Despite losing Carey Price to a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens rolled into Winnipeg having won three of their last five games, ready to take on a high-powered Jets team.
The game started off slowly, but took off as soon as Winnipeg was called for the first of their six penalties on the night. Despite not scoring, both Andrew Shaw and Max Pacioretty had great chances right in front of Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck, as well as a couple of good looks from Shea Weber.
Later in the period, on a Michael McCarron penalty, the Jets opened the scoring as Patrik Laine beat Al Montoya cleanly, giving the Jets the early 1-0 lead.
Despite allowing the power-play goal, Montoya was vital in keeping Montreal in the game following the initial marker, stopping a barrage from the Jets following the goal. A great positional save on Brandon Tanev on a two-on-one set the tone for the Habs netminder, showing he was there to battle all night long.
However, Montreal kept coming, outworking Winnipeg in the offensive zone every chance they could get. Within the final two minutes of the period, Brendan Gallagher tipped the puck on net, only to have it ring off the post.
Penalties quickly became the Jets’ kryptonite, as Dmitry Kulikov’s second penalty late in the first resulted in Andrew Shaw’s first goal of the night, off a deflection on a Jonathan Drouin wrist shot.
The goal occurred not even 10 seconds into the man advantage, and sent the teams tied into the intermission.
Three minutes into the second frame, another Jets penalty occurred, this time from Laine. After a great power-play sequence that involved various opportunities for Weber, Shaw scores his second man-advantage goal of the evening off a rebound.
Montreal was outshooting Winnipeg in the second period by almost 20 shots at one point, with 10 of them coming off the power play alone. Despite the edge in the play, the Jets weren’t giving up, and Andrew Copp tied the game with only three minutes remaining in the period.
Jeff Petry took a penalty early in the third for closing his hand on the puck, continuing the special teams battle. Unfortunately, Nikolaj Ehlers made him pay, scoring five minutes into the frame.
The penalty parade continued, and Blake Wheeler soon made it 4-2 for the Jets on the third power-play goal for Winnipeg.
Unlike previous games this season, Montreal didn’t let up when down two goals. Tomas Plekanec kept the Canadiens in the game, following some great play along the boards by his linemate. Gallagher’s tenacious play in corner won the puck, and he was able to set up his centreman from his knees.
At this point, the Canadiens had over 68 shot attempts in the game, 37 of them being on goal, absolutely dominating the Jets in terms of offensive possession. They were finally rewarded in the waning moments of the third period, as Petry sent a blistering wrist shot past Hellebuyck.
Montreal entered OT after dominating the Jets following the tying goal, and kept the pace going in the extra frame. They had a glorious chance to end the game early in overtime, as Max Pacioretty was absolutely robbed of a goal by Hellebuyck on a wide-open one-time shot.
But as the theme of the night went, a penalty by Tyler Myers sent Montreal back on the power play, and Pacioretty had the final say, scoring the winning goal (as he often seems to do), capping the Habs’ late comeback, and earning a 5-4 overtime win.
Montreal makes a final stop on their four-game road trip in Illinois on Sunday night, looking to head back home with a third win, against the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Despite not having Carey Price, the Habs are clicking on all cylinders. Goals are coming from different sources, and the offensive depth is finally paying off.
- Shea Weber had himself a game, with two assists and six shots on goal, leading the Habs with 29:08 of ice time. He had many looks on the power play, made quick and effective passes, and despite not scoring, was a very big reason why the Habs were able to generate offence. He also was vital in the OT winner, as he kept the puck in the zone and helped to create Pacioretty’s goal.
- Al Montoya also had a strong outing, even if he did allow four goals. If Price’s injury keeps him out for a few more games, Montoya’s play should be enough to keep the Habs afloat.
- Alex Galchenyuk quietly has four points in his last six games, and has been one of the better Habs in this last stretch, highlighted tonight by his assist on the OT winner.
- Gallagher is having a resurgent season. He was strong on the puck all night, won various battles in the corners, and never missed a beat. He was one of the most noticeable Habs tonight, and it showed on the Plekanec goal.
- Pacioretty still has the clutch factor, as his game-winner was his ninth career OT goal. I’m not too concerned about the Habs captain, as he has been getting better with each passing game.