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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 first time this season, the Habs blew a 3rd period lead but were able to overcome that to beat New Jersey 4-3 in overtime on Sunday night. Montreal got off to a surprisingly strong start before settling into a slower paced, tighter checking game we're accustomed to seeing when the Devils are the opponent.
The fourth line picked up their first goal of the early campaign to open the scoring as Ryan White potted one from right in front of Martin Brodeur. It was his first NHL goal since the final day of the 2010-11 regular season. Montreal doubled their lead on a perfectly executed two-on-one, Alex Galchenyuk fed the pass to Brendan Gallagher who one-timed a shot past Brodeur for the rookies' first career NHL goal. Patrik Elias got New Jersey on the board in the 2nd, redirecting a weak point shot from Mark Fayne past Carey Price; the shot bounced before re-directing off Price's glove and in.
The third period got off to a strong start for the Habs as Brandon Prust picked up his first goal in the bleu, blanc, et rouge, batting one out of midair past Brodeur. Galchenyuk picked up his second assist of the night on that tally. Those two forwards, however, played an instrumental role in the Devils' second goal as both took high sticking minors at the same time. David Clarkson took full advantage of a cross-crease opening, pushing one past Price to restore the deficit to one. The comeback was completed with just under 7 minutes left on a goal from Dainius Zubrus.
Both teams had chances in the early stages of overtime; Ilya Kovalchuk had the best one as he rung a hard shot off the post. Andy Greene took a holding penalty with 59 seconds remaining in the extra frame giving the Habs the powerplay. Montreal had struggled with the man advantage prior to this opportunity but they made the most of it as Andrei Markov scored from in tight after a missed shot from Rene Bourque (a familiar theme in this game) to give the Habs the victory. Price made 22 saves in the win while Brodeur turned aside 28 shots in a losing effort. The Devils were 1/4 on the powerplay while the Habs were 1/5.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Andrei Markov - He was leaned on heavily in this one and had no issues with the extra responsibility. Plus, of course, he had the game winner in overtime which makes this a bit of a no-brainer; he has had the winner in three straight games. He is playing like the franchise defenceman that he once was and that fans dreamed he could still be.
Stats: 1 goal (GWG), +1 rating, 3 shots, 1 hits, 2 giveaways, 29:50 TOI (game high)
2nd Star: Alex Galchenyuk - This was the first game where I felt he was a consistent threat for the entire night. He quickly is developing chemistry with fellow rookie Gallagher and his poise with the puck was quite impressive.
Stats: 2 assists, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 2/7 faceoffs), 11:34 TOI
3rd Star: Alexei Emelin - No, he didn't have any highlight reel hits as we're accustomed to seeing but in terms of his defensive zone play, that was one of his best games in his young NHL career. Like Markov, he was given a lot more ice time than usual (getting matched against Kovalchuk will do that) and he handled it quite well.
Stats: 1 assist, even rating, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot, 27:08 TOI
Honourable Mention: Brendan Gallagher - One thing I've really appreciated from him so far is his feistiness, he hasn't been backing down from bigger opponents and didn't against New Jersey either, tying for the team lead in hits. He also made a very smart read on his goal by getting himself separated from the defender and into a shooting position.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 4 hits, 12:26 TOI
Stats of the Night: Yannick Weber didn't take advantage of Tomas Kaberle's late removal from the lineup. He played just one shift in the final 30 minutes of the game. Rene Bourque was in a mood to shoot - he attempted 13 shots (a season high for the Habs). Unfortunately, only 3 made it to the net, 3 others were blocked while 7 more missed the net entirely. Of course, that final miss led to the game winner.
- NHL Stat Sheet