After a pair of disappointing games against the Calgary Flames, Josh Anderson noted that his team was going to come out strong and battle for every puck against the Winnipeg Jets. Not only did the Montreal Canadiens do that, Anderson was a leading example right from the outset of the game. His diving effort to keep a scoring play alive led directly to Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s opening goal, and established the tone.
Anderson not only pressured the Jets defender collecting the puck to start the play in motion, but his diving swipe to Jonathan Drouin was the cherry on top of it all. Anderson wasn’t content with just a secondary assist on the night, and he added a power play goal on top of that.
It wasn’t pretty, but Anderson setting himself into a position to take advantage of a scramble in front of the net is something the team had lacked during their struggles.
It wasn’t just the veteran winger who came prepared for battle against the Jets. Rookie Alexander Romanov made his presence felt in a big way in the defensive zone. He set his sights on Nikolaj Ehlers on multiple occasions, and got the best of the feisty Dane, so much so that Ehlers himself was shocked after the game.
Nik Ehlers says he did see Montreal's Alex Romanov coming on Romanov's monstrous hit.— Murat Ates (@WPGMurat) March 16, 2021
"I just didn't know he was that solid."
Romanov caught Ehlers with his head down along the boards, and in response Ehlers tried his best to get even, only to find himself right back on the ice.
The two came together later in the game, with the same result of Romanov knocking Ehlers down. This time Ehlers got right into Romanov’s face, and the rookie defender gave it right back to the Jets forward, who relented and headed off for a change.
The Canadiens have been, and will continue to be, tested in various ways as the season rolls on. Last night was about not quitting on plays, and not backing down from challenges in front of them. Anderson set the tone, and Romanov followed it up in his own, physical way.
There’s a rematch on Wednesday night, and the Habs will need this same mindset against a Jets team bent on evening the score.