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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.
For the second straight contest, special teams and the defence were strong as the Habs won their first road game of the season on Thursday night, 4-1 over Washington. This one was a bit more of a contested affair than the Canadiens' first victory against the Panthers but a strong second period, one where all of Montreal's scoring was done, proved to be more than enough for the win.
The first period was relatively uneventful; Montreal was unable to capitalize on a first minute powerplay and while the shot totals were somewhat high (11-9 Capitals), there weren't too many prominent scoring chances. Unlike in the first, the Habs took advantage of their early powerplay opportunities. Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring on a two man advantage and less than a minute later, on another powerplay, Andrei Markov doubled the lead blasting one home off of a rebound.
Raphael Diaz had several top notch shifts in this game, one of his best led to the Habs' third goal. Diaz, after blocking a pair of shots, chipped a pass to Rene Bourque who set up Brian Gionta for his second of the season. Interestingly enough, Diaz had enough time to get off the ice after making the pass and wasn't a plus on the goal despite getting an assist. The final tally came from an unlikely source as Josh Gorges got a point shot through Michal Neuvirth, a goal that for some strange reason was originally credited to Francis Bouillon.
Montreal really sat bad in the third period, garnering all of two shots in the final stanza. Washington was able to snap Carey Price's shutout late in regulation as Joey Crabb snuck into the slot and took advantage of the defensive miscue, snapping one top shelf past Price. For the second straight contest, the powerplay picked up a pair of goals (2/6 overall) while the penalty kill was solid as well, coming in at a perfect 4/4. Price made 30 saves in the win while Neuvirth only turned aside 18 of 22 shots in the loss.
HW 3 Stars of the Game
1st Star: Raphael Diaz - Curiously enough, he wasn't one of the official three stars but he played by far his best game of the season. He and Andrei Markov looked very comfortable running the powerplay while his 5-on-5 play was strong as well. He also tied for the team lead in blocked shots.
Stats: 2 assists, even rating, 1 shot (5 attempts), 1 takeaway, 3 blocked shots, 20:28 TOI
2nd Star: Carey Price - Like he did against Florida, Price took away any chance of Washington getting back into the game (or getting any sort of momentum going for that matter) by making the key saves. He is quicker going post to post this season and so far that has come in handy.
Stats: 60:00 TOI, 1 GA, 30 SVS, 1.00 GAA, .968 SV%, 2 giveaways
3rd Star: Andrei Markov - 'The General' (I actually like that nickname) lived up to Michel Therrien's nickname in this one. He was the catalyst with the man advantage and also made some strong passes in the transition game. Defensively he played smart and is developing some nice chemistry with fellow countryman Alexei Emelin.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, +1 rating, 3 shots, 2 blocked shots, 24:09 TOI (team high)
Honourable Mention: Max Pacioretty - He still hasn't scored yet but his passing skills were on display in Washington. He was more comfortable handling the puck (it was only Saturday that he often handled it like a grenade) and the aggression in his game was there from start to finish.
Stats: 2 assists, +1 rating, 2 shots (5 attempts), 15:42 TOI
Stats of the Night: The Habs hadn't allowed an even strength goal prior to Crabb's late game tally. For the second straight game, Montreal struggled at the faceoff dot; only Ryan White (5/8) won more than half of his draws.
- NHL Stat Sheet