I swear I read several reports this summer about Ron MacLean no longer being a part of Hockey Night in Canada. Anyhow, after several painful puns, we’re on to another Canadiens game.
- A loud ovation for Martin St-Louis as he’s introduced. Overall, a very subdued introduction of the players with no music or props of any kind. Laval’s had a lot more energy on Friday night.
- It did allow you to hear the cheers for the players more, and, unsurprisingly, Arber Xhekaj gets a big one, and arguably the
- About 10 minutes later than the usual 7:15 Saturday night puck drop, we’re ready for some hockey.
- And a whole lot of Garry Galley.
- The energy of the opening minutes matches that of the intros.
- A good rush from the third line gets the game’s first chance. They need to show more play like that after a rough first night.
- Two consecutive shifts spent in the offensive zone: good. Drawing a power play because of it: bad.
- Nick Suzuki is playing low on Cole Caufield’s side, trying to open a lane for one of them to get a shot off.
- Interestingly, the second unit compressed the zone a lot more; Xhekaj was standing just above the top of the circles for his quarterbacking duties, like the Maple Leafs do on theirs.
- Chances are coming in a flurry now. It’s nice to hear oohs instead of boos while the Habs are up a man.
- Rafaël Harvey-Pinard just about opens the scoring, but his shot glances off the post.
- Montreal’s penalty kill still has issues, and now they’re down two players.
- Jake Evans just about set up RHP to put Montreal on top on a short-handed rush. Using his speed to his advantage.
- Samuel Montembeault is looking very sharp on this kill.
- Kaiden Guhle ends a cycle by picking up his man and throwing him to the ice.
- Just like in Wednesday’s game, the opponent is really only looking dangerous with extra players on the ice.
- The Blackhawks decide they’re going after Cole Caufield, and no Habs on the ice is going to stand for that. Josh Anderson is the first into the fray.
- The net result is: Canadiens power play.
- The loudest ovation of the night goes to Paul Byron, who is shown on the screen after a TV timeout.
- Galley is providing too much praise for this power play.
- Matheson stood on the blue line for his minute, and it’s just not as effective as the compressed formation. Both waves just chased the puck around trying to gain possession.
- Kirby Dach gets knocked into the Blackhawks bench by Jarred Tinordi, and seems to have hurt something on his lower body. He eventually makes his way to the dressing room. He’s cursed that man.
- Montreal is falling into the same disconnected style of their opponent now, just reacting to the movement of the puck. That doesn’t bode well for the second period which is always a struggle for Montreal.
- Nick Suzuki gets a penalty for bumping his man in the back as the puck approaches. I don’t think they would even call that pass interference in the NFL.
- One last chance follows a bit of quick passing on a rush, but the Canadiens weren’t able to do enough of that in the period after their hot start.
- The second period begins with an announcement that Dach won’t be back. He was clearly dealing with something in the pre-season, and it must have been aggravated by the Tinordi hit.
- Montreal doesn’t play again until Tuesday, so there are a few days for Dach to recover.
- A great move by Josh Anderson to deke his way into the zone is matched by an equally great deke by Caufield to get around his defenceman. The initial shot is stopped, but Caufield bats the puck in out of mid-air.
- On pace for 82 goals.
- The Canadiens have a more focused approach in this second period. Chicago is generating very little outside of one shot for Connor Bedard.
- Juraj Slafkovský is starting to have the crowd buzzing when he gets the puck around the net. I think he’s going to be fine.
- Tanner Pearson helps Montreal make the most of its possession with a shot that zips past Petr Mrazek’s glove. That’s a good start to building up some pre-deadline trade value.
- Nick Foligno gets a chance our of nowhere and Jordan Harris loses him and Xhekaj scrambles to make a desperation play. Bedard goes back to work.
- RHP has his third look from about six feet away on a short-handed breakaway.
- Now a short-handed chance for Guhle, and that’s fun.
- Guhle has now gone to the room. The Canadiens may be controlling the play, but they are paying for it tonight. It hasn’t even been that physical a game.
- And he’s back!
- The Blackhawks get their first shot in about 10 minutes and draw a cll on the play as David Savard chopped the hands of Cole Guttman.
- Joke’s on them. Sean Monahan scores short-handed. Harvey-Pinard decided he’d have better luck being the passer than the shooter while short-handed.
- Corey Perry tries to draw a penalty versus Xhekaj, but not only does he take a few shots from the big defenceman, he ends up in the box as well.
- Not the start the Canadiens wanted as Tyler Johnson scores in the first minute. Mike Matheson is going to be vocal on the bench about not letting another lead slip away.
- But first Matheson is going to go hold the puck behind the net and set up a chance for Alex Newhook. The best defence is a good offence, they say.
- But now he’s the one in the penalty box after getting a stick in the vicinity of Blackhawks player’s hands.
- Montembeault comes up big yet again to keep the lead at two.
- Things are all a bit too panicked here again. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for Martin St-Louis to use his timeout at some point soon to calm everyone down a bit. No point in waiting until the lead is down to one to use it.
- Slafkovský is throwing Blackhawks at each other, and maybe that’s an even better defence than offence.
- More goals would be great, but the Habs don’t need to force one with a two-goal lead. Their defence has been caught too high a few times.
- Johnson scores again with 90 seconds to go. Savard would probably more more effective at defending if he weren’t laying prone on the ice at the side of the crease.
- In danger of blowing another two-goal lead. What is the response?
- The final 21 seconds will be played at six-on-four as Bedard gets high-sticked by Monahan.
- Seth Jones hits a post, and that’s the last chance. A bit closer than it should have been given the way the game was played overall, but it’s a 3-2 win, and three of a possible four points to open the season.
EOTP 3 Stars
3) He’s looking like a proper threat once more
2) You don’t mess with a Powerpony
1) Maybe he’s the new Lehkonen?