1. Making a statement
We all knew how important these two games would be, not only for the standings but to create the narrative for the rest of the season. The Canadiens have been chased — and momentarily passed — by the Senators this season, but taking the extra point was important, especially in the road half of the back-to-back.
2. The third line was great
The line of Phillip Danault, Andrew Shaw, and Artturi Lehkonen was all over the ice and controlled over 60 percent of the possession at even strength. Even before scoring two goals, they were dominant and were creating a bunch of scoring chances. People have talked about secondary scoring picking up, and this line has the potential to do just that.
Oh, and they did all of this on the road, without last change, against the line of Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel and Alexandre Burrows.
3. The first line was really good, too
They had over 50 percent of the shot attempts, and also created a bunch of scoring chances, despite not scoring. If they can keep that going, this team will be just fine — especially if the other lines play well. You can say that they don’t have a good game unless they score, but creating scoring chances is always a good thing.
4. Jordie Benn has been a great acquisition
Getting Benn for Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick is the type of trade that makes good teams into great teams. One play that Benn made that stuck out was when he lost the puck at the offensive blue line and then chased down the player on a breakaway, lifted his stick, and cleared the puck to stop the rush.
He is so steady and is a great third-pairing defenceman who you can trust to do his job every night. The fact that he takes about four minutes of penalty kill time away from Andrei Markov is just a big bonus.
5. Nathan Beaulieu should not be taken out of the lineup again
If there was any doubt after the last game against Chicago, there shouldn’t be anymore. Beaulieu controlled 65 per cent of the shot attempts at even strength when he was on the ice, despite starting two-thirds of his shifts in the defensive zone. And, again, this was without Claude Julien getting last change.
I know that Julien has said that it wasn’t anything Beaulieu did that got him scratched, but when he wants to rotate the defence, maybe he should choose someone else next time.
6. The Canadiens won the high danger scoring chances battle on the road, against a tough team
Final scoring chances were 28-24 for the Sens, 15-13 in high danger chances for the Habs, 17-16 in chances on net for the Habs.— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) March 19, 2017
7. Brendan Gallagher is starting to get lucky
We have said a bunch how Brendan Gallagher has been driving offence, and that is still true, but if he can start getting bounces like he did last night, it will be so important for this team, and individual players getting hot will be huge for this team because...
8. This team is starting to look like a contender
The results haven’t always been there but they are starting to turn around and they do what contending teams do. They are winning the possession battle, and they are starting to get the majority of high danger scoring chances as well.
Perhaps the most impressive stat is that Montreal is 11-17-3 when trailing after two periods. That is both the most wins and best points percentage of any team in the NHL. The fact that this team is believing that they can come back is huge, especially when every game will matter down the stretch and into the playoffs.
The team is also 22-1-3 when leading after two periods which is a pretty lethal combination. They are among the best third-period teams in the NHL and when your company is the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s always a good sign.
9. Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov in the shootout
Two shots, two goals, and a big shootout win. These might not be the two guys you would usually choose, but the Canadiens have a knack of picking the right guys to go in the shootout and it is nice that they were both able to make a difference in a game that both played well in.
10. Back at it again tonight
Last night the focus was on hockey. There were no dirty hits, no fights, and not really many extracurricular activities. It was fun to watch.
However, with a second game in two days, there might be a little more animosity and you know that the Senators will want to try and pull even with the Canadiens with a regulation win.