Tuesday night could have gone badly for the Montreal Canadiens. The Vancouver Canucks were good, the officiating was not, and through 40 minutes it was very hard to envision the Habs leaving Vancouver with two points.
With the way things have been going lately for the Tricolore, it seemed inevitable that the home team would be taking the win.
An absurd tripping call on Tomas Tatar gave the Canucks their first and only lead of the night. Tatar has admittedly been in the box more than you want to see this year, but it’s quite hard to jump on him for that particular infraction when Jake Virtanen went down easier than my first beer after a long week at work.
Then the officials inexplicably called back a goal for the Canadiens, ostensibly due to goaltender interference. It would have made it 2-1 for the Habs heading into the third, but somehow Artturi Lehkonen was guilty of obstruction despite clearly being pushed into Jacob Markstrom.
There was every reason to believe that the Habs were going to lose, especially given their recent misfortune and inability to generate goals. It almost felt inevitable.
Then, the third period happened.
The power play was crucial to the reversal of fortune on the night. They didn’t get a single opportunity through 40 minutes, but they got one early in the third, and made quick work of breaking the tie thanks to a crazy effort by Phillip Danault to set up Tomas Tatar.
What a play by Phillip Danault to get this puck to Tomas Tatar for his 13th goal of the year. pic.twitter.com/HwTYYpgs3V— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 18, 2019
And since Danault drew a penalty to boot, they went right back to work with Shea Weber extending the lead. I know how shocked our readers will be to hear this; but I was going to write a lengthy and pointed complaint about the officials until the Habs power play made that a moot point. I appreciate them saving me from that misery.
The power play has been the biggest improvement this team has seen over last year. It is still middling in the NHL on the season, but that is a significant leap from what they were a year ago. They are at least somewhat dangerous, and they were rewarded for that in Vancouver.
Danault — and I can’t stress this enough — made an absurdly beautiful play to both draw a penalty, and set up a goal to capitalize on that which was already on the board. Weber found himself all alone on the back door during the penalty that Danault drew, and he dunked it.
Carey Price played very well, and he deserved to get the result he did. The Habs could have floated around feeling sorry for themselves about the questionable Zebra decisions, but they went out and did right by their goaltender. Ironically, the Zebras doing what they’re there to do created the chances to make it right. Thankfully, the Habs capitalized on those chances.
There is still a lot of work to do, and here’s to hoping that the Canadiens can deal with adversity the way they did last night.