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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
The Habs were looking to bounce back on Thursday night after a tough loss the night before and they did just that, defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-1. The game got off to a terrific start for Montreal as Brian Gionta, making his first appearance in New Jersey since being named captain, scored just 11 seconds into the game. In fact, the goal was only 2 seconds shy of tying a team record for the fastest goal to start a game.
That seemed to give the team a jolt as Lars Eller picked up his 2nd goal of the season barely a minute and a half later, making it 2-0 and sending Devils' starter Johan Hedberg to the showers before he even had a chance to break a sweat. That forced journeyman minor leaguer Mike McKenna into the game but he didn't fare too much better despite holding the fort for the rest of the 1st. Tom Pyatt, Scott Gomez, and Benoit Pouliot each scored in the 2nd putting this one out of reach in a hurry. Jason Arnott broke Carey Price's shutout in the 3rd period, but Price still stopped 27 of 28 shots for the win. Hedberg (1 save on 3 shots) takes the loss, while McKenna faced 29 shots, turning aside 26.
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
1st Star: Roman Hamrlik (2 assists, +1 rating, 4 PIMS, 2 shots,
4 blocks, 22:57 TOI)
For the second straight night, Hamrlik gets my first star rating. The shutdown game was there, as was his offensive one once again, he now has 4 points in 2 games. I'd be lying if I said I expected Hamrlik to lead the team in points in consecutive games, I don't think anyone did.
2nd Star: Lars Eller (1 goal, 1 assist, +2 rating, 2 PIMS, 3/11
faceoffs, 12:39 TOI)
Faceoff stats aside, he had another strong game tonight and seems to have found some chemistry with Pouliot and Darche. ('PED' line anyone?) I noted this last night but he was once again very aggressive attacking the zone, an element that simply wasn't there as recently as two weeks ago.
3rd Star: Carey Price (27 saves on 28 shots, 60:00 TOI)
In a 4-goal game, it's tempting to forget the winning goalie but that wouldn't be doing Price justice. He made several big saves and basically thwarted any hopes of a Devils comeback early on. After a so-so outing against Edmonton, this was a good bounce back game for sure.
Honourable Mention: Tom Pyatt (1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 2/2
As soon as he scored, I just knew he had to be the HM tonight. He has worked so hard and his defensive play has been solid, it's about time he caught a lucky break and potted one.
Stat of the Night: It's typically a rare occurrence to have brothers face off against each other in a game as Brian and Stephen Gionta did tonight. Oddly enough, this wasn't even the first time this season this has been the case for the Habs as a pair of brothers squared off barely two weeks ago, those brothers of course being the Kostitsyns.
Brian Gionta (Roman Hamrlik, Tomas Plekanec) 0:11 1st
Lars Eller (unassisted) 1:38 1st
Tom Pyatt (Maxim Lapierre, Jeff Halpern) 2:30 2nd
Scott Gomez (Mathieu Darche, Yannick Weber) 8:37 2nd PP
Benoit Pouliot (Lars Eller, Roman Hamrlik) 9:57 2nd
Jason Arnott (Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus) 8:18 3rd
- NHL Statsheet