The Habs were looking to kick off Super Bowl weekend on a winning note on
Saturday as they took on another of the Metropolitan’s top teams in the
Washington Capitals. For the second straight game, it was a battle of the
goalies and for the second time in a row, Max Pacioretty scored the only goal as
the Canadiens topped the Caps 1-0 in overtime.
As is often the case with matinee games, the first period got off to a
sluggish start. The Habs had an early powerplay but were unable to
generate any sort of momentum. As the period progressed, the Capitals
found their skating legs and had the Habs on their heels as Washington had
several quality scoring chances but were unable to beat Carey Price. The
shots on goal through 20 minutes were 9-7 for the Caps with neither team
lighting the lamp. Christian Thomas led the Canadiens in shots on goal
despite playing all of 83 seconds in the opening frame.
The second period featured an interesting ‘battle’ between Tom Wilson and
Tomas Plekanec. Wilson caught Plekanec with a late open-ice hit but the
Czech centre got him back right at the end of the shift with half a hip check
that caught Wilson by surprise. Both players received offsetting minors.
The rest of the frame can be best described by one word, survival. The
Capitals dominated for most of the period, hitting three posts (two on the same
shift) while generating plenty of good chances. Price stood his ground
though, keeping them off the scoreboard. Montreal got a bit of momentum
back late with a decent powerplay effort but also weren’t able to beat Braden
Holtby, keeping the score scoreless through 40 minutes for the second straight
game. The shots on goal were 17-6 for Washington.
As we’ve seen a lot this year, the Habs saved their best play for the third
period. An early strong penalty kill (which resulted in a trio of shots
for Montreal) gave them some early momentum. Unfortunately for them, it
didn’t result in any extra goals as Holtby was equal to the task. As a
result, the game headed to overtime with still nary a goal scored. Shots
on goal in the third were 15-10 Montreal.
Pacioretty has been among the game winning goal leaders in recent years and
was coming off a game where he recorded the winner against New York. He
did it again in this one. Pacioretty redirected a Plekanec pass right in
front of the net to give the Habs the 1-0 win.
Price made 36 saves for the shutout win while Holtby was the hard luck loser,
turning aside 29/30 shots in the loss. Neither team was able to score with
the man advantage; Montreal was 0/3 while the Caps were 0/5.
HW 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1st Star: Carey Price – Do I really need to explain this one?
He kept the Habs in the game when they were particularly sluggish in the 2nd and
didn’t allow a single goal while turning away quite a few strong Washington
chances. He is absolutely on fire right now.
Stats: 0 goals allowed on 36 shots, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%
2nd Star: Max Pacioretty – While it’s easy to slot him here
since he scored the winner, he was also Montreal’s best player for the rest of
the game. He was aggressive with his shot and played particularly well
shorthanded. Montreal’s in a bit of an offensive lull right now so it’s a
good thing Pacioretty is on top of his game.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 7 shots (11 attempts), 2 giveaways, 1
takeaway, 1 block, 22:06 TOI
3rd Star: Christian Thomas – What a game for him. When he
was on the ice, good things were happening. He wasn’t afraid to get the
puck on the net while his speed made lots of good things happen. He
deserved that promotion to the third line that he received in the 3rd.
Here’s hoping he stays there for the game against Arizona on Sunday.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 6 shots (9 attempts), 1 takeaway, 8:14
Honourable Mention: Tomas Plekanec – He and Pacioretty were the
only two forwards among those who received regular ice time that were consistent
threats every time they were on the ice. Plekanec made a really nice play
to set up the winner and was strong at the faceoff dot. Another steady,
strong game from the veteran.
Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 6 shots, 1 hit, 1 block, 11/19 faceoffs,
Stat of the Night: 7:8 – This is the ratio of minor penalties
taken to shots on goal for Lars Eller in the last five games. When you’re
not scoring, you need to be sound in other areas of the game. Having that
type of ratio isn’t going to help his cause to get more ice time to play his way
out of his slump.
The Hamilton Bulldogs were also in action on Saturday afternoon, playing
their second game against Iowa in less than 24 hours. They too came out
victorious with a trio of third period goals to defeat the Wild 5-3. That
extends their season-long winning streak to six games.