.
  • I’ve praised him throughout the recap, but I really think McCarron was great tonight, and proved that he should stay in the lineup for the foreseeable future. He was strong on the puck, forechecked well and generated offence every time he touched the puck. He also finished with a team leading 76% CF.