Canadiens vs. Sharks 10 Takeaways: Habs push for 40 minutes, but can’t overcome early deficit
It was another case of a solid outing undone by a few timely errors.
1. An early deficit
The Habs gave up two goals early, including a 2-on-0 situation where Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski found themselves all alone in front of Carey Price. Unsurprisingly, they made Montreal pay for the offensive-turnover that led to the chance.
Michel Therrien’s patented blender was in full display all game long. A lineup that saw Torrey Mitchell centring the first line, was quickly meddled with as left wingers Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen, and Max Pacioretty found themselves bounced around all four lines throughout the game.
But credit must be given to the coach for creating the most optimal lineup by placing Pacioretty with Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov, promoting Lehkonen to the second line alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher, while sending Byron down to the third line with the David Desharnais and Andrew Shaw duo.
He also deserves credit for sticking with Galchenyuk despite his turnover that led to the eventual game-winner. Galchenyuk was second among forwards in time on ice behind Pacioretty, and his 19:59 total was his highest of the season to date.
3. Brian Flynn made his return
Flynn took Daniel Carr’s spot on the roster, but played a pretty good game overall. Though he looked rusty at times, Flynn did not look too out of place on the fourth line, and had two of the team’s more dangerous chances on the night.
4. The Canadiens looked predictable
The San Jose Sharks didn’t look like they had much trouble limiting Montreal’s offence to taking shots from further out and often seemed to be right where an attempted Habs pass was headed, taking advantage of the turnovers to launch odd-man rushes to generate their own scoring chances.
The Sharks has clearly done their homework, and that understanding of their opponent’s style coupled with their league-best positional structure helped them immensely in a game that they were mostly out-possessed.
5. A new style
The Canadiens eschewed their typical style of defence-first play to push for a goal in the second period. Pulling all their skaters in close, the Habs left their goaltender as their lone line of defence. Price being Price, he rose to the occasion and didn’t let another goal get past him, making multiple memorable saves in the process and letting his skaters continue their offensive press.
With Price in net, that’s a tactic that could be employed more often, though preferably the team won’t be trying to come from behind as often as it has in recent games.
6. Bad luck a factor
Between two shots ringing off the post, players missing wide-open nets, either by opting to pass or shoot wide, or having shots plucked out of the air, luck did not favour the Canadiens. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Montreal outshot and outplayed their opponents for the majority of the game and still lost. The Canadiens continue to be a Jekyll and Hyde team when it comes to winning while also putting up solid underlying numbers.
7. Pateryn and Barberio had a great game
Montreal controlled a significant portion of even-strength shot attempts while the duo was on the ice, with Barberio finishing with a game-high Corsi-for percentage of 73.7% and Pateryn third at 68.2%.
Each player has a good set of skills, with Barberio being more skewed to the offensive aspects of the game and Pateryn the defensive, and it seems to be working well.
8. Cue the comeback...
With Logan Couture serving a four-minute minor for high-sticking Alex Radulov in the face, the Canadiens got to work on the power play. Radulov wasn’t out on the ensuing man advantage, leaking blood all over the ice and needing to get repairs, but Montreal was able to manage without him. Sending out four forwards and one defensemen paid off in a big way when Artturi Lehkonen was able to spoil Jones’ shutout bid.
9. Or not
That’s was as close as the Canadiens would come to threatening the Sharks’ first-period lead. With time working against them, a last ditch effort to ice an extra skater by pulling Price didn’t work in their favour. Though Shea Weber was able to make a spectacular save to prevent the Sharks from adding an empty-net goal, and having seconds added back on the clock because of a late offside that went against the Sharks, Montreal couldn’t muster any more shots on net as the game came to an end.
10. Another L in San Jose
It has been 17 years and counting since the Canadiens last won in San Jose, back in 1999. A little-known fact? The last Canadiens club to beat the Sharks was actually coached by Michel Therrien, as well. You can check out more info on that game on November 23, 199 right here.