Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca
Michael McCarron, Phillip Danault, and Stefan Matteau had a consistently strong game, right from puck drop, which quickly led to a Ducks penalty in the offensive zone.
After a cautiously optimistic shift or two on the powerplay, the Ducks' league-best penalty kill kept the Habs backing into their own zone, and there were a few tense moments where it looked like the Habs were teetering on the edge of another collapse.
However, Tomas Plekanec thought that was silly, and turned a fairly harmless transition play into what looked like his first goal in eighteen games, as the announcers reminded us even as the puck went into the net. The goal would eventually be credited to Torrey Mitchell, who tipped the puck on its way in.
Shortly thereafter, McCarron laid a fairly tame hit on Lindholm, and then dropped the gloves with Manson, when the latter took offence. After a flurry of blows, of which McCarron got in more, they both went down. Despite some strong play for successive shifts by the Galchenyuk and Plekanec lines, Condon let in a softy through the five-hole, of the stick of Jakob Silfverberg. Fortunately, the Habs didn't deflate, and the period drew to a close, gift-goals one a side, and shots eleven all. Most promisingly, the Habs looked more like a team, and less like a disaster waiting to happen.
Unfortunately, the Ducks would strike first in the second, as Corey Perry scored his 30th of the season, largely uncontested. Then Jacob de la Rose took a tripping penalty, trying to keep Rakell away from the net, and Rakell appeared to score on the ensuing powerplay. The goal was instantly waved off for a high stick, and though the play was reviewed, the call on the ice stood.
Just before the nine minute mark, some absolutely beautiful playmaking by Greg Pateryn and the Galchenyuk line lead to Gibson committing to Pacioretty, and another one of Alex Galchenyuk's soon-to-be patented right circle slapshots rocketed into the back of a wide open net.
Less than a minute later, the unlikely suspect Mike Brown would find himself all alone in front of the Ducks goal, and he made no mistake victimizing Gibson. Joel Hanley, who had his first NHL point on an assist on Mitchell's goal, collected his second of the night. Barely two minutes after that, Silfverberg would get his second goal of the night, and the evening looked like it would be a wild one.
Although the teams traded some good chances, nothing of note occurred (other than a dazzling bit of stick handling from Rakell) until Mitchell took a penalty against Kessler. But for the second time of the night, the Canadiens' penalty kill looked much more like the penalty kill of old, and the period ended tied 3-3.
The back and forth pace carried into the third, with every line contributing with solid play, and at 8:13, Lucas Lessio got his first goal as a Hab, putting them up 4-3. Darren Dietz would also get his first NHL point on the second assist.
The Habs almost gave up another quick goal against, but this time Condon shut the door. Despite a frenetic final minute, played largely in the Habs end, Condon and the Canadiens dug in and held on to take the game.
- Stefan Matteau may have been the best Canadiens player on the ice last night. It would be easy to look at those who put up points in the game, but Matteau was quite good. Starting 40% of his shifts in the offensive zone, the Habs controlled 56.52% of even-strength shot attempts when he was on the ice. That was the best statline on the team, so it sticks out as a noteworthy performance.
- The Canadiens were the opposite of dominant on the night. Outshot 35-23, and out-attempted 69-54, they were both fortunate and opportunistic in getting the win. Fortunate that Mike Condon was sound in nets, and opportunistic in cashing in the chances they got. Tough win to get really excited about.
- Trying to get back to some positives, another unsung hero of the night were Michael McCarron and Stefan Matteau. Along with Danault, those three were the top Habs' forwards in terms of Corsi For at even strength, and the only three to register over 50% in that category.
- Andrei Markov was the only other skater over 50%, clocking in at 55.56%. Let us keep in mind that he is far on the wrong side of 30, and he yet again came close to skating 30 minutes on the night thanks to all of the injuries. He is far from done at this point.
- We'll cut it short there because there weren't many positives on the night as a whole. It was refreshing to see them have a little luck, but the simple fact is that their effort would generally yield a loss more often if consistently replicated.