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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.
On Saturday night, the Habs were looking to get things back on track after Thursday's loss on Long Island. They were also looking to exact some revenge on the Rangers after a tough loss at Madison Square Garden a couple of weeks ago. They did just that, picking up their second shutout of the week, with a 4-0 victory.
Montreal got things going early as their now-hot powerplay continued its recent success. Erik Cole skated in down the wing and wristed one past Martin Biron. Both teams had good chances in the first but aside from the Cole tally, neither side was able to get another one.
The Rangers carried the play in the early stages of the second in terms of territorial control but the Habs' defence corps, aided by the forwards, kept the puck mostly to the perimeter which prevented them from getting much in the way of momentum. Montreal captain Brian Gionta scored the only goal of the period, a wrister from nearly the same spot as Cole. This one had a degree of ugly to it but they all count the same on the scoreboard.
Indisciplined play was the story of the 3rd for New York. Ranger captain Ryan Callahan took an early hooking penalty and the Habs capitalized once again with the man advantage as Tomas Plekanec blasted one home (from the point no less) to make it 3-0. Gionta capped off the scoring, one-timing a shot home.
Carey Price picked up his second 4-0 shutout of the week, turning aside all 17 shots he faced. Biron took the loss, snapping the Rangers' 7 game winning streak in the process; he made 27 saves. The Habs, as mentioned, had a strong night on the powerplay going 2/6 while the Rangers were 0/3. This means Montreal's successful penalty kill streak has extended to 7 games and 24 straight successful kills.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Brian Gionta (2 goals, +2 rating, 5 shots (10 attempts), 19:15 TOI)
It was the captain's most impressive overall performance so far this season. He played a feisty game, got to the scoring areas (including in front of the net on the powerplay) and made good things happen all night long.
2nd Star: Erik Cole (1 goal, 1 assist, even rating, 3 shots, 17:56 TOI)
It's hard to believe that around this time a month ago, he was the talk of the town for basically doing nothing on the scoreboard. Even though he wasn't as physical as usual, he was still a force in the offensive zone while extending his season long point streak to five games (3-4-7) in the process.
3rd Star: Scott Gomez (2 assists, +2 rating, 4 shots, 14:43 TOI)
Like Gionta, the ex-Ranger had his best effort of the season. On top of his pair of helpers, he had several good scoring chances while he set up a few quality chances himself. He quietly has put together a series of effective games in a row which is a step in the right direction.
Honourable Mention: Carey Price (17 saves on 17 shots, 59:42 TOI)
It's hard not to give some praise to the goalie when he gets a shutout so he gets the extra nod in this one. He made the key saves early when necessary (including one before the game was 90 seconds old) that gave the offence time to do their job.
Stat of the Night: One of the things not discussed in the Montreal-New York game two weeks ago was the Habs' horrendous effort in the faceoff dot (19/50). They were able to turn that around a bit as they were 52% on the night in this one (27/52). Interestingly enough, the only two centres to record a point (Plekanec/Gomez) were the only ones who lost more draws than they won.
- NHL Statsheet