After a disappointing loss to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, and a pair of less than enjoyable losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Habs faced off with the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night trying to end a four-game losing streak.
That is about where the positive news ends for this game unfortunately as Montreal failed to muster much of an attack, in spite of ample opportunities, while the Sharks made the most of their opponents errors in a 4-1 victory on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre
From the outset the Canadiens looked like the far better team, generating solid pressure on Aaron Dell and the San Jose defence. A pair of penalties by the Sharks added to this, giving the Habs a pair of power plays to put an early stamp on the game. Instead, the man advantage failed to come through in a crucial situation, something that’s become far too common a trend in Montreal, and plays a major factor in their current slumping form.
Then the poor luck that plagued Montreal so badly to start the season struck once more on the Sharks opening goal. Justin Braun took a pass from Joe Thornton back at his blueline, and fired it wide of the Canadiens net and Carey Price. That shot hit Thornton in the arm, dropped straight down and let the playmaking centre tap his self-made rebound in for the first goal of the night.
Again, it would be the Sharks who then handed the Canadiens a gift wrapped chance to tie the game, or shift the momentum in their favour when Joel Ward was called for tripping up Charles Hudon, who drew his second call of the period. Said power play would be cancelled out before long as Joe Morrow was caught with a tripping call of his own that sent the game to four-on-four hockey, before San Jose returned to the power play.
Joe Morrow, would end up in the spotlight again in the second period, and once again not for the best of reasons. Mikkel Boedker broke in off the wing, taking David Schlemko with him, to defend the pass and to take away the shot from Boedker. The Danish winger got off a poor shot that kicked off of Price and dribbled wide of the Canadiens netminder.
Morrow, as the trailing defenceman, had Marc-Edouard Vlasic covered, then inexplicably pulled up on the play, giving the Montreal native an easy backhand goal past a sprawling Carey Price.
There was a brief glimmer of a comeback for Montreal after that Sharks second goal, as the power play finally kicked into a gear other than neutral or reverse. The play started with Jonathan Drouin finding a soft space to operate within the offensive zone. From there he finds Alex Galchenyuk at the point. Galchenyuk picks out Max Pacioretty at the side of the net, and the Canadiens captain throws it off of Andrew Shaw for a power play goal.
Then it would be another moment in the spotlight for the unfortunate whipping boy of tonight’s loss, Joe Morrow. His late high sticking penalty put the Sharks back on the man advantage late in the period, and Timo Meier would take full advantage of it.
For reasons entirely unknown, Meier is given free reign to operate behind both of the Habs defencemen on the play. So when Kevin Labanc skated into the faceoff circle, he had a wide open Meier at the side of the net. One cross-zone pass later, Meier has a power play goal that restored the Sharks two goal lead, and put a nail into the coffin for the Habs.
Instead of coming out fired up to start the final period, Montreal finished digging their own grave for this game. Timo Meier burst through the offensive zone, leaving Karl Alzner in the dust on the play. With Alzner out of position and going to pick up his stick, Meier had all day to pick his spot from the faceoff dot. Even with Jakub Jerabek taking away the passing angle, Meier roofed the shot past Price and put the game entirely out of reach for a sputtering Canadiens side.
In spite of the close number of shots, the game never felt close after the Sharks third goal, the Canadiens offence is still missing in action and the defensive zone coverage has become a problem even Carey Price can’t seem to mask.
The Canadiens are back in action once more this week as they welcome the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Lightning to the Bell Centre, before facing the Canucks on Sunday evening. After that the team has an entire week off, and it’s pretty easy to say that these upcoming games could determine many futures in Montreal.
- It wasn’t pretty, the fans aren’t happy, and it’s obvious the players aren’t as well. Fans have their right to boo, hell they paid for the extremely expensive ticket, as long as they aren’t being offensive or derogatory, let them express their feelings. It’s obvious players are frustrated, but after a slump like this one, the expression is gone, and it looks like they just don’t care. I don’t doubt that the players care a ton, but after a dumb luck goal to open the scoring one has to wonder if that mental hurdle is just too big for a team like Montreal right now.
- The best and brightest in the world in terms of prospects have been lighting it up in Buffalo at the World Juniors tournament, and after several viewings there is a silver lining for what could be a lost season in Montreal. Top stars Brady Tkachuk, Filip Zadina, and obviously Rasmus Dahlin are all living up to the hype, even if the Habs don’t pick in the top three, there’s a lot of talent to look forward to in this years draft.