Ten takeaways from the Canadiens vs. Hurricanes Game: Another night of firsts

The season is coming to a close, but the careers of quite a number of Habs are just beginning, including Charlie Lindgren's.

1. Welcome to the NHL, Charlie Lindgren!

Although the opening minutes were ones to forget for Lindgren, with the Hurricanes scoring less than two minutes in, he settled down well as his team finally got their skates under them. Three moments in particular stand out. There was a flurry of saves half way through the second period, which allowed the Habs to keep the game under control, the entire sequence in the last minute of the third, including a frantic double pad stack, and the stone cold robbery of Jeff Skinner in the last 30 seconds of the game

He may have given up his first NHL goal against on his first shot, but he also got his first win.

2. The second line was strong all night.

Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, and Daniel Carr came out hard, and never looked back. The forced the Hurricanes to play them in their own zone, were strong on the puck, and were in general fun to watch. All three finished the night with positive possession numbers, and picked up a point each.

Carr picked up his first game winning goal, and sixth goal of the year, from exactly the same spot he'd scored his first, and continues to be a second Gallagher. Plekanec's assist on the goal gives him 40 on the year, 53 points all told, and number 81 scored the final goal of game 81.

3. Habs' uber-depth blueliners acquitting themselves well.

Therrien, probably both out of necessity, and through greater confidence in them, is relying on his rookie defencemen more and more, to some effect. Hanley, with the least amount of minutes, still played 15:18, and lead the entire team with a sparkling 77.78% even strength Corsi for, and together with Darren Dietz, played the second half of the Habs' only penalty kill.

Dietz had himself a night, scoring his first NHL goal, and boy was it ever a beauty. Pump fake, delay for days, and then blasted past Cam Ward. His 72.73% ES CF was good for third on the team, and he was a noticeable force for good all over the ice. One of the few nice things about this crazy season has been seeing guys as far down the defensive depth chart as Hanley and Dietz making good on their unexpected NHL time. Ryan Johnston also looked right at home.

4. The three regular Habs' defencemen also came out strong. Mostly.

Except for the entirely too effective screening of his own goalie, and the less-than-ideal ES 44.44% CF, Emelin had yet another reasonably good game. He had four shots on net, but can't seem to buy a goal.

Greg Pateryn finished the night with a 61.29 CF%, dealt out several big hits, had some really solid defensive plays, including a big one in the third to break up a two on one against Skinner and Pesce, and overall had a really excellent night. The General's 37th assist of the year gives him a career total of 421, tying him with the Rocket himself for assists all time.

5. Sometimes luck goes in the Habs' favour.

Max Pacioretty's 28th of the season was an incredible fluke off Cam Ward's arm. This season has been full of so many unlucky bounces, unlucky breaks, and unlucky injuries that any luck that goes in the Habs' favour is all the more unexpected and delightful.

Moreover, for all this nonsense about Pacioretty having issues, he's hit 60 points, and nearly 30 goals in an abysmal scoring year even by Habs' standards. But please, go on tell me how bad he is, and what an awful season he's had.

6. Speaking of the first line...

Can you say chemistry?

Together, Gallagher (4), Galchenyuk (2), and Pacioretty (6!!) accounted for 12 of the team's 31 shots on goal.

It's been so nice to see a real first line again after so long.

7. Everyone else.

Andrighetto registered all four of the third line's shots, and Danault quietly had a a good night. Possession wise, they were the Habs' best line. The fourth line, on the other hand, got caved in. Which brings me to...

8. Why Mike Brown?

Although Mike Brown did not hurt the Habs quite as obviously this game as he has in others, his huge (and useless) second period hit was part of the play that eventually led to the second Hurricanes goal. While Emelin's screen of Lindgren was at least as much (if not more) to blame for the goal against, Brown is still taking up a roster spot much better filled by a Jacob de la Rose, or Michael McCarron, or Charles Hudon, or really just about anyone else in the team.

9. Strong possession game

The strong play of the kids, the return of a number of key players (*coughBrendanGallagherAndDanielCarrcough*), and a particularly good night over all saw the Habs finish the game with a positive possession game in every period. Score effects? What score effects? It makes a nice change.

10. Can't tank for winning

If they had lost tonight, the Habs could have risen (or fallen, depending on how you chose to view it) to seventh in the draft.

Of course, in this highly contrarian season, now that losing best serves the long term benefit of the team, the Habs are finally playing good hockey again. On one hand, it's really great to see rookies and veterans alike playing well...on the other, why couldn't they have done this ages ago?

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