Jonathan Drouin had two goals and two assists to continue his masterful run with Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
It was Montreal’s third straight win. Carey Price made 32 saves to extend his personal winning streak to seven games.
The two teams traded chances in the opening minutes, including a dangerous looking shift from the line of Drouin, Danault, and Gallagher that generated two scoring chances, but the Jets took advantage of a bad change at the Montreal blue line. Kyle Connor broke in with Mark Scheifele on a two-on-one and Scheifele made no mistake to beat Carey Price and give the Jets and early 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens tied it shortly after when Drouin, and Gallagher combined for one that counted. Drouin drove the puck into the zone, and left the puck for Gallagher who did the dirty work behind the net to find Drouin who finished the play.
Drouin would continue his strong play and had five shots in the opening period and was generating chances every time he stepped on the ice.
Price would make key saves when tested, but the first period was in Montreal’s favour outshooting the Jets 18-11 but the score was tied at 1-1.
Drouin’s strong play continued in the opening minute of the second period when he broke in on a partial breakaway and beat Connor Hellebuyck with a snipe to the top corner.
Victor Mete almost got his first NHL goal (again) when he used his speed to create an end-to-end rush, but Hellebuyck made the save. Mete tied Lyle Odelein, playing his 93rd career NHL game without a goal.
The Jets fought back with Bryan Little getting a good chance in front of Price, but the Montreal goaltender made the save.
Hellebuyck made some saves of his own in the middle frame, stopping Gallagher after a pass from Victor Mete, and a desperate save on Nicolas Deslauriers after a nice pass from Charles Hudon, stretching out his pad.
He made another big save on the Canadiens’ first power play of the night. After Mete drew a tripping call, Drouin had a chance for the hat trick, but the Winnipeg goaltender was able to get his body across and Drouin missed his spot with the shot. He ended up making 48 saves on the night as the Canadiens had 53 shots.
On the Jets first power play, Price made a couple of big saves on Dustin Byfuglien and Scheifele to keep it a 2-1 game. The Canadiens would end up killing the penalty against a Winnipeg power play that has been at 33% over their last five games and they held the lead after 40 minutes.
In the third period, Shea Weber would blast a huge goal after Price came up big to start the period to give the Canadiens some breathing room and a 3-1 lead.
The Canadiens kept it going with a solid shift from the Drouin line and then Max Domi and Tomas Tatar combining for another scoring chance.
Things would get heated later in the period when Schiefele and Drouin got into a skirmish leading to some four-on-four hockey. Usually a sore spot for the Canadiens, Gallagher and Danault would combine to make it 4-1. It would be Danault’s fourth point of the game.
Drouin would get his fourth point when he set up Jesperi Kotkaniemi for the power play goal to make it 5-1. It was the fourth game in a row with a goal for Kotkaniemi, who became the fifth 18 year old in NHL history to do that.
Brendan Lemieux would avenge his earlier missed chance with a goal in the final minute to make the score 5-2, which is how it ended.
- Wow. That’s as good a game as the Canadiens have played in a long time against a top opponent. Winnipeg didn’t play their best game, but this was an impressive night for the Canadiens.
- When the Canadiens have all four lines contributing like they did on Thursday, it’s tough to stop them. When one of those lines is as dominant as Gallagher-Danault-Drouin has been, it’s almost impossible to stop them especially when Carey Price is on his game like he has been.
- Victor Mete continues to impress. Once he scores (if he scores?) he may not stop. He’s involved and generating really good plays at both ends of the ice
- Don’t look now (OK, you can look) but the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will be battling for second spot in the Atlantic Division on Saturday night. I don’t remember many games in recent history between these two teams where both teams are playing so well and are actually battling each other for positioning. The Leafs have two games in hand, but no one thought the Canadiens would be as close as they are to Toronto.