For the Montreal Canadiens, last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes was an important one. Coming off a rough loss against the Minnesota Wild, a bounceback was absolutely necessary. And the response they had, despite a few hiccups, was the best they could have asked for.
In their white jerseys, the Canadiens started off the first period outplaying one of the top possession teams in the NHL, with the majority of the offensive-zone pressure, controlling most of the high-danger chances as well. An early penalty kill was the biggest test for the Canadiens, with the Hurricanes’ best chance going off the goalpost. The opening frame ended without a goal, though with various opportunities for both teams.
The Hurricanes were the first to strike in the second, as rookie Andrei Svechnikov opened the scoring with a backhand shot to beat Carey Price clean, setting the tone for what would become a high-scoring skill game.
Svechnikov continued to be a factor in the game shortly after his opening goal, getting in the face of Habs’ netminder, garnering a reaction heard by everyone in the rink toward the referee. Carolina had another wonderful chance following that incident, with Price shutting the door on Jamie McGinn with an unreal glove save.
Montreal and Carolina exchanged a few penalties resulting in a 4-on-3 power play for the Habs, but after some great rotational play they were unable to beat Petr Mrazek.
Following that, Matthew Peca broke the tie after using a Carolina defender as a screen, with a shot to the top corner.
Jeff Petry struck three minutes after that, with an absolutely beautiful shot, continuing a season in which he’s been one of the most consistent blue-liners for Montreal.
Jeff Petry picks the far corner for his sixth of the year, Habs lead 2-1. pic.twitter.com/g9L1TBhTvK— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 14, 2018
The Canadiens kept their feet moving for the rest of the period, denying the Hurricanes any opportunities to convert before the end of the second frame, but it didn’t stay that way for long.
With the third period opening on Svechnikov’s second of the night, the Canadiens offence went to work, and, for the most part, never looked back. The only issue for the Canadiens on the night was the power play, as they were gifted several opportunities to take full control of the game, but found the same issues that have plagued their man advantage this season.
Even-strength scoring came early and often in the final frame, as both Brendan Gallagher and Artturi Lehkonen scored soon after the Hurricanes tied it, both taking it to the blue paint and giving Mrazek trouble. Lehkonen’s goal in particular was one you’ll want to see again.
Carolina proved they weren’t going to go away easily, quickly putting up the pressure on the Canadiens near the midway point of the third. The result was a similar goal to the one Petry had scored, this time from Jaccob Slavin.
Shea Weber made sure the lead didn’t get too tight, showing off his versatility with a wonderful and rather underrated pass to Andrew Shaw, who has been on an absolute tear in the last few games for the Canadiens.
It was a full 200-foot play by the Habs captain. Beginning with his physicality and ability to cause a turnover, the play later saw him jumping into the play not shortly after, and finishing with a clean pass right on to the tape of Shaw’s stick before it gets put past Mrazek.
Despite the Hurricanes getting one back late, the Canadiens held them at bay. Petry put the icing on the cake with his second of the game on a long-range shot on the empty net, giving the Habs the 6-4 win.
- The Habs showed their resilience following the meltdown in Minnesota, with a different mindset off the bat. They were scoring goals right after a Hurricane marker, and refused to allow consecutive goals all night long.
- After a poor bit of defending on the first goal of the night, Weber responded immediately with a better performance. He upped his physical play and was fantastic the rest of the game.
- The Habs’ power play shows signs of life, but when a team covers the main weapon in the form of Weber, the top unit seems to have limited options. Shifting the alignment will be necessary soon.
- Price allowed a few, but looked good when he had to be, and his recent resurgence has been holding the Habs together. His ability to bounce back after a goal showed in a big way after the Svechnikov marker. He’s been perhaps the best Hab of late.