The Montreal Canadiens played once again against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night for game two of their mini-series. Habs head coach Dominique Ducharme juggled his lines once again after the loss on Monday night with the right wingers moving around – Josh Anderson was on Nick Suzuki’s line, Brendan Gallagher went to Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s group, while Joel Armia was on Phillip Danault’s trio.
Carey Price got the start again after showing lots of improvement in his previous outing. The Canadiens were quick out of the gate once again and wasted no time peppering Thatcher Demko with shots on net, doing a good job of pressuring the Canucks and keeping them in their own zone looking for the early goal.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi took the first penalty of the game seven minutes into the game as he hammered Travis Hamonic into the boards and was called for boarding.
At this point of the game Montreal had outshot Vancouver 7-0 and things seemed to be on the up and up. Alexander Edler was the next one to take a penalty and gave Montreal their first look on the power play as he got called for interference.
The Habs were buzzing around the net eager to take the lead but Demko seemed to be on his game early making save after save. We had our first fight of the game as Ben Chiarot took on J.T. Miller late in the period looking to spark his team.
Montreal finally got on the board as Kotkaniemi off a turnover behind the net got a great pass from Tyler Toffoli and beat Demko with a sick wrist shot that went five-hole for the 1-0 lead.
The Canadiens got a second chance on the man advantage with two minutes left in the period when Quinn Hughes got called for holding but couldn’t double the lead. In the end, the Habs finished the first period outshooting the Canucks 16-4 in a frame that looked one-sided.
At the beginning of the second period, it was announced Chiarot would not return to the game after apparently injuring his hand in the fight with Miller.
This time it was the Canucks pressing early in the period looking for the tying goal and putting Montreal under some pressure. The Canadiens responded on the ensuing play when Corey Perry got a great pass from Paul Byron and undressed Demko to make it 2-0.
Four minutes into the period, the Habs were penalized again when Brett Kulak was called for high sticking. Vancouver took full advantage and on the next play, Brock Boeser tipped a slap shot from Hughes past Price to cut Montreal lead to one.
Three minutes later, the Canadiens would have another chance on the man advantage when Miller was called for tripping and the Montreal power play went back to work.
Despite once again putting immense pressure on the Canucks and controlling the play during the advantage, they weren’t able to score. They kept coming in waves and getting pucks on net and making life difficult for Vancouver.
A couple of minutes later the Canucks took another penalty when Marc Michaelis got called for hooking Danault and the Habs made them pay as this time Shea Weber blasted the puck past Demko for the 3-1 lead and a goal on the power play.
The momentum was clearly with Montreal as they were spending most of the time in the offensive zone outshooting their opponents and looking for goals.
Montreal had a great chance early in the third when Danault was sprung on a breakaway but couldn’t solve Demko. Jeff Petry solved him soon after though with a great shot when he got a pass from Kotkaniemi to make it 4-1.
A couple of minutes later Danault got called for hooking and Montreal’s penalty kill went back to work trying to contain Vancouver. On the ensuing play off a turnover, Toffoli had a great chance on a breakaway but couldn’t beat Demko.
The Canadiens once again managed to kill the penalty and went right back to work in the offensive zone looking for more goals. With less than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Vancouver took a penalty for too many men on the ice giving Montreal another chance on the power play although they couldn’t capitalize.
However, Montreal’s scoring on the night wasn’t yet done as Danault potted his first goal of the season with six minutes left on the clock with a great pass from Joel Edmundson, tapping it in to make it 5-1 which is how it ended as the Habs now turn their focus to Thursday night in Calgary where we can expect Jake Allen to get the start.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
He got the offence going with the first goal of the game and was all over the ice. Whether it was offence or defence he seems to be really hitting his stride and becoming the valuable centre the Habs have been looking for for many years. He battled hard on every shift, made some great passes to his teammates and the new line seemed to work.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 4 SOG, 1 hit, 1 TKA, 14:57 TOI
Second Star – Jeff Petry
The reliable Habs defenceman continues to excel at his game and was a big part of the dominating performance. On the power play, the penalty kill, and even 5-on-5, he was solid on the ice scoring a goal and setting up a few other strong chances.
Stats: 1 goal, +1, 5 SOG, 2 hits, 23:28 TOI
Third Star – Philip Danault
He finally scored his first goal of the season 25 games in and got the proverbial monkey off his back and actually played a pretty good game. He was decent in the faceoff dot winning 42% of the draws and is that reliable centre that can be counted on.
Stats: 1 goal, +1, 3 SOG, 1 TKA, 16:38 TOI
Honourable Mention – Carey Price
He had another solid outing and it seems the change in goaltending coach paid off as he is playing better in the net and was outstanding tonight. The Carey Price we saw is one Montreal fans had been hoping to see since the beginning of the season and hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.
Stats 23 saves, 1.01 GAA, .959 SV%