Rabid Habs

Bravo Canadiens

Habs' Lars Eller

“Jeff does great job of giving me the puck right on my forehand. Sometimes, it’s just hard to adjust to the move and just get up the ice. Usually, I’m moving on the right side. But, I just guess that it eventually comes with some repetition.” – Tom Gilbert

After a four to three shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Montreal Canadiens would be finishing their four-game road trip in Glendale at the Gila River Arena on Saturday night, where they would be facing the Arizona Coyotes for the second time this season. While the Canadiens have had a rough two games in California against the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks, Thursday night’s game against the Kings showed the Habs back to their old selves with Tom Gilbert and Brendan Gallagher putting two points on the board just minutes apart from each other in the second period, while Max Pacioretty gave Therrien’s troops a three to two lead just seven minutes into the third. The three goal effort was (and still is) an encouraging sign for the Habs despite the loss, after being held two a single goal in their previous two outings. On the other side of the ice, the Coyotes put an end to a 10-game losing streak on Thursday, achieving a three to two shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks. The team also currently sits 28th in the NHL with just 49 points in the standings. While the Canadiens lost three to two to the Coyotes on February first at the Bell Centre, playing Saturday night’s game like Thursday’s would keep the Habs odds of winning high, and a win tonight is what the Canadiens need to keep themselves first in the Eastern Conference and move them inches closer to the President’s Trophy race being led by the Anaheim Ducks. The Habs need this, especially if they want to skate through the playoffs with ease.

The Canadiens were opening up the first period looking sharp, creating great opportunities in front of the net and outshooting the Coyotes, as well as successfully killing off the Coyotes first power play and applying the pressure hard on the forecheck. While the Coyotes were playing well, it was the Habs that were generating the perfect amount of offense, especially from Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher. Despite a solid first period for both the Habs and the Coyotes, the period was left scoreless.

Arizona gained a second power play break just 13 minutes into the second period after their constant fight for a first goal of the night and just for the puck in general, but the Canadiens once again effectively killed the PP and were generating enough offense and defense to get the Coyotes out of their zone. While the Coyotes can get physical on the ice, it was the Habs instead that had turned the tables around giving Arizona hard hits all while putting the pucks deep in their zone. Even though Arizona had a couple of good opportunities to put the pucks past Carey Price, it was the Canadiens who finally got their first goal of the night with just five minutes and 12 seconds left thanks to Lars Eller (assisted by Devante Smith-Pelly). The Habs has an excellent opportunity to put pucks on net during their power play with the last few minutes they had left, but with the Coyotes creating a traffic jam in front of the net and time running out, the Canadiens left the second period leading one to nothing.

With the Canadiens staying in the lead for both the first and second period, the Coyotes were pushing forward and attempting to break up the Habs’ saving streak. Meanwhile on the other side of the ice, Carey Price was still keeping his “best goaltender in the NHL” title as he shot down every opportunity Arizona had to put pucks in the Montreal net. The desperate Coyotes were trying to match up to Therrien’s troops’ speed but the Habs were staying physical and working hard towards putting another point on the board, which was causing Arizona’s play to become slightly sluggish. With seconds left, Brendan Gallagher gave the Habs their second goal of the night on an empty net and the Montreal Canadiens were finally able to beat a “bottom feeder” team and end their four-game road trip with a beautiful two to nothing shutout win over the Arizona Coyotes.

Here are my thoughts on tonight’s game:

  • Jeff Petry‘s dad (former MLB pitcher Dan Petry) told Jeff that hard work will help you succeed in professional sports, and hard work is exactly what we all saw in tonight’s game from the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs had great solid period, beautiful puck possession, excellent offense and defense, and even played the whole 60 minutes. What was great about this game is that the Canadiens actually fought hard to beat a team that sits at the bottom league, and did it beautiful. Tonight, you all get a happy “end of the horrid California road-trip” gif:

The Montreal Canadiens play the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre on Tuesday at 7:30pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.