The Habs kicked off a busy week with a visit to Winnipeg as they faced the surprising Jets on a cold Monday night where the Jets were looking to regain the lead in the Central Division. The Jets played a physical game and battled back to keep it close, but the Canadiens were resilient and managed to skate away with a 3-2 overtime victory.
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Juraj Slafkovsky
Sean Monahan — Jake Evans – Josh Anderson
Joel Armia – Christian Dvorak – Brendan Gallagher
Michael Pezzetta — Mitchell Stephens — Jesse Ylonen
Mike Matheson — David Savard
Kaiden Guhle — Justin Barron
Jayden Struble — Johnathan Kovacevic
1) The first three quarters of the first period saw the Jets imposing a physically slower pace of the game and spending most of the period in the Habs’ zone. The Canadiens were lucky as Winnipeg hit the post twice which would have drastically changed the outlook of this game.
2) The last seven or so minutes of the period saw Montreal hit the accelerator as the Jets still got puck possession time, but the quicker pace of play was a clear strategy deployed by the Habs as they were able to turn the table for shifts at a time. The period ended scoreless and 6-4 on the shot clock for the Jets.
3) The second period started with what can only described as a strange penalty call. Slafkovsky was sent off for hitting Mason Appleton while skating with the puck. I’m not saying he didn’t clip Appleton in the mouth with his elbow, but Appleton clearly initiated the contact. Weird call but the Habs were able to kill it off.
4) The Habs opened the scoring five minutes into the second period as Anderson and Matheson teamed up for a great forecheck that resulted in the Jets being unable to clear their defensive zone. Evans ended up with the puck and passed it to Matheson who shot to the far side. Connor Hellebuyck made the save but the rebound went off Anderson and in as Anderson scored his third in the last five periods.
5) The Jets were called for tripping and the Canadiens made them pay with a power play marker. A strong play by Ylonen got the puck down low where Anderson grabbed it with his hand and placed it by his stick. A bouncing puck made its way to Dvorak who buried the puck. Winnipeg challenged for a hand pass as it was really unclear if Anderson’s stick touched the puck. The goal was allowed and the Habs returned to the power play as a result where they squandered a chance to really extend their lead.
6) Winnipeg closed the gap in the final minutes of the second period as Gabriel Vilardi won puck battles against Evans twice on the shift to extend an offensive zone chance. Fitting that the point shot that Plinko’d around ended up on Vilardi’s stick who was able to tuck home the opportunity and make it a one-goal game heading to the third period.
7) The Canadiens took another penalty in the opening minute as Barron went off for holding. Suzuki got a chance on the penalty and ended up smoking Josh Morrissey in the face with his shot. Although an unfortunate play, it helped the Habs who didn’t have to deal with the Jets’ power play quarterback and killed the penalty (Morrissey did come back with quite a gash on his cheek).
8) The Habs played a really solid period with a lead in the third. They did not sit back to protect their lead. They played safe yet aggressive in all three zones to alleviate some pressure on their defencemen.
9) After an excellent shift by the Suzuki line, the Jets cleared their zone and won a race against Kovacevic. It was another point shot where Allen didn’t control the rebound that allowed Cole Perfetti to tape in a rebound into an empty cage to tie it with a little more than seven minutes to play.
10) The Habs were fortunate to get a call in the final minute as Nikolaj Ehlers was interfered with before tripping Matheson. This meant they got a 4-on-3 in overtime where Matheson and Adam Lowry were called for coincidental minors that kept the game at 4-on-3 without the quarterback and important penalty killer. This ended up being important as Barron replaced Matheson and fired home the overtime winner with an accurate point shot after Hellebuyck overplayed Caufield.
HabsWorld Habs 3 Stars
1st Star – Josh Anderson
After a nice moment for him on Saturday night, Anderson came out flying and really never let up. The amount of puck races and battles won by Anderson on this night will make Martin St. Louis dream about having him back up on the top line. Fortunately, I don’t think that top line will be broken up any time soon and that’s fine as Anderson isn’t consistent enough with these efforts, but boy is he fun to watch when he plays like he has for the last few games.
Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, even, 2 hits, 1 shot, 16:18 T.O.I.
2nd Star – Mike Matheson
When Matheson is off, he is an adventure on skates. When he’s on, it looks like art on ice that victimized whoever it is he’s playing against. He was on tonight and the big physical Jets had very few answers for the shifty and dynamic defenceman.
Stats: 1 assist, +1, 1 hit, 3 shots, 25:59 T.O.I.
3rd Star – Christian Dvorak
As mentioned above, Dvorak is slowly rounding into game shape after missing a month and looking slow for his first month back on the ice. For the last few games, he’s started winning puck races and his fair share of puck battles too. He’ll never be my cup of tea personally, but it’s important to give credit when players peak and he really appears to be playing quite well these last few games. Here’s hoping he can keep it up and raise his value around the league.
Stats: 1 goal, even, 3 shots, 17:07 T.O.I.