After the catastrophic 10-0 loss last time out against Columbus, the Habs seemed determined to not let the ghost of that game haunt them.
Through the first period, they played hard, but not necessarily in sync, and Al Montoya made some excellent saves early. Mark Barberio impressed early, leading the rush on several occasions, and generally continuing to prove that he’s belonged in the NHL for a while.
The Habs iced the puck a million times (in reality it was more like seven), and drew the first penalty of the game about half way through the period. Though they were unable to capitalize, they did get Shea Weber’s point shot set up.
Alexander Radulov took the Habs’ first penalty of the game after a bit of a rough start that saw him collide with both Artturi Lehkonen and Phillip Danault, but the Habs’ penalty kill was aggressive and successful. Their second penalty of the game for too many men, again by Radulov at 17:34, did not end as well as Sam Gagner put the puck into a wide open net.
After that, things seemed to break down a bit for the Habs, but they managed to get through the final few minutes of the period. The Canadiens did end up outshooting Columbus 12-9, but went into the first break down a goal, and that infernal cannon ringing in their ears.
The second period started better with Torrey Mitchell getting a good chance, and Nathan Beaulieu and Brendan Gallagher almost teaming up for one, but the puck went the other way, and Brandon Saad put the puck past Montoya for the second cannon of the night.
The Canadiens got a gift power play as Seth Jones was called for slashing after supposedly breaking his stick. Although Beaulieu had a masterful outing on the power play, Jeff Petry also got a shot or two away, and the Habs hit 20 shots, the power play came to nothing.
Danault took a tripping penalty, and a wild Habs penalty kill commenced. Plekanec, Flynn and Weber, of all people, got an odd man rush, Montoya made a spectacular dive to rob Nick Foligno, and the Habs some how survived. Thanks, in part, to some sloppy play by the Jackets.
Paul Byron had a phenomenal chance short handed on Pacioretty’s penalty, getting not one, but two chances on Bobrovsky after stealing the puck from Saad.
The end of 40 saw the Canadiens with the edge in shots 13-9, but Columbus continued to lead. The final period saw the Habs again begin alright, with neither team putting up a shot in the first five minutes.
The next five minutes went much better for the Habs, as several consecutive shifts pinned the Jackets in their own end, but Bobrovsky continued to be an absolute beast, shutting down a golden opportunity from Pacioretty, Danault and Gallagher.
As the Habs continued to pressure, Jeff Petry came in and got off a spectacular shot from practically the goal line to cut the deficit in half.
The Canadiens kept their foot on the accelerator after Petry’s goal, keeping the Blue Jackets on their heels. Radulov’s game took a distinct upturn as he made a beautiful between the legs pass to keep the puck moving in the offensive zone.
The Habs pulled Montoya with just over a minute left, but the Habs were unable to tie the game up, despite a big shot from Petry.
So the Habs go into Christmas with two losses, and the 10-0 debacle remains un-avenged. But there’s always next year! In all seriousness, a 2-1 loss can be seen as a moral victory, especially considering how many of the shots the Canadiens controlled.
- Torrey Mitchell, usually so defensively responsible, did not have a good night, losing his footing and his man who went on to score on the first goal, and being less than stellar on the second.
- Radulov also had a pretty awful night, what with colliding with his own teammates, taking a bad penalty, and then an even worse penalty, and generally uncharacteristically whiffing on chances and passes.
- Jeff Petry continues to be white hot, scoring his eight of the year, and his fourth in five games. He also put up a team leading five shots on goal. He’s Montreal’s best defenceman, and arguably their best player at the moment.
- Beaulieu had another good outing. His power play shift in the second period was impressive: his passes were quick and crisp, he got off a big shot that hobbled a Columbus defender, and made a diving play to keep the puck in the zone. His play through the rest of the game was clean and dependable on a team that seemed to struggle with both those aspects. He also led all Habs in ice time, and had a very nice 58.33 CF% and three shots. Definitely a player who flourishes in in the spotlight.