Only two days after pitching a shutout against the lowly Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price and the Canadiens faced a high flying Columbus Blue Jackets team, who were winners of six straight. Still missing Shea Weber, all eyes were on Price on Monday night, as Montreal iced a very inexperienced defence core for the second game in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky on the other hand, was also a focal point, as he’s been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL this season.
Montreal got off to a quick start, as they rolled over the Blue Jackets early. Strong pressure and sturdy defensive play led to the first goal roughly four minutes into the first. Following a turnover in the defensive zone, Brendan Gallagher took the puck all the way down the right wing at full speed, quickly snapping a shot past Bobrovsky, to give Montreal the early lead. This was Gallagher’s team leading 10th of the season, and 200th NHL point.
About a minute after the Canadiens got on the board, they conceded the first penalty of the game, as Phillip Danault sat for hooking. On the ensuing power play, Price made sure that Columbus knew he wasn’t going to be beat easy tonight, sliding across for a huge pad stop on Nick Foligno.
Oh my word what a pad save by Carey Price! pic.twitter.com/CBR1OsXJB6— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2017
Montreal continued to control the play throughout the period, eventually leading Columbus 11-6 in shots by the end of the period. Halfway through the period, the Habs were gifted their first power play of the game following a David Savard holding penalty. They wasted no time, as Jonathan Drouin let a slap shot go over the glove of Bobrovsky only six seconds into the man advantage, increasing the Canadiens’ lead to two.
A power play later in the period wouldn’t result in a goal, but the Habs displayed slick and efficient puck movement nevertheless, which should lead to good things in the future. This was one of the many positives for the Canadiens in the first, as they also displayed a great forecheck complemented by solid defensive positioning.
The second period is when play really began to even out, as Columbus finally got their legs underneath them. Their newfound energy was obvious, and Price was forced to make two exceptional saves on Dubinsky only 15 seconds into the frame.
Increasing offensive pressure from Columbus forced discipline issues for Montreal early in the second. Faced with two back-to-back penalties, the kill fared admirably, clearly benefiting from Price’s presence. The PK unit ended up five-for-five on the night, a big reason why Montreal was able to stifle the Blue Jackets’ offence.
However, Columbus’s pressure finally paid off with four minutes remaining in the period, as Josh Anderson would shrug off Joe Morrow on the rush and leave a rebound for Quebec native Pierre-Luc Dubois to chip into the net past Price, bringing the lead down to one.
Price continued his strong play throughout the second period, eventually notching 19 saves through just a period and a half. However, Montreal gave up too many opportunities in the slot area, as 10 out of the 19 chances for Columbus came from the danger zone in front of the Canadiens’ netminder.
Despite peppering Price with shots, the Blue Jackets could not get anything past a dialed-in Price. Seth Jones managed to sneak one past him, only to be foiled by the goalpost, the third one in the game for the Jackets.
The Canadiens had one more chance on the man advantage this period, following a Foligno roughing penalty. Despite not putting a goal up on the board, their puck movement was great once again, and Alex Galchenyuk had a great look, popping Bobrovsky’s mask off in the process.
At the tail end of the power play, Gallagher had a wondrous opportunity to score his second of the game but was denied by a fantastic reactionary save by Bobrovsky, keeping the game tight.
Sergei Bobrovsky wasn't about to let Carey Price be the only goalie with an amazing save in this game. pic.twitter.com/slj1Yhm1FF— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2017
Jacob de la Rose took an unneeded penalty following the man advantage opportunity, leading to Columbus controlling the play for almost the entire two minutes. An entertaining battle between Price and Jenner ensued, with the former denying the Blue Jackets forward twice on the doorstep during the power play.
Jakub Jerabek, who’s been impressive following his call up from Laval, showed he wasn’t all offensive flair, as he laid an impressive hip check on Anderson coming through the neutral zone.
"Czech yourself before you wreck yourself"-Jakub Jerabek probably pic.twitter.com/QQ76OIvIqJ— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 28, 2017
Columbus had a great chance with roughly four minutes to go on a three-on-one rush, leading to very entertaining end-to-end action, as the Habs attempted to squeak one more by Bobrovsky while Columbus scrambled to keep any pressure on a very composed Price.
In a last ditch effort, John Tortorella pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, and Andrew Shaw took advantage, scoring his fifth of the year into the open cage and sealing the win for the Canadiens, snapping the Blue Jackets’ six-game winning streak.
- Gallagher has been Montreal’s best player by far this season, and he was all over the ice today. At 25 games so far, he matched his goal total of 10 from last season, and looks to be on pace to score around 33 goals, which could break a career high for the feisty forward.
- When asked about what’s worked for him this year, he replied; “There’s a lot of things, there’s health, stability on the line. Last year I was kind of all over the place, wasn’t really sure who I was playing with. This year I’ve been with Pleky for the most part of it, we’ve been able to talk things out and build chemistry.”
- Price seems like he hasn’t missed a step. With only one goal allowed on 74 shots since returning, he seems to be back to the form we saw him in years past, which could be very beneficial for Montreal in their next stretch of games.
- However, Andrew Shaw noted postgame that the Canadiens can’t rely on Price too much, and need to make the necessary adjustments to be better defensively.
Up next is the Ottawa Senators and newly acquired golden boy Matt Duchene, in the first meeting between the two teams since the Habs’ 8-3 lopsided win on Wednesday. It should be interesting to see how Ottawa plays the Habs this time around, and if Price plays on back-to-back nights as the Canadiens play the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.