Montreal Canadiens @ Carolina Hurricanes
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Hurricanes region: Bally Sports South
Streaming: ESPN+, RDS Direct, TSN+
The Montreal Canadiens didn’t bring the level they’d used to defeat the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers on Super Bowl Weekend to Tuesday’s match with the Chicago Blackhawks. But the Blackhawks didn’t put up the same resistance they had shown in the month of January to double their season win total, either.
Neither team seemed interested in taking the two points in an opening period that brought a total of 12 shots, though the Canadiens did get a goal on the board on a power play. As the game went on, the Habs gradually began to take a bit more control of the action, and had a burst of offence in the third period to finish off the game by a 4-0 score.
Jake Allen’s first shutout of the season was Montreal’s third win in a row, unbeaten since the team returned from its bye week. It’s the first time since early November that they’ve hit that many consecutive victories. To extend it to four, they’ll need to take down the second-best team in the NHL.
Tale of the Tape
|44.4% (28th)||Scoring-chances-for %||59.5% (1st)|
|2.67 (29th)||Goals per game||3.30 (10th)|
|3.59 (26th)||Goals against per game||2.68 (7th)|
|16.7% (28th)||PP%||20.2% (20th)|
|73.4% (29th)||PK%||81.8% (7th)|
|0-3-0||H2H Record (21-22)||3-0-0|
Winning streaks are nothing new to the 2022-23 Carolina Hurricanes. They just had a seven-game run snapped on Saturday by the New York Rangers, and that’s only the second-longest string of wins they’ve managed this year, reeling off 11 in a row through December.
The Hurricanes’ 6-2 loss to the Rangers has those two teams just eight points apart in the standings, and the New Jersey Devils are wedged into the second seed between them. While Carolina may have only lost 10 times in regulation through 53 games, the club is still under pressure from below to maintain a high level of play.
Carolina has a sizable edge on every other team in scoring-chance share and expected-goals-for percentage this season, nearly 60% in both, but the reason that this race in the Metropolitan Division remains close is that their actual offensive output doesn’t match the underlying metrics. They rank only 10th in goals per game, with both the Devils and Rangers above them.
The team simply isn’t getting the contributions its used to from some top players. Sebastian Aho is churning out his usual point per game, but the numbers are down for Andrei Svechnikov (43 points in 50 games) and Teuvo Teravainen (just 26 through 46). Teravainen spent time on the Injured Reserve list earlier this season with an upper-body, and that could explain his reduced offensive totals.
Carolina made a splash when the free agency period opened last summer by trading for Brent Burns. The defenceman himself is having a solid season, already with 11 goals and 38 points, but Don Waddell surely expected more of an overall team effect from the 2017 Norris Trophy-winner’s arrival.
It’s the defencemen on Montreal’s side that are leading this current surge. We’ve mentioned that a few times already as a notable change from the opening portion of the season, but it’s now becoming a trend with blue-liners not only looking for more offence themselves, but moving up into better positions to help out the offence, as was the case with David Savard’s goal from close range on Tuesday.
No less impressive has been the play of Jonathan Drouin on Montreal’s third line. Three assists in Tuesday’s game bring his point total in the 13 games since the Christmas break to 12, and he has three multi-point games in his last six matches. He needs just seven more points to have his best year in Montreal since the 2018-19 season when he posted 53, embracing a role as playmaker as he attempts to settle back into that rhythm from four seasons ago. He and linemates Christian Dvorak and Joel Armia aren’t going to be given the same space to work with as they enjoyed versus the Oilers and Blackhawks, but they will get a few chances to keep their offence rolling.