After an ugly start to the week, the Habs rebounded well as a pair of high-scoring third periods propelled them to two victories to end their week on a winning note.
The Week That Was
Dec. 11: Wild 7, Canadiens 1 – Every now and then, there is a game that you just want to forget ever happened. This is one of those – especially for Antti Niemi.
Dec. 13: Canadiens 6, Hurricanes 4 – For a while, this was looking like a game that could have had a similar result as their previous matchup that saw Carolina’s goaltender have a stellar showing in a low-scoring win. That all fell apart in a wacky third period. Each team scored in the first 45 seconds in the frame and when all was said and done, the two teams combined for seven goals including four from Montreal.
Dec. 15: Canadiens 5, Senators 2 – While this had the same score as the other two matchups, the game was a lot different. The Habs dominated in the second period but still found themselves trailing heading into what can only be classified as a wackier third period than the game before. Jesperi Kotkaniemi tied it early before Montreal looked to take the lead with a shorthanded goal that was called back on an iffy embellishment call. This actually seemed to give the Habs more motivation and they took over from there, adding three goals in the final half of the frame to pick up the win.
Goals: Domi/Gallagher (14)
Assists: Max Domi (19)
Points: Max Domi (33)
+/-: Byron/Lehkonen/Tatar (+7)
PIMS: Max Domi (41)
Shots: Brendan Gallagher (121)
News And Notes
– Matthew Peca has quietly been productive lately. He has a three-game point streak and has five points in his last five games (spanning nearly a month). Michael Chaput had a four-game point streak snapped against the Senators. The fourth line has surprisingly been picking up the points in recent weeks.
– A lot of Max Domi’s success this season is being attributed to the fact he’s shooting more. The truth is, he’s hitting the net more often but his actual shot attempts (3.94 per game) are only slightly higher than last season (3.84). The difference is his accuracy as he’s averaging half a shot on goal per game more than 2017-18.
– Brett Kulak and Chaput both played in their tenth game since being recalled this past week which means that they now must go through waivers again to get back to Laval. Montreal is down to just two waiver-exempt players in Noah Juulsen and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Last Game’s Lines:
Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Peca – Chaput – Agostino
Kulak – Weber
Reilly – Petry
Benn – Juulsen
The Week Ahead
Dec. 17: vs Boston – The final home game of 2018 sees the Habs take on a Boston team that has been slowly getting healthier but will still be missing some key players in Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins are staring down a goalie controversy once again with Jaroslav Halak struggling as of late while Tuukka Rask has improved after a slow start. Although Bergeron’s out, their other top line guys in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak continue to produce.
Dec. 19: at Colorado – The Avalanche boast the top line in the league and it’s not even close. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and (to a slightly lesser degree) Gabriel Landeskog have been running roughshod over their opponents. As a result, Colorado is one of the top scoring teams in the NHL. Former Hab Sven Andrighetto has dealt with injury issues this season and has just four points in 17 games.
Dec. 20: at Arizona – The Coyotes are once again near the bottom of the standings and are missing their starting goalie. Unfortunately for the Habs, this seems to be a winning recipe for them against Montreal over the years. It’s the first matchup against their former teams for Max Domi and Alex Galchenyuk with the latter missing last week due to a lower-body issue.
Dec. 22: at Vegas – The final game before the Christmas break features the Golden Knights who have bounced back nicely after a slow start to their sophomore year. There was some confusion regarding Max Pacioretty earlier in the week as to whether or not he was hurt or a healthy scratch but he played on Sunday and looked fine. Paul Stastny returned to the lineup after missing 30 games due to injury giving their lineup a dimension it didn’t have in their first meeting.
Seeing Montreal wear white at home on Thursday made me remember how much I disliked the decision to flip home and away sweaters years ago. What was the point of it again? To make it easier for home fans to know who not to cheer for? (Just boo the guys in white every game…) I’m not a huge traditionalist but something just feels right about the Canadiens’ white sweaters on home ice. Maybe it’s the highlights of their Cup-clinching games at the Montreal Forum that were long before my time.
While there’s a camp for colours at home versus white at home, why not try a compromise? There are other leagues that flip home and away sweaters midseason, allowing the fans to get the best of both worlds. Failing that, if Thomas Dundon wants Carolina to wear red when they’re in Montreal, here’s hoping that the Habs are more than happy to continue to oblige that request.