Game 23 Recap: Back to .500
Too often this season the Montreal Canadiens have lost games they deserved to win. This wasn't one of them.
After coming out and playing a near perfect road period and earning a 1-0 lead from the most unlikeliest of people, the Habs folded in the final 40 minutes as the Philadelphia Flyers came at them in waves no matter what the game situation.
Petteri Nokelainen got the Habs on the board in the first period after Hal Gill sent a shot into a crowd that took a fortunate bounce onto Nokia's stick. After out shooting the Flyers 8-5 and out chancing them 6-1 in the first however, that would be the last offensive highlight for Montreal.
The second period began with 5 straight scoring chances for the home team as Carey Price held the fort on numerous odd man rushes. In spite of carrying the play, the Flyers were dealt the short straw in the penalty as Montreal had 5 opportunities to Philadelphia's 2 through 40 minutes. It didn't really matter though as the Flyer's aggressive penalty killers forced constant mistakes on the point by Yannick Weber and Raphael Diaz.
After Jacques Martin made an adjustment and moved P.K. Subban up to the 1st wave of the PP with Tomas Plekanec, the costly mistakes were fewer but the production was the same. At no point did the powerplay look dangerous enough to score. Mike Cammalleri made a few slick passes and opened up lanes for teammates, but no one could get a meaningful chance.
The PP was at around a 20% clip since Perry Pearn was removed from his duties, but it has struggled mightily the last 3 games and gone 0 for 14.
Momentum from a series of botched PP opportunities seemed to make Claude Giroux turn into Sidney Crosby in the second period. He tied the game, created the chaos in the Habs zone that lead to the winning goal, then scored the insurance marker with just under 6 seconds left in the second.
This lead many in the mainstream media to complain about the 2006 on twitter, because clearly the only team to pass on Giroux was the Habs.
Scoring Summary from NHL.com
There are not many positives to take from a game where your team is out chanced 20-7 in the final 40 minutes (Check out Olivier Bouchard's site for full analysis) but the team is still killing of penalties in remarkable fashion, and maintained their streak without allowing a goal with 4/4 kills tonight. Aside from that, Carey Price once again was very solid. He stopped 9 straight Flyers scoring chances to keep the game close in the 3rd period, which could have been enough for a come back if the team had bothered to show up.
In all, it was the most disappointing game since the first matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who happen to be in Montreal tomorrow. Similar to that game, the Flyers were shorthanded tonight with Jaromir Jagr, Chris Pronger and James Van Riemsdyk out of the lineup. I guess it doesn't make sense to complain that the Habs couldn't take advantage when they're dealing with Andrei Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Scott Gomez, Jaroslav Spacek and Ryan White all being out as well, but it still feels like a missed opportunity.
Too many players tonight were either non-factors or worse. Alexei Emelin however continues to improve every game. It might be time for him to get more ice than Diaz, who continues to struggle in his own zone and was caught puck watching on a goal tonight.
Three Stars: 1) Claude Giroux 2) Jakub Voracek 3) Sergei Bobrovsky
Advanced Stats: Shift Charts / Head to Head / Corsi & Fenwick
Winning side of the equation from Broad Street Hockey
Read up on our next opponent at PensBurgh