The Habs returned home to host the high-octane Devils on Tuesday night in what turned into a very entertaining contest for the fans in attendance. They did their best to keep up with the Devils but the fact that they had played the night before became apparent as the game wore on. There were moments in this game where the final score seems unfair to the Habs. Other moments in the game would dictate that the final score was a bit unfair for the Devils. In the end, the Devils skated out of the Bell Centre with a 5-2 victory.
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Josh Anderson
Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Alex Newhook — Juraj Slafkovsky
Tanner Pearson — Sean Monahan — Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta — Jake Evans — Jesse Ylonen
Mike Matheson — Justin Barron
Jordan Harris — Johnathan Kovacevic
Arber Xhekaj — Gustav Lindstrom
1) That’s Primeau being fed to the wolves and stepping up in a big way in the first period. Sure, the score was even and the Habs were ahead in shots, but the flow of play favoured the Devils and Primeau stood tall.
2) How about Pezzetta on Barron’s second game in a row opening the scoring? Big neutral zone hit by Pezzetta and then winning battles to get the puck to the net for the initial shot.
3) Everyone needs to understand that progress is the name of the game for this season. But that should mean progress on special teams too, right? How terrible do both the power play and penalty have to be before some significant changes are made? So frustrating to watch.
4) The Devils came out much stronger in the second period, but credit to the Habs’ entire defensive scheme as they really did a fantastic job of keeping them to the outside and limiting the dangerous scoring against their young netminder. It helped that Pezzetta, Slafkovsky, and Xhekaj delivered some big hits to keep the smaller Devils’ forwards hesitating. It would be even better to see the puck in the other zone, but these periods will happen when facing one of the league’s best offensive teams.
5) Both the second and third Devils’ goals were identical in that Primeau is trying to glove pucks that he should simply be getting in front of. They look like goals that most would like him to stop, but it’s a very small bad habit repeatedly costing him. Regardless, he had made more than his share of saves on the night that the loss should not be seen as one that is on his shoulders.
6) By the third period, the Habs looked like they were completely out of gas. Thanks, NHL schedule maker. That dedication to keeping the much more talented Devils to the outside simply wasn’t there anymore and it was a shooting gallery on Primeau for the first five minutes of the period.
7) What a call by the coaching staff to go 6 on 4 with nine minutes to play and it was rewarded with Matheson scoring a big goal.
8) About that goal, nice creative play to take advantage of a team overplaying the drop pass as Matheson went around and completed a Bobby Orr-esque goal. Despite the loss and the 16 games on the NHL docket, I’d wager this goal will end up a strong candidate for highlight of the night. WOW!
9) Matheson followed up his highlight reel goal by plowing through Luke Hughes on a forecheck. The very fact he was able to deliver those hits is representative of some significant obstruction by the Devils, but it’s one very annoying facet of the game that has returned in the last few seasons. Regardless, they were fun hits to watch.
10) Full marks for the team completely selling out and throwing everything they had at the Devils after the Matheson goal. Vitek Vanecek had to be sharp to keep the game from getting really interesting in the end.
HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars
1st Star – Justin Barron
In a game with very few positives, Barron was placed at the foot of a mountain. That mountain was a promotion to the top pairing, a spot he had never played at the NHL level, and doing so against one of the better offensive teams in the entire NHL in the Devils. He did pretty darn good, scoring the opening marker on the evening and then controlling multiple rushes from the Devils’ best as the Habs only allowed one goal at 5 on 5.
Stats: 1 goal, even, 3 shots, 4 hits, 21:22 T.O.I.
2nd Star – Mike Matheson
That goal alone was worth this nomination. Matheson really played a strong game, actually getting better as the game went on. That’s significant considering the ice time he gets, the change in partner for this game, and the fact that it was the second game in two nights.
Stats: 1 goal, even, 5 shots, 0 hits (I don’t know how they don’t count the two clear ones on Hughes?), 26:37 T.O.I.
3rd Star – Cayden Primeau
I’m not sure what the idea behind playing Primeau in this nearly impossible situation was, but if it was to get him shelled and then try to pass him through waivers (very, very doubtful that it was), then the objective failed because Primeau was rather solid on the night and likely saw his stock around the league go up. Now, sample size is important, so I’d venture the value hasn’t gone up by much, but it was a solid start for the young netminder. One that could see him build some confidence from which might actually make the whole three goaltenders thing even more complicated?
Stats: .879 save %, 29 saves on 33 shots, 4.15 GAA, 57:48 T.O.I.