Prior to the game, Paul Romanuk mentioned that Ondrej Pavelec had just five wins in 17 games against the Montreal Canadiens.
It seemed like that record may have been on the Winnipeg Jets' goalie's mind, as Max Pacioretty's innocent-looking shot in the first few moments of game almost went in. As Mike Johnson shared after that close call, Pacioretty is one of only two players who has a shot in each game this season, with Daniel Sedin the only one to match that feat.
After some good offensive-zone time and a few more good looks at Pavelec, the P.K. Subban displayed his defensive prowess by forcing Blake Wheeler into a bad-angle shot instead of letting him make a pass or take a better shot.got a two-on-one, and
That rush seemed to ignite the Jets' offence, and the Habs spent the next portion of the game hemmed in their own zone, and looked extremely dicey in their defensive coverage, but Mike Condon was up to the task and helped his team weather the sudden storm.
Offensively, the Habs had one line that looked capable of scoring, and that was the newly constructed twio of Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, and Alex Galchenyuk. The fun didn't last long, however, as Gallagher was first left banged up after blocking one of Pacioretty's shots in front of the Jets' net, and was then forced to leave the game later in the first with a lower-body injury after getting tangled up with Marko Dano and having his legs head in opposite directions.
The Canadiens started the second period a lot better than the first. Stefan Matteau drew an early interference penalty on Alex Burmistrov, giving the Habs a power play.
The entry strategy remained as frustrating as it has throughout the season, failing to gain the zone until the very end of the two-minute advantage, and failed to register even a single shot on goal as a result.
Just as the penalty expired, Subban got a bit too fancy in his attempt to transition the puck up the ice, completing one spin-o-rama exiting his zone before losing the puck on his second move with the puck, turning it over to Mark Scheifele, who took an uncontested path to the net and scored on Condon.
Fortunately, the duo of Pacioretty and Galchenyuk continued to work well in the absence of the team's top right-winger, and showed that they have the instant chemistry to find each other in the offensive zone. Less than a minute after Scheifele opened the scoring, Pacioretty drew two defenders and sent a no-look, between-the-legs pass to the slot, where Galchenyuk finished the play with authority.
The Habs started the third with another power play and a chance to take their first lead of the game, but still could not get a shot on goal.With little hope of making the playoffs, it may be time to try out a drastic new strategy for getting the puck set up in the offensive zone when facing just four opposing skaters. Maybe the Flying V can make a comeback.
That failure to make the other team pay for their transgressions bit them later in the frame, when the Jets scored on a simple point shot that was redirected by Andrew Copp and behind Condon to give the Jets a lead six minutes into the third.
The Habs battled back and answered just a few minutes later, when Max Pacioretty passed the puck to the offensive blue line, and Greg Pateryn found the stick of Galchenyuk for a redirect for the centre's second goal of the game.
The tally was Galchenyuk's 21st of the season, giving him a new career high; one more than the 20 he amassed in 80 games last season. He now has seven goals in his last six games, with three multi-goal efforts in that span.
The game remained tied for just over three minutes when a soft point shot from Drew Stafford landed right beside Scheifele at the goalmouth, and he quickly knocked it into the net to give the Jets a lead with seven minutes to go.
Montreal showed very little urgency in a bid to get the game to overtime, being out-attempted by the Jets while down a goal in the final third of the period, and ultimately surrendering an empty-net goal to Scheifele, giving the young forward his first career hat trick, and a 4-2 regulation loss solidifying a 0-3-1 western road trip for the Habs.
Mike Johnson used basic statistics to explain why Galchenyuk is better as a centre than as a winger, including his points per 60 minutes at both positions. Maybe the best part of this analysis is the fact that Johnson was able to explain why Therrien would prefer to play Alex at wing, highlighting his goals-for percentage disparity at centre and wing, and explaining why that is more based on luck than actual defensive ability.
Johnson then highlighted the importance of controlled zone entries to generating shots, with an emphasis on the power play. The Habs are third in the league on dump-ins, and much lower on controlled entries. And we all saw how that affects the team's ability to function when they get in a man-advantage situation.
The Habs top six is better without David Desharnais out, but the team is better when he providing an offensive option on the third line.
Ondrej Pavelec now has six wins in 18 tries against the Canadiens. That's a .333 winning percentage!