Has there been a bigger goal this season than Alex Galchenyuk’s Overtime winner in Arizona?
Don’t think so.
The Canadiens rode a season-worst four-game losing streak into Gila River Arena Thursday night.
Facing the 29th best team in the NHL, they contrived to blow 2-0 and 4-3 leads before Galchenyuk’s OT heroics.
Had the Canadiens lost the game, it would have been a LONG plane ride home. And they’d have landed in a city wallowing in the depths of hockey-indices depression.
That grim scenario was averted because all the Canadiens played a solid game against mighty Arizona.
Well, all the Canadiens except one.
Montreal fans will not be grimly contemplating a five-game losing streak on Friday.
They will, however, be wondering what the heck is wrong with Carey Price.
The erstwhile All-World goaltender gave up four goals on only 24 shots in Arizona.
Price was brutal on two of them:
• Max Domi’s loose-puck tap-in that needed a video review to count.
• Even worse, the Alex Goligoski shorthanded goal on which Price was facing completely away from the onrushing Arizona defenceman. Max Pacioretty’s backchecking on Goligoski was less than stellar … but still.
Price headed into the game with a perfect career record against the Coyotes: 8-0-0, with a goals-against average of 1.49 and save percentage of .949.
Contrast those stellar numbers with some recent stats: In five starts on the road heading into Arizona, Price was 0-5-0 with a 3.45 goals-against average and a sieve-like save percentage of .874.
In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye, what’s going on?
Is Price nursing an injury?
Is he distracted by the pitter-patter of little feet Chez Price? That wouldn’t account for the road losses.
Is Price thinking about his next contract? His current deal expires after the 2017-’18 season.
Regardless of what’s afflicting or annoying the goaltender, Price has to get his spit together if the Canadiens are going to:
a) Make the playoffs, which isn’t an absolute certainty just yet; and
b) make some noise in the postseason.
After a tough weekend back-to-back against St. Louis at the Bell Centre and the Bruins in Boston, the Canadiens get a five-day break.
Price should be spending a good chunk of that time with Stephane Waite.
OK, enough ragging on the Canadiens’ best and most valuable player.
What about the other 18 guys?
There was a lot to like in the OT win:
• In addition to scoring, Andrei Markov elevated the game of his new D partner, Jeff Petry.
• Superb effort by the top line: Pacioretty’s 27 goals put him third in the league; Alexander Radulov had eight shot attempts and scored a goal that gave the Canadiens a 4-3 lead; Phillip Danault had two assists and won 11 of 21 faceoffs.
• Michael McCarron also won most of his draws: 7 of 11. And the big galoot – with linemates Torrey Mitchell and Daniel Carr – made things happen on every shift.
• Galchenyuk’s goal should help snap the team’s most talented forward …OK, tied with Radulov …out of his recent injury-plagued funk.
• Sven Andrighetto played well enough to get another start.
And, to the delight of the HIO Commentariat, the Canadiens scored five times with David Desharnais in the pressbox.
On to a tough weekend.
• • •
Comment on the Liveblog by Chair Troll:
Ugly win but it can be enough to get into better winning habits. What matters is how they play in the next few games and if steady improvement can be shown. Galchenyuk probably still needs a bit of time to get into true game shape but his OT goal should give the squad a boost. Perhaps Gallagher’s return will also help too. I predict Byron will start heating up again.
Still not seeing what is so great about Shaw to merit the contract that MB gave him. I only notice him when he takes penalties. He and Pleks are some of the most expensive 3rd liners.
And FenceSurfer, this one’s for you: