We’ve seen it time and time again. The Montreal Canadiens open up a lead, only to sit back and let the other team attack them while they hope that time expires before the lead goes away.
Going into the third period on Tuesday night with a 2-0 lead against a Philadelphia Flyers team just as desperate as they are, nobody would blame you for being a bit apprehensive.
But even though the Canadiens did give up a goal on the penalty kill, they dominated the period at even strength. In fact, the Flyers power play in the third was the only reason the shot totals for the period even appeared close.
In the 17:17 of even strength in the period, according to Natural Stat Trick, Montreal held an 11-5 shot advantage, a 21-15 shot attempt advantage, 8-2 scoring chance advantage and 2-0 high danger chance advantage.
It was their best period in terms of percentage for all four of those statistics and was a major reason why they came away with the 3-1 win. They showed an instinct to attack in the third instead of sitting back, and that’s the path they need to take if they want to make a run to the playoffs.
For most of this season, even strength success has been the Canadiens’ recipe for success especially with their issues on the power play. If they keep attacking and playing the same game with a lead as they do in a tied game, that bodes well for the remaining nine games of the season.
Nothing is guaranteed for the Canadiens right now. All they can do is put the odds as much in their favour as possible, and they can do that by playing a full 60 minutes of their brand of hockey. It won’t work every night, but it worked Tuesday night and that’s all that matters, at least until Thursday night.