The Montreal Canadiens did not get off to the quickest of starts against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In fact, they were mostly kept in the game by the outstanding play of Carey Price once again. While the offence would need some time to wake up, Tomas Tatar provided them all the cushion they would need with Price locked in once again.
His first goal came as the result of not quitting on the play in the offensive zone. After Michael Chaput broke in, Tatar got himself in the right area to finish off Shea Weber’s rebound for the opening goal. It doesn’t have to be pretty, especially if your team is struggling a bit to start the game.
Tatar’s second goal of the night, however, required quite a bit more skill. Phillip Danault deserves a mountain of praise for his smart chip of the puck allowing Tatar to break free behind the Blue Jackets’ defence and create the breakaway chance. From there it was all skill from the Slovak, as he worked his edges to deke out Joonas Korpisalo, then roofed his shot for a two-goal edge in the second period.
The well-timed goals from Tatar helped to offset the shot disadvantage Montreal had piling up against them, and it gave his teammates the ability to play their best game with a lead safely intact.
His game was a microcosm of the season as a whole: if one line is held in check, another picks up the slack on the scoresheet. Max Domi was the star in Florida earlier this week, and last night it was Tatar’s turn to shoulder the offensive load.
With a heavy slate of games against Nashville, Toronto, and Tampa Bay coming in February, the Canadiens will need all of their lines clicking to match up. They’ll have chances to work any kinks out against the lowly Devils, Oilers, and Coyotes first, before meeting four playoff teams in a row.
Against Columbus, Tomas Tatar was at his best as he continues a career renaissance in Montreal, and if the Canadiens want to continue to compete with the Stanley Cup favourites, they’ll need plenty more games like he had against the Blue Jackets.