The Montréal Canadiens were on the road to play a team that won three straight games. Special teams was the story of the night, as the Canadiens would get all of their goals with the man advantage while denying the Devils during the penalty kill.
1. Alex Galchenyuk’s celebration
The way he (barely) celebrated after his powerplay marker was interesting to see. It's like scoring that goal was no big deal at all. There were interpretations that last season, Max Pacioretty told him to tone down on his goal celebrations, but that was during a time where they were sure to be missing the playoffs. Now that the Canadiens are contenders again, it would be nice to see some more excitement when scoring goals. Continuing to goals come, and the fact that he is still getting better is exciting to see.
2. Nathan Beaulieu’s play
It's almost as if we will need to note each game that Beaulieu plays well during, due to his lack of consistency. This was one of his good ones, as he kept his feet moving, got involved on the offence and earned the trust to participate plentifully on the powerplay (5:07 PP TOI). I’m not sure what necessary motivation he needs to give it his best most consistently, but once he does reach that point, the Canadiens’ need for another top-four defenceman is less urgent.
3. No contest in the first
Even though the teams went into the first intermission tied, discount the goals and the Canadiens were all over the New Jersey Devils. They led 10-3 in shots and whenever the Devils would get into Montréal's zone, the Canadiens didn't give them the room to breathe to even get shot attempts. It's unfortunate that the Habs were unable to get more for their efforts, but not surprising given the team's struggle on offence lately.
4. Possession carried on in the rest of the game
It’s hard to say if it were the Canadiens that were really that good, or if the Devils were really that bad. In the long run, it was probably a combination of the two, but one thing that’s clear is that Montreal dominated the shot control. The Habs had a whooping 65% 5vs5 Corsi For, and not a single Hab had a negative shot attempt rating. If you look at the chart below, you can see just how far apart these two teams played in this game.
5. All about that pace
This game had more pace than many likely expected. Credit is due to the Canadiens' skating prowess, as they showed more energy than they had in games past. As the games get more competitive, the Canadiens will want to make sure that they continue bringing the energy to as many matchups as possible.
6. Nothing at even strength
Considering how much time the Canadiens spent going on the offence, the amount of chances they generated five-on-five could have been higher. There were too many one-and-done shots, often with very little traffic blocking Keith Kinkaid's view. Although the Canadiens won the game through the power-play, the Devils’ goaltender did not seem to be having trouble finding the puck to save. The Habs will need to work on scoring the dirty goals to ensure a secondary stream of offense.
7. All the power to you
Speaking of the powerplay, the Canadiens were three for seven on this night. Considering that the Devils are middle of the pack in the league when it comes to the penalty kill, it comes as a nice achievement to have done so well against it. The Habs power-play ranks second in the league since December 27, and it certainly helped them win this game.
8. Looking de la Rosy
When it seemed like Jacob de la Rose might turn out to be a draft bust, he played this game like the player that many were impressed with two seasons ago. As a forward who is likely to end up a defensive specialist, it was good seeing him be one of the players to push the pace and to find open ice in the offensive zone.
9. Keeping busy
It must have been a tough night for Al Montoya, since he spend a good portion of it just standing and watching. In many cases when goalies face very few shots, they tend to struggle to find their groove due to inertia. Montoya did not suffer from that at all, and stood tall when the Devils pushed late in the third period. Don’t look now, but Montoya is enjoying a four-game winning streak at the moment.
10. Penalty kill to kill for
The Devils’ powerplay is less than great, but the Canadiens’ penalty kill is struggling just as much. It was another encouraging aspect for the Habs when we consider that the Devils did not get a single shot during both their man-advantage opportunities. In the playoffs a poor penalty can ruin a team’s chances of going far, so the Canadiens will have to find a way to solidify that aspect of their game. This night was a step in the right direction.