Canadiens vs. Stars 10 Takeaways: Beaulieu, Pacioretty and Radulov, oh my!
In their second game in as many nights, Alex Radulov, Max Pacioretty and Nathan Beaulieu combined to lead the Canadiens over the Stars in their 5th consecutive OT game.
1. Whistlin’ Dallas
How many whistles did we hear in the first minute alone? Five? Forty-two? Same thing, really. All those early stoppages set the tone for a quiet first half of the period that didn't see a ton of action early on. Despite the slow start, the Habs kept turning the Stars away and kept the pressure coming as they maintained consistent control in the offensive zone. They didn’t exactly steamroll the Stars into submission, but hard work in front of the net from a number of players eventually paid off as they were the ones to break the 0-0 tie.
2. Beaulieu gets the goal he wanted in Nashville
Beaulieu could have incinerated Pekka Rine with his glare on Wednesday night when the Predators goaltender made a save so ridiculous that Radulov celebrated the non-goal anyway. He more than made up for it when he walked in ever so smoothly and beat Lehtonen to get the first goal (and assisted on every other goal of the night). He had another great chance in the second period that screamed off the crossbar, but as last night proved, good things come to those who keep shooting. Just look at Jeff Petry.
Beaulieu, who is playing his best hockey of late, is just another Hab who has made the most of an injury-riddled lineup, and he had himself a career high three point game as a direct result of his tremendous efforts.
3. Seriously, though. Danault
A beauty of a shot though it may have been, Beau mostly had good ole #24 to thank for putting in all the hard work down low that led to getting the puck on his defenseman’s stick. Danault was the hero of the first period when he got his stick down just in time before an errant puck could slide over the goal line and past Montoya, who had lost track of the puck.
He's playing with more and more confidence every time he steps on the ice . Like Beaulieu, he’s wasted no time in capitalizing on the misfortunes of his injured teammates as he’s worked his way up from the fourth to the first line, and hasn’t looked at all out of place in any role. He has certainly been the silver lining to this team’s injury woes.
Gallagher was absolutely flying all night—passing pucks to himself, blocking shots and holding zones. And that’s before we talk about battles for the puck and the wars he rages in front of the net. With Gallagher and Pacioretty looking like their old selves and Danault performing admirably in the #1 C spot until Galchenyuk makes his return, this top trio is not looking bad at all. Of course, we'll have to keep an eye on Gallagher's hand injury going forward.
5. Montoya stood on his head
The Big Cubano channeled his inner Dominik Hasek but was also smiled upon by Lady Luck as Montoya danced around his crease all night. Whether he was ninja-kicking pucks out of the air, head-butting them down with seconds left to go in the third, or sprawling across the crease à la Dominator, Montoya fought hard for his team. To say he had an active night would be an understatement. While it’s hard to compare him to the statuesque presence of Carey Price in net, I don’t think I’ve seen Montoya move this much since he started in Montreal this fall. It was fun and terrifying to watch, as more than a handful of his highlight-reel saves were rather heart attack inducing.
6. They had one of those second periods
As they sat back on a tied game and bagged back to back penalties, I was horribly transported back to December 2015 when they fell 6-2 in Dallas in a hard to watch performance that started with a woeful second period. When things started to slide in the second frame this time around, the anxiety settled into the pit of my stomach, but they held on until the third, where they came out looking to get things back on an even playing field.
7. But Dallas had one of those (early) third periods
Rather similarly to the Habs, Montreal capitalized on the lacklustre showing for Dallas’ PK unit on back-to-back penalties. Throw in a handful of icing calls on the Stars and a speedy team that will make you pay, Dallas went from leading by one to trailing by one in a matter of minutes. The Stars would eventually come back to tie the game 3-3 late in the third, but the results may have come out in their favor had they come out in the third as committed as le Tricolore.
8. Radulov keeps ‘em coming
Extending his point streak to five games, Radulov has certainly come back to life in the last couple of weeks, and is showing that he doesn’t just need Alex Galchenyuk to produce offensively — probably because he’s also not afraid of getting the job done himself when he needs to.
There had been some talk about the fire in his belly being doused in Chucky’s absence, but I’m sure he’s since silenced naysayers by burning them with the bonfire that’s taken its place.
And no talk of Canadiens naysayers would be complete without mentioning Captain Clutch, who has six points (4G, 2A) in his last five games. Pacioretty is burning right along with #47 and it only means great things for this hockey club.
With these two putting up points like crazy, things will certainly get interesting once Galchenyuk returns.
9. Welcome back, power play
We’re seeing an increase in power play production from the Habs, where they’ve struggled through the month of December. Going two for three on the evening, they used their speed and their shooters to their advantage. Their efforts rewarded them with game-tying and go-ahead goals, which were more than needed after an iffy second period.
10. Please don’t leave us,
Both Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher went down last night, which will likely strike fear in the hearts of Habs fans everywhere. With Byron just coming into his own and Gallagher finally getting back his stride, more injuries are precisely the last thing this team needs, especially when it comes to the players in question.
While there was no update on Byron, it doesn’t look good for Gallagher, who will return straight to Montreal to meet with doctors in favor of accompanying the team on the last leg of their road trip. We can only hope that they both recover as fast as they skate.