Alas, the Montreal Canadiens nightmare season is almost at an end. But before they can relax and hit the golf courses, there remains a few games to be played, including last night's first of two games in the state of Florida.
Charlie Lindgren dressed for the first time in his NHL career since becoming a member of the Habs, but would start the game on the bench as Mike Condon's backup. With Carey Price now back at practice, one has to wonder if Lindgren will get a chance to suit up as a starter, though no timetable for price has been provided.
It was nothing much ado for the first 10 minutes of the game, as the teams traded a few chances to no avail. That was until Sven Andrighetto fired a quick shot that surprised Ben Bishop, allowing David Desharnais to pounce on the rebound and open the scoring.
Not a bad start, but what would a Canadiens game be without a player going down with an injury these days? Nathan Beaulieu blocked a hard shot in the first, went straight to the room, and it was quickly confirmed that he was done for the night. Later, it was confirmed that he is done for the season with a broken thumb.
That was about all there was to say for the first period, but it took a few short minutes into the second to see some fireworks. Torrey Mitchell got the puck outside the offensive blueline, gained the zone and drove wide, cut back to the middle, and scored an absolutely gorgeous goal.
Near the midway point of the frame, Ondrej Palat was awarded a penalty shot on a bit of a questionable call, though he definitely was hooked on the play. In any case, Mike Condon was equal to the task, shutting him down to preserve his team's two goal lead.
The third period was very uneventful, until a late power play for the Bolts gave them a chance to mount a comeback. With over two minutes to go in the game, they also pulled Bishop to get a two-man advantage. Unfortunately for them, Phillip Danault raced down the ice to grab a cleared puck, and deposited it into the empty net.
That was all she wrote, as the Canadiens would get the win, giving Mike Condon his 20th of the season and his first career shutout in the process.
- It seems that every single night, someone is injured for the Canadiens. Short of encasing every one of the remaining players in bubble wrap for the rest of the season, I'm not sure how you could slow that problem down. I suppose all one can really do is hope that they can finish the last few games intact.
- Mike Condon wasn't spectacular, and he did get some help from a few posts, but he was sound in net for the Canadiens and deserved the shutout. He didn't allow many bad rebounds, he handled the puck better than I would typically expect him to, and was rather well positioned. Solid game from him for sure.
- I'm struggling to understand what the strategy is with Michael McCarron right now. He had exactly zero offensive zone starts, and got shredded in possession as a result. He has never been touted as a defensive specialist, so I'm quite confused as to why he's not being deployed in more of an offensive role where he can get to the net and really use that frame of his.
- Andrei Markov might be taking on more minutes than I'd like to see him playing at his age, but he's still killing it. When he was on the ice last night, the Canadiens controlled 53.49% of even-strength shot attempts. He managed that while starting only 30% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Pretty impressive given his age and knee problems.
- Not to take anything away from Condon, but I am quite excited to see Charlie Lindgren potentially get a start on Saturday. At this point in the season, evaluation of talent is vital. While a few short games provides a tiny sample, it would still be great to see what the Canadiens have in their newest goaltender.