1. They left their legs in Toronto
The first few seconds of the game mislead us into thinking that the Canadiens were going to fly through this game. Behind the net, Carey Price would lift the puck over to Jeff Petry, who would get the puck up and out, giving Phillip Danault and Max Pacioretty a dangerous chance down low at the other end. The rest of the period, however, didn’t follow the same momentum.
The Habs allowed the Capitals to dictate the pace of the game, who would capitalize midway through the first period—as was the story for much of the first and second frames. By the end of the second period, the Caps would outshoot the Habs 28 to 15, and though the score would indicate a very close game through the majority of 60 minutes, the Canadiens needed to count themselves lucky that Price came out ready to stand on his head during the first 40.
2. Artturi Lehkonen won’t stop
Simply put, this kid is amazing. Lehkonen works hard shift after shift, and is almost Gallagharian in his efforts. He makes plays out of absolutely nothing, refuses to let go of the puck unless it is to smartly chip it to an open teammate, and is all around one of the smartest players in the Canadiens’ arsenal.
He’s got eight goals on the season at its midway point, and you can bet he’s going to keep scoring. He’s played the bulk of the season alongside the defensively sound Tomas Plekanec which has still worked in his favour, but you have to wonder how he would perform with some of his more offensively inclined teammates.
3. Habs are hitting before being hit
With an injury riddled lineup, the Canadiens came out of the gates on Monday ready to show they weren’t going to be pushed around. With 15 hits coming out of the first period alone, and from a number of players, this team is standing tall despite their injuries, and is refusing to let other teams take advantage of them while they’re a couple men down.
4. Bobby Farnham is doing what he can to get noticed
Trying to show the Habs’ brass that he can provide a spark of energy on the fourth line, it’s difficult not to notice Bobby Farnham, whether it’s in a positive or negative fashion. He loves to throw the body around and get in the faces of opposing players. He was just shy of getting the equalizer on a beautiful opportunity when Max Pacioretty would send a pass across the goal crease and onto Farnham’s waiting stick, but Holtby would be there waiting to slam the door shut.
It’s unlikely that he’ll maintain his roster spot as key players start to slowly trickle back into the lineup, but you can be sure Farnham won’t be going quietly. Unfortunately for Farnham, the fact of the matter is he’s simply not an NHL-calibre player, which does not bode well for his future with the organization.
5. Jeff Petry had a rough night, but he’s still impressing
He’s joining the rush, he’s setting up plays and getting chances deep in the offensive zone. What’s not to love about this guy? Jeff Petry is very confidently playing his best hockey, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch him.
He had a couple of stumbles last night, but the fact that he’s helping to drive the offence is a big part of this team’s success this season.
6. Lars Eller wanted one in Montreal
From the moment the puck dropped, you could tell Larry wanted to score one at his old stomping grounds. Lars Eller was Lars Eller as he shut down Montreal’s offence shift after shift, but it was also difficult not to notice the extra jump in his step every time he would enter the offensive zone. It seems that Eller has found himself a home in Washington, but that hasn’t stopped me from missing our favourite Dane.
7. Plekanec with the bounce
Plekanec had a few good looks in the first and second periods, including a couple of dings on the posts, and you had to think that something would eventually give for this man. His line mates Paul Byron and Artturi Lehkonen worked hard to get him the puck, and sure enough, he managed to golf in a rebound off a net-front scramble.
You can just see the weight lifting off his shoulders after every goal he’s scored, but it seems that after each goal and after each drought, the weight grows heavier and heavier.
8. Shea Weber’s hammer shot rocked the net on its moorings
It’s a wonder any of his previous victims can still walk and talk.
9. Alex Ovechkin: the poetry, the irony
When Nathan Beaulieu all but vowed to keep Ovechkin off the scoresheet ahead of Monday night’s game, a trickle of dread ran down most of our backs. And rightfully so. On any given evening, walking out of the Bell Centre with a goal and two assists would be cause for celebration, but to add insult to injury, The Great 8 notched his 544th career goal to tie former Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard in the city that was home to the Rocket himself.
Ovechkin had a great game, and played the role of playmaker as he fed two of four goals to his line mates. Not only did he tie an impressive record, he did so in remarkable fashion. Ovie now sits at 999 career points, and at this point, I’m just happy his next game is not in or against Montreal.
10. Holtby outshines Price
Going into Monday night’s game, we knew this would be a matchup between goaltenders. The evening’s results could have gone either way, but at the end of the day, the Canadiens were simply outmatched. Only turning up the intensity late in the game, the Habs didn’t do much to keep pucks away from Carey Price, and the scoreboard certainly reflected that toward the latter half of the third period.
Both Price and Holtby were absolutely ridiculous through the first two periods, but where things would eventually go very far south for the Habs, Washington’s goaltender remained a stone wall.
Price hasn’t looked his sharpest of late, and while a couple of those goals would have been tough saves for anyone, you know #31 is probably kicking himself after that game.