Sunday’s matinee affair against the Senators won’t go down as one for the ages but the Habs managed to play well enough to pick up a 4-1 victory to sweep the weekend.
Claude Julien made just one lineup change from Saturday’s victory with Carey Price getting the start between the pipes. Jonathan Drouin was able to play despite leaving the Anaheim game early after taking a shot to the ribs.
The first period was played at the pace of an All-Star Game. There was no flow, no hustle, minimal scoring chances and as a result, the Bell Centre scorekeepers were putting in extra time to exaggerate the number of hits between the two teams. The official number was 18 but realistically, the number was closer to one. The most exciting part of the period came right at the end…when the buzzer sounded. Shots on goal were officially 10-7 for the Sens but only a handful of those were actual chances. Not surprisingly, neither side scored in the frame.
The middle frame featured a lot more action. Unfortunately for the Habs, it didn’t get off to a great start. The pairing of Victor Mete and David Schlemko has had some adventures in their own end and that came back to bite them as a poor pass up the middle by Schlemko was intercepted by Mike Hoffman who then rifled a shot past Price to open the scoring.
Evidently, getting hurt yesterday wasn’t enough bad fortune for Drouin. In the continuing play on a delayed penalty to Ottawa, Ryan Dzingel pushed him hard into the post and he was down for a bit. This came seconds after he missed a wide open tap in. Less than a minute later while on the power play, he then took a high stick from Erik Karlsson that drew blood and gave Montreal a lengthy two-man advantage.
They didn’t need very much of it, however. Just ten seconds after the penalty (and after a lengthy delay for officials to figure out who was supposed to be in the box), Jeff Petry’s hot stretch continued as he blasted one past Mike Condon to tie things up. That put it back to 5-on-4 where Montreal again was able to score as Artturi Lehkonen beat Condon short side to score his first goal since Halloween.
Things settled down for a bit after that with neither side generating much in the way of chances although Schlemko did ring one off the post. While it looked like the home side would be taking a 2-1 lead to the room, Lehkonen took a centring feed from Tomas Plekanec and he had a wide open net to shoot at since Condon was way out of position and the Finnish forward made no mistake for his second of the game to give the Habs a two-goal lead after 40 minutes. Shots on goal in the period were 20-5 for Montreal.
Following that flurry of action, the third period was a lot closer to the first as Montreal went into a defensive shell. Nicolas Deslauriers had a pair of chances while the Habs killed off a Brendan Gallagher slashing penalty that was effectively the final nail in the coffin. With just over three minutes left, Thomas Chabot turned the puck over right in front to Plekanec who snapped it home to end his 20-game goalless drought, ending the game on a high note for the Habs.
Price wasn’t tested a whole lot but still turned aside 25 of 26 shots on the afternoon while Condon made 31 stops. The power play was a big difference in this one with the Canadiens going 2/3 on that second period opportunity while the Sens were 0/1.
HW Habs 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1st Star: Artturi Lehkonen – He was more than due to finally get a goal and for good measure, he scored a pair. If he could only play Ottawa, he’d be set as the only games he has scored in this season have come against the Senators. It’ll be interesting to see if this gets Lehkonen going or if he goes right back to struggling to score.
Stats: 2 goals, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 4 shots, 2 hits, 11:35 TOI (lowest on the team)
2nd Star: Jeff Petry – He wasn’t as big of a factor as he was against the Ducks but Petry still had a very strong game. His power play marker woke the Habs from their lethargic start to the game and got things going in the right direction. Confidence really makes a difference for Petry and right now, he has plenty of it.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 3 shots, 4 giveaways, 2 takeaways, 3 hits, 24:13 TOI
3rd Star: Tomas Plekanec – He was another player that was more than due to snap a slump. His assist gave him his 600th career point while his goal late in the third snapped a 20-game drought. Not only should that help his confidence a bit but it certainly can’t hurt his trade value either.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +1 rating, 2 shots, 5/15 faceoffs, 13:39 TOI
Honourable Mention: Byron Froese – I could go with a few players here but Froese was particularly strong at the faceoff dot which helped earn him a lot more ice time than usual. The fourth line also had a lot more chances than Ottawa’s (although that doesn’t say a lot since their fourth trio was largely invisible) and Froese had a lot to do with that. Jacob de la Rose may be waiting a bit longer to get back into the lineup now.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 shots, 3 hits, 9/14 faceoffs, 13:50 TOI