The Montreal Canadiens found themselves on the road again after only a single home game; one in which they played with little energy. They looked to have a bit more jump in their step as they faced the Jets in Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens struck quickly, taking advantage of the Jets’ inability to control a bouncing puck. It landed right in front of Phillip Danault after deflecting off of Connor Hellebyuck's right pad, and he put in the rebound less than a minute in the game.
Good transition work by the Habs helped them extend the lead to two early on. Nathan Beaulieu delivered a crisp pass up the ice to Sven Andrighetto, and he sent it to Brian Flynn. With plenty of space at the right faceoff circle, Flynn released a wrist shot off of Hellebuyck's shoulder into the net.
Drew Stafford and Mark Scheifele showed off some play-making skills to get the Jets on the board. Through a give-and-go, Stafford attracted all Habs eyes to him, distracting them from Scheifele. Stafford slid the pass from the corner in front to to his centreman, who would put it into an open net.
Mathieu Perreault almost scored on a deflection of a Dustin Byfuglien shot that hit the post. He was soon be able to redeem himself, slipping in between the Montréal defence to shoot the puck top corner to tie the game.
Tomas Plekanec won a battle in the corner in the offensive zone, and he got to the front of the net to shoot the puck five-hole to find the back of the net to give Montréal back its lead. Hellebuyck's night came to an end with that tally, as he had allowed three goals on just seven shots.
The Canadiens came out ready for the second period, and Flynn once again pitched in on a goal. He protected the puck along the boards to the left of the Jets' net before throwing it on net. Andrighetto tapped in the rebound, and threw the monkey off his back to celebrate.
Danault showed some offensive talent that is worthy of his temporary position as a first-line centre. He took the puck from the defensive zone and skated through the entire Jets team, making a slick move past Byfuglien before putting it past Michael Hutchinson for his second of the game.
A clear-cut puck-over-glass penalty by Torrey Mitchell cost the Habs almost immediately, as Scheifele scored his second goal on the ensuing man advantage.
Montréal spent the rest of the period making it difficult for Winnipeg to gain meaningful possession of the puck. The Jets would end the period with only three shots on net, most of them non-threatening.
It took a bit of time for the third period to gain some pace, but Max Pacioretty eventually found himself on a breakaway with the help of Michael McCarron blocking a point shot. He got not just one, but two shots on Hutchinson, but the Jets' goaltender stood tall on both the initial shot and the rebound.
Later in the final frame, on a two-on-one, Plekanec sent a pass that was too quick for Paul Byron to handle, but the winger stayed with the play, and sent the pass back to Weber. The defenceman threw the puck toward the net, and Artturi Lehkonen got his blade on the puck, changing its direction to get by the goaltender.
The Canadiens would add a seventh goal, this time on the power-play. Nathan Beaulieu was set up for a one-timer, but Hutchinson stopped with the blocker. The Habs retrieve the puck as it ran along the boards, and set up Beaulieu for a second time. The Jets' goaltender stopped him again, but this time the puck stayed right in front of him. Lehkonen tapped in the rebound for his second goal of the game.
Ryan Johnston tried to do too much in the defensive zone, losing control of the puck. Bryan Little took advantage of the misplay, shooting the puck through Al Montoya's five-hole for the 11th goal of the game.
The Jets pulled their goaltender with around two minutes left, down by three goals. The Canadiens did a good job taking away the Jets' space, and nothing came of the odd-man situation. The game ended quietly, and the Habs came away with the 7-4 win.
- Danault is looking more and more comfortable playing on that top line. He is pitching in offensively, with eight points in his last 10 games, but has not sacrificed much of his defensive play in the process. He is displaying great speed with the puck, an ability to find himself in open space and to know where to go to get great scoring chances. If Plekanec can use his two goals in his past two games to help him find his form, with the return of Galchenyuk approaching, the Canadiens could be better set down the middle than they were just one month ago.
- Lehkonen seems to be feeling comfortable in his position. With two goals on this night, he has 10 goals on the season, and five points in his past five games. He is doing exactly what he needs to do to be a steady player in the NHL: sound at both ends of the ice and hard-working in front of the net and around the corners. The Canadiens' forward depth has really come together.