On a night when the Montreal Canadiens needed to begin a lengthy stretch without two offensive centres, seeing three players go out long-term in just a matter of days, it was going to take all the grit and character the Habs could muster to make a winning statement.
Phillip Danault opened the scoring thirteen minutes into the first period, tipping a Nathan Beaulieu shot from the point to put the Canadiens up 1-0. With Danault’s stick high in the crease, the goal was first reviewed then challenged, as the NHL is taking it to the next level of their dissection of goal-scoring. In the end it would stand and give Danault his sixth goal.
The Devils responded with a crashing of Carey Price’s crease, during which P.-A. Parenteau threw a puck toward the goal with Adam Henrique going to the net. Henrique got credit for the goal, with Price falling back in his net. Michel Therrien use his challenge on the goal for the period’s second lengthy review. This goal would stand as well.
The double reviews slowed the pace of the period, making it take up almost one hour of real time.
The Canadiens responded to the tying of the game almost immediately. Well, kind of.
Torrey Mitchell drove to the net and flicked a wrist shot blocker side on Cory Schneider, who made a nice save with the blocker only to send the rebound toward his defenceman who accidentally deflected the puck into his own net to put the Habs up 2-1.
Since the Devils were successful at crashing the net on their first goal, they thought they’d try again, with Kyle Palmieri bounding into Carey Price, setting off a wrath akin to the eruption of a dormant volcano. The resulting scrum in the crease ended up in a Devils power play, with Carey Price assessed a double-minor for roughing, only partially offset by an initial call for goaltender interference.
Artturi Lehkonen gave the Canadiens a two-goal lead ten mintues into a heated second period, burying a rebound in close to Schneider for his fourth goal of the season.
The Habs extended their lead to three goals 45 seconds into the third period, with Max Pacioretty scoring his third goal in his last three games to put the Habs up 4-1.
The Devils responded 2:22 later on the power play as Adam Henrique found Taylor Hall all alone next to the faceoff circle to bury a shot into a wide-open net to make it 4-2.
Aside from giving up that goal three minutes into the period, the Habs dominated the third. Torrey Mitchell broke through on the Canadiens’ 21st shot of the period and 46th shot of the game on a wraparound for his second of the game.
Overall, the Habs put in an incredible performance given the situation at hand, with a 5-2 victory. They ended the night wth 49 shots on net and 83 shot attempts, far surpassing the league-best average shot-attempts per sixty of 61.6, belonging to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
- Carey Price sent a message last night. Undoubtedly, he is not the kind of player who reacts in such a way without just cause. He showed leadership, the willingness to fight for what is right. He got four minutes for it, and they were merited. Consider that postage cost.
- Players who stepped it up tonight: Torrey Mitchell who had two goals and still maintains a 33% shooting percentage (seven goals on 21 shots this season); Alex Radulov who didn’t get any points last night, but is still finding ways to get better every game; Max Pacioretty who netted his eighth of the season, and; Phillip Danault who had a goal and assist tonight despite being on the tail end of an illness.
- Let’s not take for granted the challenge that was in front of the Habs tonight. They could have tightened it up and tried to win this one 2-1. Instead, they put in a five-goal, 49-shot performance.
- This was the Canadiens’ 2000th win at home in team history. Artturi Lehkonen gets the game-winner in this historic victory, and Carey Price marks his name down in the Habs’ record book once again by being the winning goalie.