The Habs headed into Sunday’s matinee vs the Hurricanes hoping to win two straight games for the first time since late November. It took a shootout to do it but the Habs now have a streak going after winning 2-1.
Michel Therrien opted not to make any changes to his lineup from Saturday’s win over Edmonton, meaning that Ben Scrivens was making his second straight start for the first time in a Canadiens uniform.
Slow starts have been highly prevalent for the Habs in recent weeks and this game was no exception. Less than three minutes in, Tom Gilbert had a tough shift, failing to clear the puck and then failing to tie up Jeff Skinner who instead redirected a Jordan Staal past Scrivens to open up the scoring.
Minutes later, Jeff Petry took a lazy penalty which resulted in some nervous moments for Montreal as the ‘Canes hit two goal posts and missed a wide open net. At the end of the day it counts as a successful penalty killing effort but it certainly wasn’t pretty for the home side.
While the Habs outshot Carolina 14-12 in the period, there weren’t many scoring chances for Montreal. Max Pacioretty had a good rush while Mark Barberio had a couple of shots get through that turned into chances but that was about it from a tough period overall.
The second period started in a similar fashion as the first with some sloppy in-zone play from the Habs. This time, however, they didn’t pay for it as they kept the puck out of their own net.
Max Pacioretty got the Habs on the board just past the eight minute mark as he took a feed from Andrei Markov and sniped it past Cam Ward. It was the type of goal we see when the captain is on his game, the perfectly placed shot. We hadn’t seen it for a while.
Montreal had a power play opportunity a few minutes after the goal and had a few chances, the best being a Pacioretty centering feed that banked off David Desharnais but missed the net. Despite not scoring, the man advantage seemed to give the Canadiens some momentum as they were better towards the end of the period but the score remained 1-1. Shots in the period were 10-9 for the Hurricanes.
Quite frankly, most of the third period was a snoozer with nothing much to write about. Tomas Fleischmann drew a penalty in the latter stages and once that expired, both teams decided to try to play for the win and had some quality shots but both goalies stood tall. That sent the game to overtime; shots were 12-7 for Carolina.
While the third period was boring, the overtime period was far from it. Carolina, who has played in a lot more of these than Montreal, used their experience to their advantage by more or less playing keep away for most of the frame. The Habs had a couple of prime chances late, one from P.K. Subban and the other from Tomas Plekanec on the same shift but again, both goalies shut the door. Shots were 3-1 for the home team in the extra session.
Then came the shootout. Like the game itself, it was anything but an offensive explosion. Sven Andrighetto had the lone marker (in the fifth round) to give the Canadiens the victory.
Scrivens made 34 saves to pick up his second straight win while Ward turned aside 33 shots in the losing effort. Both teams were scoreless with the man advantage, going 0/2 apiece.
HW Habs’ 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1st Star: Ben Scrivens – While he’s not going to get any style points for the way some of his saves were made, the fact that he made them is good enough. He was strong in the shootout as well which was a nice plus. For next game though, maybe a little less of the acrobatics and more proper positioning would be something to strive for.
Stats: 34 saves on 35 shots, 0.93 GAA, .971 SV%
2nd Star: Max Pacioretty – He didn’t stand out on a lot of shifts but when he had the puck on his stick, good things were happening. It was nice to see him get a goal while he had a couple of other strong takes to the net as well. After being quiet in Saturday’s win, it was good to see him be more of a factor in this one.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 5 shots, 2 hits, 18:51 TOI
3rd Star: Mark Barberio – He was really involved early on which seemed to catch Michel Therrien’s eye as he rewarded him with a season high in ice time. He wasn’t too noticeable in his own end (which is a positive) while in the offensive zone, he made some good things happen.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 2 shots, 3 takeaways, 18:31 TOI
Honourable Mention: Sven Andrighetto – He wasn’t all that noticeable unless the puck was on his stick but he had a nice blocked shot and a couple of good chances in regulation as well. And, of course, he got the shootout winner which means he had to be on here somewhere.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 shots, 1 block, 13:51 TOI
Stat of the Game: The Habs are officially on a winning streak. It’s the first time they’ve won two straight games since November 25th and 27th.