Not a bad night for the Canadiens … and for Canada.
The juniors are on their way to the championship final against the U.S. Thursday night.
The Canadiens are on their way to Toronto, where they will complete a road trip during which the injury-ravaged team has managed to reap eight of a possible 12 points.
It started two days before Christmas in Columbus, where the Canadiens outshot the NHL’s hottest team 37-24 but were stoned by Sergei Bobrovsky in a 2-1 loss.
The five subsequent games have all been decided in Overtime. And the Canadiens have won three of them.
This has been accomplished despite key Canadiens dropping like … (fill in your own colourful metaphor, but keep it clean).
The latest casualties fell Wednesday night in Dallas, where Paul Byron was steamrollered by Patrick Sharp and snakebit Brendan Gallagher felt the venom of a Shea Weber slapshot.
I’ll be surprised if either of the diminutive forwards is in the lineup at the Air Canada Centre. On L’Antichambre, they were speculating that Byron had been concussed. And Gallagher’s left hand, which was broken last season, looked nasty after the Weber howitzer.
In his postgame media scrum, Michel Therrien lauded the “exceptional character” of his team. The coach cited an emotional Tuesday night win in Nashville and the rigors of travel as factors that may have sapped the Canadiens’ energy during a second period in which Dallas had a 16-7 shot advantage.
But down two forwards in the third period, the Canadiens matched the home team’s 11 shots. And then 19 seconds into OT, Jeff Petry sent Max Pacioretty off for the breakaway goal that knocked Howie Morenz and Saku Koivu out of the team record book.
It was Pacioretty’s eighth career OT winner.
And he’s got quite a few seasons to add to the record.
Notes from the stat sheet:
• Nathan Beaulieu had a goal (what a feed by Alexander Radulov!), two assists and, for the second straight game, led the Canadiens in ice time.
• Radulov had a goal, eight shot attempts (five of which were on target), blocked two shots and got in the grill of the execrable Antoine Roussel.
• Al Montoya won’t win any style points, but 39 saves on the road ain’t chopped liver.
• Phillip Danault had two assists. This road trip has enhanced Danault’s status as a possible second-line centre when Alex Galchenyuk returns.
• Alexei Emelin had only one hit … but it was a bone-crusher on Roussel.
• Ryan Johnston played almost 12 mistake-free minutes.
• Interesting stat cited during the telecast: The Canadiens are 15-2-2 when Radulov records a point.
Minus Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov, Andrew Shaw, Greg Pateryn and David Desharnais, the Canadiens have 10 more points than their closest Atlantic Division pursuers, Ottawa and Boston.
That’s seven points more than mighty Columbus’s lead in the Metropolitan, nine points more than Chicago’s margin in the Central and eight points more than San Jose’s lead in the Pacific.
Not too shabby for an banged-up team.
On to TO.
• • •
Comment on the Liveblog by habsr4ever:
Big Mac continues to impress.
This team is tight. No egos.
Results with all these injuries is amazing.
Montoya even looked off tonight.
Some how our boys win back to back on the road. No Benn helped but sheesh look at our injury list.
Shea Weber is the biggest trade of the season. our locker room needed some changes and bergy got it done even though the trade was very unpopular.
Raise your hand if u thought we were going to win after they tied it up?
I certainly didn’t. I was just hoping for a point. But then came 67 on a breakaway and he made hab history. Not bad for a player so many on here want to deal away.
None the less this team continues to roll. I don’t see an 18 wheeler going off the cliff even with all our injuries. This team is tight and we have tremendous leadership with pacman price and mister Weber where everyone has to fall in line or get the stare or wrath of Shea. Get well soon gally and pauley.
I’m out peace.
And from city center:
Another absolute gut check win. This team seems to be thriving off of the adversity which should bode well for the postseason–assuming anyone is left standing by then.
Former Hab Ludwig is talking right now about the character of the CH team on the Dallas post-game feed. Posters here have remarked about how tight the team is. Other team commentators are picking up on this too. I like that it is becoming this apparent.
Although Carr and BigMac are not lighting up the score sheet, they look and feel like they contribute every shift. Great screen by BigMac on the PP after Gally got injured.
Johnston looked really good in the first period. And then Dallas started to get its legs and attacked hard. From then on he was hanging on for dear life. Not sure if he can be in the lineup much longer without running our top 4 ragged.
Someone posted here several games ago that Max only scores goals when the game is out of hand. Couldn’t be more wrong. Plays hurt, scores clutch goals, class act and a team player. Can’t ask for much more. Congrats Captain for making the CH record books tonight.