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Canadiens vs. Hurricanes game recap: Yet another loss

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Carolina continued its winning ways, while the Canadiens started a losing streak.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

After dropping their last game to the Edmonton Oilers, a flu-ridden Montreal Canadiens squad entered last night’s contest looking to rebound against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Despite coming back from an extended holiday break, neither team started the game on a sluggish note. But though both sides exchanged quick shots in the opening minutes of the period, it was the home team who got on the board first.

Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

Capitalizing on a Karl Alzner turnover, Justin Faulk had no trouble finding Teuvo Teravainen all alone in front of the Canadiens net. Teravainen made no mistake beating Carey Price to make it 1-0 Carolina just under four minutes into the first.

Gaining momentum from the early lead, the Hurricanes peppered the Canadiens with shots. Carolina went on to outshoot Montreal by a 15-6 margin in the opening frame, but Price worked his magic in net to keep it a one-goal game.

Bad luck continued to plague the Canadiens, who were assessed the first penalty of the game just over halfway through the period. Alex Galchenyuk was sent off for elbowing Brock McGinn, but Montreal successfully killed off the resulting Carolina power play.

Galchenyuk nearly put the Canadiens on the board in the dying minutes of the frame, as he found himself splitting the Hurricanes defence to get his team’s best scoring opportunity of the opening 20 minutes. But he couldn’t quite beat Ward, as the Canadiens headed into the second period down a goal.

Despite being denied by Ward in the first period, Galchenyuk would get his revenge in the second. Just over five minutes in, he waltzed around Elias Lindholm to go top shelf on Cam Ward. Galchenyuk’s ninth goal of the season tied things at one, and put the Canadiens right back into the game.

Minutes later, Charles Hudon had a glorious opportunity of his own to give Montreal its first lead of the game, but he was turned away by Cam Ward to keep it a 1-1 game.

The Hurricanes received their own chance to restore their lead, when a tripping penalty was called against Andrew Shaw. But once again, Montreal’s penalty killers were able shut down Carolina’s offence.

The Hurricanes returned the favour under five minutes later, when Klas Dahlbeck was given a two-minute minor for hooking Galchenyuk. Despite getting a few good looks on the man advantage, the Canadiens were unable to grab the lead.

A stronger showing in the second frame allowed Montreal to head into the third pushing for a go-ahead goal. The Canadiens pressured early into the final frame, but whatever momentum they had leading in was dashed a little under halfway through.

A late holding call that went against Galchenyuk gave the Hurricanes their third power-play opportunity of the night. The third time was the charm, as the Hurricanes restored their lead on the ensuing man advantage. Sebastian Aho put the home team back up on top, after relentlessly whacking away at Lindholm’s rebound.

Adding insult to injury, Aho got his second of the night when the Canadiens gave up a 2-on-0 rush after pulling Price for an extra attacker in the dying minutes of the game. Aho’s 10th marker of the season made it 3-1.

Despite taking a late penalty, the Hurricanes extended their winning streak, while the Canadiens added another tick to the loss column.

Thoughts

  • Despite taking an untimely penalty in the third period, Alex Galchenyuk made a compelling case for why he should be played at centre. His end-to-end rush demonstrated a level of offensive creativity that the Canadiens seem to be in desperate need of. No other Montreal centre came close to generating the chances that Galchenyuk managed to create all by himself. At this point, the Canadiens have nothing to lose and everything to gain from putting him back in the middle. So why is the team still hesitant to play him at centre? Maybe they are finally coming around after all.
  • Where does the team go from here? On paper, the Canadiens shouldn’t be as bad as their record indicates. On paper, the Canadiens shouldn’t be boasting the league’s 25th ranked offence despite icing a healthy Pacioretty, Drouin and Galchenyuk. On paper, the Canadiens’ only concern should be their worrisome defence. And yet, something seems to be fundamentally wrong with how the team is structured. Whether it be the fact the defence is passive with the puck, or that the offence is stagnant even on the man advantage, there seem to be too many flaws in the construction of the team. Too often, the Canadiens look slow, outmatched and as if they can’t manage to play consecutive periods of good hockey. As a general manager, how can Marc Bergevin fix this?