The Canadiens did not want to let more points against a non-playoff opponent slip away from them, but that’s exactly what they would do.
It started off well for them, with Alex Galchenyuk almost making his move to the wing pay immediate dividends as he found himself with the puck facing an open net only to be robbed by the sprawling block of Hurricanes’ forward Derek Ryan.
Galchenyuk would get a second chance at glory a couple of shifts later. After Jordie Benn laid out Jaccob Slavin with a monstrous hit, Arturri Lehknonen made a quick transition and sent Andrew shaw in on a two-on-one with Galchenyuk who made no mistake potting it into a wide open net after receiving a perfect cross-crease pass from Shaw.
The lead would be short-lived, as Alexei Emelin took a penalty less than ten minutes later. The Hurricanes converted on the subsequent man advantage after Max Pacioretty lost his stick, allowing for the passing lanes around him to open up until eventually Teuveo Teravainen found Elias Lindholm down low, and all by himself, Lindholm was able to pop an awkward shot into the open side of the net.
After one period of play the Canes led 9-8 in shots on net and 16-12 in shot attempts. The game was much closer than the Habs wanted it to be, and they responded in the second period by going with the Shaw line and almost got back in the lead on the first shift of the second period if not for a sharp save by Eddie Lack off a shot by Galchenyuk.
The Canadiens started to fade after a strong start to the period, and by the midway point in the game, the Hurricanes were leading in shots on net and in possession, controlling 59 percent of the total shot attempts.
When tested, Eddie Lack was strong, making a number of saves when the game was 1-1 to keep his team level. Late in the second period, the Canadiens came on strong, and Lack stood tall, giving his team the chance to take advantage, and with 39 seconds left in the second period, Lee Stempniak took a backhand shot as he pressed into the offensive zone that deflected off Alexei Emelin’s stick and gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead.
The Canadiens came out with another strong start to a period to begin the third, with Shaw, Artturi Lehkonen and Galchenyuk getting things started again. The Canadiens poured on the pressure for the first four and half minutes of the period, but would then find themselves down by two goals 5:11 in when Lee Stempniak was found wide open in front of Carey Price by Jeff Skinner to put home his second goal of the game.
The Canadiens were awarded a powerplay midway through the third period but were not able to get set up and spent most of the man advantage chasing the puck or trying to find a way into the Hurricanes’ zone. The opportunity to get back in the game seemed to be passing them by.
In the final twelve minutes of the third period, the Canadiens would go on to record just six shot attempts and three shots on net. The Hurricanes sealed the deal with an empty-netter at 17:57 to put the final stamp on this one, a 4-1 loss for the Canadiens.
- The Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins at home last night and pulled to within one point of the Canadiens with one game at hand. Once again, the Canadiens must beat the Senators this weekend to hold onto first place in the Atlantic. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not the end of the world. Unless of course they lose Saturday.
- The Habs lost two in a row to two non-playoff teams and only scored twice. It’s not a good sign, but is this just an anticlimax to a very intense and successful weekend? The Habs regressed back to a team incapable of scoring, unable to maintain that perpetual ability to produce offense that a few elite teams in the league have figured out for the playoffs. The Canadiens continue to look for answers in that department.
- Is Alex Galchenyuk better at center or on the wing? Taking Galchenyuk off of faceoff duty seems to be the idea behind the move to the wing. Galchenyuk was often in the middle of the ice, and his line along with Shaw and Lehkonen was actually very dynamic in their positions in the offensive zone. Wherever Galchenyuk plays, as long as he can be a threat is where he should be, and if it’s possible to create this scenario without him being a liability while not minimizing how much of a threat he can be, then it could be the right move for now. For the record, Shaw went 29% in the faceoff dot, whereas Galchenyuk won both draws when called upon.