Never in doubt, right?
Shootout heroics by Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov secured a 4-3 win in Kanata Saturday night, setting up what should be a dandy rematch at the Bell Centre on Sunday.
It was a terrific game that saw the Canadiens battle back from a 2-1 deficit to take a third-period lead. And while the home team gained a measure of momentum from the Erik Karlsson goal that tied it up, the Canadiens made it through regulation time and survived an Ottawa power play in Overtime.
“We didn’t panic,” Claude Julien said in a media scrum telecast during L’Antichambre. “We kept our focus.”
The coach said there were “a lot of positives” in the Canadiens’ game. But Julien conceded that faceoffs were a negative that needs work.
Ottawa won 34 of 56 draws … including Kyle Turris beating Tomas Plekanec in the Canadiens’ zone, late in OT. Turris was 11-5 on the night, Plekanec 6-10.
Alex Galchenyuk was a brutal 5-12 on draws – evidence of a less than stellar night for the Canadiens’ number one line. The gang on L’Antichambre suggested there is less chemistry between Galchenyuk and his wingers, Max Pacioretty and Radulov, than was the case when Phillip Danault was centring the top line.
They may have a point.
Danault’s line – with Andrew Shaw and Artturi Lehkonen – was the Canadiens’ best. They’re all fast and aggressive on the forecheck, which generates chances. The line had 12 of the Canadiens’ 32 shots – five by Shaw.
Notwithstanding Plekanec’s faceoff struggles and the continuation of season-long scoring ineptitude, his line – with Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron – had some good, pesky shifts in the offensive zone.
Gallagher’s goal, which gave the Canadiens a third-period lead, was not Craig Anderson’s finest moment. But Gallagher is working his butt off on every shift, and the goal was the latest evidence of number 11’s late-season awakening.
The Canadiens got generally solid play on the back end.
The L’Antichambre gang were not enthusiastic about the play of Brandon Davidson, who drew in for Alexei Emelin and was paired with Jeff Petry. I thought Davidson played a decent game and occasionally had to cover for the gaffes of his partner.
Nathan Beaulieu played 18 error-free minutes in his return to action. Nate seemed comfortable in a pairing with Jordie Benn.
Carey Price was a tad unPriceian on the Erik Karlsson goal that tied the game late. But Price made four saves in an OT dominated by the home team.
Julien declined to say who would get the start in goal Sunday night.
Price has yet to play both halves of a back-to-back this season. But a Canadiens win at the Bell Centre would lift them four points above the Senators, launching a homestand that includes games against Detroit, Carolina, Ottawa, Dallas and Florida.
Running the table could sew up first place for the Canadiens … and Julien may count on Price to get the home-ice run off on the right foot.
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Astute Comment on the Liveblog from CJinBK:
An excellent W for the Habs tonight. Very nice to see secondary scoring from Shaw, Danault, and Gallagher, and two beauties in the shootout from Byron and Radulov.
The closeness of many of the stats pretty much sums up the parity of the two teams. Shots and hits were pretty even, although the Senators were 60.7% in the faceoff circle.
Bad: Davidson was not great, and he took a pretty weak penalty. He was a little Emelinian tonight. Beaulieu’s “pass” to Pacioretty in OT led to the captain’s penalty, although Pacioretty didn’t need to grab Karlsson’s sweater. (Pacioretty’s body language in the box said it all.) Otherwise, Beaulieu seemed pretty solid. (And I like that he was pissed about being a healthy scratch. It should have made him hungry to prove that he belongs out there.) The powerplay was godawful, but I did like that Claude Julien was trying some new formations out there.
Good: I loved Ott’s hit in the offensive zone corner to get the puck, followed by a shot on goal. It didn’t go in, but it was a good play. Torrey Mitchell and Dwight King were also good. Those are the guys you need to be good now and in the playoffs. I always admired King in the playoffs for the Kings, and thought he was an excellent pickup by Marc Bergevin. The penalty kill in overtime was a thing of exceptional beauty against a very dangerous Senators team. Karlsson — who played 53 minutes tonight! (At least it seemed that way.) — is a pretty talented fellow, and one of the few people who can pull off a goatee. He looked set to win the game for the home team, but Weber and Benn along with Plekanec and Byron shut that down. Benn’s beard… Magnificent. The third period comeback has become a bit of a Canadiens trademark this year, and if not for Karlsson’s snipe, the game would have ended in regulation. (Also, the penalty on Danault was flat-out wrong, and the Senators scored on the ensuing power play, so…)
One last note of thanks to Bobby Ryan, who did some amazing work blocking shots for the Canadiens. Sign that guy to an extension now!
And a critique of HNIC’s anti-Canadienism from filchock79:
Rough night for the anti-Montrealer Garry Galley. No sooner than he happily tells everyone how poor Montreal’s power play is, the Habs tie the game as the result of a power play. No sooner than he tells everyone how great Craig Anderson is, that journeyman Anderson coughs up two weak goals, then gets beaten like a drum in the shootout. Maybe he can ask for some of Jason York’s kleenex, after York spent Tuesday whining and complaining about every Chicago goal, then suddenly became very positive when the Habs popped in a couple. Sportsnet/CBC have a very serious problem with these two cheerleaders – and they can’t bury their heads in the sand any longer.
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RIP, Chuck Berry