After a rough game on Friday, Carey Price was expected to have a bounce back game on Sunday night. He turned in his best game of the series, pitching a 43 save shutout as the Habs are moving onto the second round after a 2-0 win.
Michel Therrien made one change to his lineup as P-A Parenteau finally got a chance to play in his second game; Brian Flynn was a healthy scratch to make room for the veteran. The Habs also changed up their forward lines, which looked as follows:
Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Galchenyuk – Desharnais – Weise
Prust – Eller – Parenteau
de la Rose – Mitchell – Smith-Pelly
As Montreal did in Game 5, they came out strong, testing Craig Anderson early and holding the Sens without a shot for nearly half of the first period. Also like in Game 5, they didn’t score and after Ottawa got their first shot, they started to take back control of the play. The Canadiens had a couple of strong penalty kills in the opening half of the frame as well.
For the first time in the series though, the Habs opened the scoring as Brendan Gallagher displayed his nice hand-eye coordination, taking a shot off his body and then turning around to bat it into the net. Greg Pateryn picked up an assist on the goal giving him a two game point streak (the only points of his NHL career).
After that, it was Carey Price’s turn to shine, absolutely robbing Kyle Turris with the butt-end of his stick on an Ottawa two on one. Shortly thereafter, the Canadiens had a prime opportunity as Anderson badly misplayed a dump-in, leaving the net vacated momentarily. However, he and Ottawa’s defence recovered to stop Brandon Prust from stuffing it home while denying Jeff Petry a chance to score on the rebound. Nonetheless, despite not capitalizing there, Montreal went into the opening intermission with a lead for the first time in the series; shots on goal were even at thirteen apiece.
For most of the series, the Habs have been the stronger second period team. To put it nicely, that wasn’t the case in this one. Ottawa came out flying, peppering Price with shots but Montreal survived the early onslaught.
However, the second stanza will largely be remembered for a very controversial moment. A seemingly innocent point shot handcuffed Price who never had control of the puck. Fortunately for Montreal though, Chris Lee, who was on the opposite side of the ice, either presumed Price had it or lost sight of the puck and blew the whistle, just as Jean-Gabriel Pageau was pushing the puck into the yawning cage. The goal didn’t count as the whistle went before the puck went in, leaving Ottawa players and fans alike justifiably up in arms and undoubtedly will be a lasting memory of the series.
The Sens had a chance late in the period after Andrei Markov, whose rough series continued, took a tripping call. But it was the Habs who had the best chance as Max Pacioretty flipped the puck past Erik Karlsson and sent a pass over to Tomas Plekanec who had a wide open net but tipped it over top as the puck looked to hit his stick twice, the latter touch sending it too high. Despite some tense moments, the visitors retained their one goal lead heading into the third despite the Sens outshooting Montreal 16-3 in the period.
Unsurprisingly, Ottawa came out firing in the third and threw everything they could at Price but they couldn’t tie it up. As the Sens opened up their game, Montreal had chances to double their lead. Parenteau and Torrey Mitchell had a 2-on-0 and kept passing until they ran out of room. Brandon Prust on a 3-on-2 fired it wide while other chances also missed the net, keeping it close.
Jacob de la Rose took a late tripping penalty, further leading to the nail biting. Once again, the penalty kill did its job but the Habs weren’t out of trouble. The Senators saved their best flurry for last and came very close to beating Price twice in the final minute. However, Montreal’s All-Star shut the door and Max Pacioretty added one into the empty net with 0.3 seconds left for good measure to make it a 2-0 final.
Price turned aside all 43 shots he faced while Anderson made 19 saves on the 20 shots Montreal took that actually hit the net (the Habs had nearly as many shots miss the net as ones on goal). The Habs were 0/1 on the power play while their penalty kill was splendid, going a perfect 4/4.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Carey Price – After a subpar showing in Game 5, many were expecting Price to rebound. He did exactly that, playing by far his best game of the series. While he bobbled a few rebounds, he was in control all game and was the difference maker for sure.
Stats: 43 saves on 43 shots, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%
2nd Star: Brendan Gallagher – He had for all intents and purposes the only goal of the game and his tenacious forecheck made a difference all game long. We were waiting from someone in the top six to make more of an impact and Gallagher certainly stepped it up.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 4 shots, 16:12 TOI
3rd Star: Lars Eller – He didn’t make too much noise in the offensive end but he made his mark in other areas. He was strong on the puck, played physical, and was dominant at the faceoff dot.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 1 shot, 3 hits, 12/14 faceoffs (86%), 17:07 TOI
Honourable Mention: Max Pacioretty – This was his best game of the series by far. Pacioretty was much more assertive and confident while playing particularly strong on the penalty kill. That’s a great sign moving forward.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 2 hits, 17:18 TOI
Stat of the Night: 39 – This was Jacob de la Rose’s 39th NHL game of the year, including the regular season and playoffs. Why does this matter? He burns one accrued season towards unrestricted free agency when he plays Game #40. In other words, the next game he plays will make him eligible for UFA status at 26 instead of the usual 27.