The Habs were looking to get back in the win column on Sunday afternoon and
salvage a split of their weekend as they hosted the suddenly streaking Jets.
Unfortunately for them, a lack of offence proved costly once again while
Winnipeg capitalized on a pair of lucky breaks. That proved to be the
difference as the visitors proved victorious by a score of 2-1.
In the first period, Montreal got off to a sluggish start, getting dominated
at the faceoff dot and in the shot column. However, a mid-period powerplay
seemed to turn the tide. Although the Canadiens were unable to score with
the man advantage, they were able to generate several quality scoring chances
which swung the momentum in their favour. By the end of the frame,
Montreal was out-shooting and out-chancing Winnipeg but neither team was able to
tickle the twine.
The second period started off the same way as the first. Montreal
wasn’t able to generate any sort of sustained forecheck and the Jets controlled
the play early on. Unlike the opening 20 though, Winnipeg was able to get
on the scoreboard as Tobias Enstrom tallied on a wraparound, banking one in off
of Carey Price on the short side. That seemed to get the Habs going and
they started to get some chances. Of note, Brandon Prust hit the post and
Brian Gionta rang one off the crossbar but neither made their way into the net.
Fortunately for the Canadiens, their persistence paid off as Gionta scored
shortly after hitting the bar as he wristed one past Al Montoya, squaring things
up once again heading into the third.
There’s one word that could sum up that final frame for Montreal and their
fans, frustration. After killing off the tail end of a carry-over penalty
from the second, Price had a momentary lapse of judgement handling the puck and
it proved costly. The Jets got control and put a pass through the vacant
crease to Michael Frolik who deposited the puck into the empty cage to give
Winnipeg the lead, one they would not yield. Montreal had some chances
down the stretch but weren’t able to beat Montoya for a second time. The
Jets’ goaltender was involved in a very controversial non-call in the final
minute as Brendan Gallagher was being held back (in part by Montoya), preventing
the Canadiens from gaining the zone for the better part of twenty seconds in the
dying seconds of the game while causing a lot of angst for the Habs and the Bell Centre crowd.
Both teams were unsuccessful with their powerplays, each going 0/3 with 4:32
of PP time. Price, although both goals were shaky, played a good game,
turning aside 33 of 35 Winnipeg shots while Montoya also had a strong contest,
making 30 saves for the win.
HW 3 Stars of the Afternoon
1st Star: Brian Gionta: The captain has been playing some of
his best hockey of the season in recent games and this one was no exception.
Not only did he have the lone goal for Montreal but he also generated a few
other prime scoring chances. He had a lot of jump throughout the game and
was a consistent threat, something that can’t be said for too many other Habs.
Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 3 shots, 2 hits, 1 block, 16:32 TOI
2nd Star: Alexei Emelin: This was one of his better games of
the season. Emelin was one of only a few players who played physical early
while he also had some timely blocked shots. He also looked a lot more
comfortable on his off-side compared to just a few weeks ago where he seemed to
need that extra split second to assess where he should be positioning wise.
This was a positive sign for someone looking to get out of a slump.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 shots, 7 hits, 5 blocks, 19:24 TOI
3rd Star: Rene Bourque: Although his detractors will quickly
note the zeros on the scoresheet, it certainly wasn’t from a lack of hustle or
effort. Bourque drove the net regularly and with a purpose. The last
several games he has shown signs of turning it around but the results aren’t yet
there; if he keeps this up, it won’t be long before his improved performance is
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 shots, 13:41 TOI
Honourable Mention: Douglas Murray – It’s not an easy task to
contain Dustin Byfuglien but for the most part, Murray was able to accomplish
just that. He also logged a lot of time shorthanded; he and Josh Gorges
both played over 60% of the total PK time and were able to shut down Winnipeg’s
powerplay. It was a nice milestone game for Murray who suited up in his
500th career match.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 1 shot, 3 hits, 2 blocks, 15:35 TOI
Stat of the Afternoon: Lars Eller, who like Bourque showed some
signs of turning things around, now finds himself in a 14-game pointless
drought. That matches the longest stretch of his career (he also had a
14-game dry spell in 2010-11, his first year with Montreal).