The Canadiens were looking to head into the holiday break on a high note as they finished their western road trip in Winnipeg on Monday night. The Habs finally got some good news on the injury front as Victor Mete was back in the lineup for the first time since November 30th. He took Mike Reilly’s spot in the lineup.
It was a shaky start for the Habs and they conceded the first goal. But two first period goals from Tomas Tatar put the Habs in front and they did not look back from there. Another four goals, including a pair from Phillip Danault, helped the Habs dominate on their way to a 6-2 win.
There was a scary scramble right in front of the Habs net in the opening seconds. The puck appeared to be sliding into the net but Tatar made a slick play to take the puck off the goal line and keep it out of harm’s way.
There was a lot of back and forth action through the first period until just before the 10-minute mark. Halfway through the period, Patrik Laine converted on a Mark Scheifele pass to give the Jets a 1-0 lead. Someone on the Habs bench was watching closely as the goal was challenged and brought back because there was offside on the entry.
Shortly after the disallowed goal, Ben Chiarot was driving to the net and bumped into Laurent Brossoit. Chiarot was sent off for goaltender interference, and the Jets got a shot on the power play. Winnipeg was onside to get on the board this time. On a broken play, Kyle Connor found the rebound in front and slid it past Price.
Later on in the period, Joel Armia drew a hooking call on Neal Pionk. The red hot Habs’ power play continued to roll along and found another goal. With some quick puck movement, Jeff Petry sent the puck to Nick Suzuki at the right faceoff circle. Suzuki sold the shot, then slid it across to Tatar, who wasted no time and roofed the puck to tie the game.
It didn’t take too long for Montreal to gain their first lead of the game. After two Jets collided with each other, Gallagher took the loose puck and sent it back to the point. Shea Weber fired a shot that was stopped by Brossoit but Tatar was right on the doorstep and slid the rebound between his legs for the 2-1 lead.
Tatar’s stellar period continued just seconds after the goal when he won a race into the Jets’ zone and fired a slapper that was handled by Brossoit. After a shaky start to the game, the Habs dominated the last few minutes of the period and skated off with the lead.
Ryan Poehling had a great chance at his first goal of the season early in the middle frame. Riley Barber picked up the puck just before the goal line and sent a sizzling pass through the crease. Poehling was there, but couldn’t find the pass to tap it in.
The Habs pounced shortly thereafter though when Brendan Gallagher forced Brossoit to turn the puck over. He stole the puck and brought it out front, then fired a shot at net. Danault was right in front and banged home the rebound out of the mid-air to double the lead.
The Habs started to control the play and dominate after taking the 3-1 lead. This was until Weber was assessed a penalty for closing his hand over the puck. Early in the man advantage, Price made a big-time pad save on a Laine one-timer. Price then sprung Suzuki for an odd-man rush shortly after and the Jets were caught with too many men.
Right before the faceoff to start the four on four, Danault was communicating with his teammates and telling them exactly where to stand. The next play made him look like a genius as he won the draw, got the puck back, and fired it five-hole for his second goal of the period.
Price made his most impressive save of the game on a Connor breakaway. In the Winnipeg zone the puck slid past Weber and out to centre. There was a foot race and the referee appeared to get in Weber’s way. This led to Connor going in and deking forehand to backhand but Price stretched across and kept his toe against the post to make the save.
With four minutes left in the second, the Jets cut into the lead. Scheifele took the puck across the line and slid it to Laine. Laine then picked the corner on Price to bring Winnipeg within two.
However, the Jets couldn’t hold the Canadiens off for long. With just forty seconds left in the frame, Suzuki intercepted a Nathan Beaulieu clearing attempt. Domi quickly joined him, and Beaulieu took out his own goalie, leaving a wide-open net for Max to put it in.
Nate Thompson was called for interference with 15 seconds left so the Habs had a penalty to kill going into the third. However, they still had a comfortable 5-2 lead to take into the final 20. There was some bad news, as it was announced that Joel Armia was out with an upper-body injury and would not return.
The Canadiens played a textbook third period to protect their lead. They continued to put pressure on the Jets but ensured that they were taking care of things in their zone first. Midway through the lead was extended to 6-2. Domi jumped on a Luca Sbisa turnover and brought it into the slot. He drew both Winnipeg defenders with him, leaving a wide-open net for Artturi Lehkonen to tap it in.
The Habs continued to shut things down in the third period. In the end it was a 6-2 final, with the shot clock reading 48-29 for Montreal. This was one of the better performances of the season, as after a shaky start, the Habs owned this game en route to the big victory. Before getting to the three stars, I would like to with all the HabsWorld followers a very happy and healthy holiday season!
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Tomas Tatar
Tatar was key for the Habs in all three zones. The play to save a goal in the first minute was huge for this game. If Winnipeg scores on that play, this game could have been a different story. With another two goals tonight, Tatar continues to lead the Habs in points, and he is now tied with Gallagher for the lead in goals as well.
Stats: 2G, +2, 6 SOG, 3 hits, 18:08 TOI
Second Star – Phillip Danault
Phillip Danault is such a smart player and is criminally underrated outside of Montreal. He does everything right all over the ice. Not only did he score twice tonight (including the game-winner), he was key for the Habs defensively as well. Danault has helped Tatar and Gallagher, and they have become one of the most reliable lines in the whole league.
Stats: 2G, +3, 7 SOG, 1 hit, 19:23 TOI
Third Star – Max Domi
Domi has caught fire, after struggling earlier in the year. With another two points tonight, he has now collected eight in his last six games. Even though the game was well in hand when it happened, Domi’s assist on the Lehkonen goal showed how he has the speed and skill to take over a hockey game.
Stats: 1G, 1A, +1, 6 SOG, 16:24 TOI
Honourable Mention-Nick Suzuki
The Habs’ powerplay always looks way more dangerous with Suzuki on the ice. His dual-threat of shooting and passing is quickly becoming very lethal. If teams cover his shot, then he has the ability to find seems and create passing lanes for himself. Also, when left open, he has the ability to beat goalies clean.
Stats: 2A, +1, 2 SOG, 1 hit, 17:31 TOI