The Habs went into Sunday night’s game vs the Islanders looking to snap their
longest losing streak of the season. After a sluggish first half of the
game, the Canadiens picked up their play down the stretch en route to a 4-2
victory. The triumph was also a milestone for coach Michel Therrien as he
picked up his 250th career regular season victory. However, it wasn’t all
good news as Travis Moen left the game in the second period due to a virus and
did not return.
The first period was a very even one. Both teams had ten shots but only
a handful of quality chances among them. Montreal opened the scoring early
in the second period as Brendan Gallagher snuck past Aaron Ness on a partial
breakaway and beat Kevin Poulin. That seemed to galvanize the Islanders as
they controlled the play for the majority of the frame; Pierre-Marc Bouchard
picked up his third of the year on the powerplay during this time.
Fortunately for Montreal, New York got into some penalty trouble in the final
five minutes of the second. Michael Grabner took a delay of game penalty
shortly after returning from the dressing room, Lars Eller made them pay with a
powerplay tally. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Hickey got a double-minor for
high sticking and this time it was Michael Bournival who lit the lamp, giving
Montreal a two goal lead heading into the third.
Special teams continued to play a role in the final period. Brock
Nelson cut the lead in half with yet another goal scored on the man advantage
just past the four minute mark, setting the stage for a close finish.
However, Alex Galchenyuk finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play (with Eller and
Gallagher) just past the halfway point to restore the two goal advantage, one
that the Habs wouldn’t yield; a late penalty from Hickey killed any chance of an
Carey Price got the start and the win, making 24 saves on 26 shots.
Poulin took the loss for New York (their fourth straight), allowing four goals
on 31 shots. Both teams had a pair of goals on the powerplay; Montreal was
2/5 and the Islanders 2/4.
HW 3 Stars
1st Star: Brendan Gallagher – Galchenyuk may have the prettier
numbers but I felt Gallagher was more of a momentum-swinger in this one.
It was his hustle that led to Montreal’s first goal while he was the catalyst
for the clinching tally in the 3rd; his speed to corral the puck and his
patience to wait for the passing lane is what made that happen.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 3 shots (3 missed shots), 2
blocks, 17:33 TOI
2nd Star: Alex Galchenyuk – Given that this is only his second
season this doesn’t carry as much weight as it should but this was one of the
best games of his young career. In recent games he would make a good play
but it wouldn’t be finished. That was not the case Sunday night. He
scored a nice goal, had several other strong chances, and made a pair of strong
feeds to set up his linemates’ tallies.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists, +2 rating, 6 shots (2 blocked), 2 hits,
3rd Star: Lars Eller – Just as some were starting to
(wrongfully) criticize him for going into a bit of a slump, he responded with
one of his better games in a while. He was overshadowed by his linemates
but picked up his play as the game went on while also providing some support at
the faceoff dot.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 assists, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 shot (3 missed shots),
3 hits, 11/21 faceoffs (52%), 18:30 TOI
Honourable Mention: Max Pacioretty – There were a few good
options here but it seemed like Pacioretty did everything but score in this one.
He’s doing all of the right things to try to get out of his mini-slump (five
games without a point); if he has a few more games like he did here, that streak
won’t last much longer.
Stats: 0 points, 5 shots, 2 hits, 1 block, 20:37 TOI (game high for