Through 40 minutes, Carey Price kept the Canadiens in the game Saturday night.
The home team had a 14-9 shot advantage in the first period, 17-11 in the second.
Price stopped 30 shots. The only Canuck to beat him was Henrik Sedin, capping off a second-period sequence in which Lars Eller failed to get the puck out of the Canadiens’ zone. The error was a suicide pass from Raphael Diaz, the kind that nearly got Eller killed against Ottawa in the playoffs last season. Chaos ensued, and Price was beaten with his defencemen, Josh Gorges and Raphael Diaz, literally tripping over each other.
If you thought that was bad D …
Eller scored the winning goal from inside his own blueline. With Jarred Tinordi, who didn’t have a great first visit to Rogers Arena, in the penalty box, Eller shot the puck down into the Vancouver zone. And without a white jersey in sight, Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis managed to slip the puck past their own goaltender.
Credited to Eller for his fifth of the season, the bizarro score seemed to take the wind out of the home team’s sails. The Canadiens outshot the Canucks 18-9 over the final 20 minutes, and goals by Tomas Plekanec and Josh Gorges (with his Kelowna crew in the stands) buried Vancouver.
In the third period of a one-goal game, the Canucks went 11 minutes without a SoG. In their own barn. Fire Torts!
A Stanley Cup finalist two years ago, the Canucks are in sixth-place in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. They’ve played more games than their rivals, and Vancouver is about to embark on a seven-game road trip.
OK, enough about their problems.
Your Montreal Canadiens are in third place – behind red-hot Toronto and Boston – in the Atlantic Division. Their goal differential of plus-7 is tied, with Pittsburgh, for second in the Eastern Conference, behind the Leafs’ plus-8.
The Canadiens conclude their western Canada road trip Tuesday in Winnipeg. Then it’s five games of home cookin’ against Western Conference visitors – culminating with the mighty San Jose Sharks on Oct. 26.
Fearless prediction: Price is going to be seeing a lot of rubber over the next couple weeks. And he’ll need to be flashing the Sochi form we saw Saturday night.
It’s going for 2 a.m. in Montreal. The Ol’ Blogger can barely keep his eyes open and his addled wits about him, so I’ll leave dissection of that excellent win to the Commentariat.
A few discussion points:
• Tomas Plekanec hasn’t had two wingers as good as Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher since the 2007-’08 season, when Pleks had 69 points playing with Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn. He had his first goal of the season in vancouver, and there will be many more once Plekanec gets used to the pinpoint passing of Galchenyuk. Assuming, of course, Michel Therrien keeps the line together.
• David Desharnais again had less ToI than either Plekanec or Lars Eller. But I thought DD worked hard in Vancouver, as did linemates Rene Bourque (5 SoG) and Brandon Prust.
• Eller is starting to look like a centre who can play with anyone. Chemitsry is emerging between him and Max Pacioretty, who scored for the second straight game.
• The fourth line was excellent – partcularly during a dominant third-period shift in which the Canucks couldn’t touch the puck. Ryan White went an astonishing 8-1 on faceoffs, Travis Moen was plus-2 on the game and Michaël Bournival continued to cement his status as a kid who should play every game.
• P.K. Subban is up to six assists on the season. And he’s revivified Andrei Markov.
• Supposedly injured, Josh Gorges played 22:43 in Edmonton and 22:28 in Vancouver, where he saluted John Tortorella by blocking six shots.
• The Canadiens have been outhit in every game they’ve played this season.
• Last shorthanded goal before that crazy one by Eller was Tomas Plekanec during a 5-on-3 in the last game of the 2011-’12 season.
Oh, one more thing: Don Cherry is an effing idiot.
Sunday is a travel day for the Habs. They’ll have a practice Monday in Winnipeg.