Canadiens vs. Predators 10 Takeaways: Secondary scoring wins it

P.K Subban’s return to Montreal is spoiled by the Canadiens’ middle six.

1. P.K. Subban still means a lot to the city of Montreal.

If the reception he received during his pre-game ceremony wasn’t any indication, P.K. Subban still means a lot to the people of Montreal and the fans of the Montreal Canadiens. I don’t think P.K. Subban was the only person to shed a tear during that emotional moment. (Did I? Nope. Not me.)

2. The Canadiens’ breakouts and zone entries are fast now.

Under Michel Therrien, watching the Canadiens bring the puck up the ice was like watching a football game: the Habs would grind their way through the neutral zone and Hail Mary it into the offensive zone and then battle to try to win back the puck. Now, the goal is to carry the puck up the ice with speed in a controlled fashion, to the point where forwards will often pass the puck back to a defenceman for a restart if the breakout can’t gather any momentum while coming up the ice.

3. But that doesn’t really help when you’re having trouble completing passes.

The Habs were pretty horrendous in the passing department. The disconnect in the passing game led to more drives to the offensive zone, including on Brendan Gallagher’s game-tying goal in the third period.

4. It’s like the Habs need to take out a loan to afford goals.

While it’s been frustrating to watch at times, you can’t discredit the Habs for digging deep into their pockets to pay for the goals they’re scoring. They’re not giving up, and over the past four games that’s exactly why they’ve won.

5. Jordie Benn and Nathan Beaulieu are a great pairing.

Nathan Beaulieu may have found his match made in heaven. Two games played together and he and Jordie Benn are starting to click. Benn’s steady stay-at-home style provides a great compliment to Beaulieu’s puck-moving ability, speed and offensive leanings. Last night the two played another solid game, maintaining positive five-on-five possession numbers despite getting half of their starts in the defensive zone.

6. This game got heated very quickly.

All it took was a hit from behind that wasn’t called in the second period by Mike Fisher on Alexei Emelin to take this game from intense to nasty. Had the refs made a call on that play a lot of the frustration that went on display for the remainder of the period probably wouldn’t have reached a boiling point, but from then on it was destined to be a touchy game.

7. This game felt like a playoff game as soon as the Habs tied it.

The excitement, as well as the nerves, started to rise after Brendan Gallagher tied it midway through the third period. The Canadiens taking a penalty immediately after tying it added to the drama, and then of course, the way it ended gave this game the feel of game played in mid-April and not one played on the second day of March.

8. Carey Price has his name all over this win.

Carey Price was very busy last night, and with his team down 1-0 he didn’t seem wavered and kept the Habs in it even though a lot of us probably thought the Canadiens were not going to be able to score anyway. That’s the fourth win in a row for the Habs where goaltending has put its stamp on the win, which, like it or not, is a large part of this team’s identity.

9. Paul Byron’s determination on the game-winning-goal was playoff-level.

Paul Byron’s skate up the ice was the exact kind of determination you want to see when it’s all on the line. The mentality that’s starting to develop with this team is interesting to observe right now as we approach the home stretch of the regular season. With every game being important, and the margin of error shrinking, the effort needed to win will need to be exactly on the level of what Paul Byron and the rest of his teammates brought to the ice last night. No, the Canadiens were not perfect, and they will need to figure out ways to generate offence if they’re going to go anywhere, but they were in the game for the entirety of it last night, and in the end they found a way to win through intense, determined effort.

10. It didn’t take overtime to win.

The Habs won in regulation. That’s right. With a whole 8.3 seconds left too!

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