Rabid Habs

This Land Is Habs Land Pt. III: The Win

Habs' Brendan Gallagher

“I don’t feel any added pressure. I’m excited to be a part of this, to know that they have the faith to put me in there at this point in the season. I think it’s huge for me.” – Greg Pateryn

After a devastating five to two loss at the Bell Centre on Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, the Montreal Canadiens would be looking to break their two-game losing streak against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. Despite only having one win so far in the month of March, the Canadiens have had a lot of luck against the Islanders, beating them twice this season (three to one in December and six to four in January). With Saturday night’s game marking the final meeting between the two teams, this would be a great opportunity for the Habs to start generating points, especially since Therrien’s troops have a record of 1-3-2 and being outscored 17-8. On the other side of the ice, the Islanders will be trying to make up for their two to one loss to the Ottawa Senators on Friday night while also competing for top spot in the NHL with the Canadiens. The Islanders will also be welcoming Kyle Okposo (who still ranks second on the team in scoring) back to the line up after he was sidelined for the last two months due to injury. Considering New York has scored the 3rd most goals in the league (with top players like John Tavares contributing to that of course) and Carey Price winning games for the team, the Canadiens really need to step up their game and play the full 60 minutes or else they can say “goodbye” to first place and “hello” to humiliation.

The Canadiens opened up the first period creating scoring chances in front of the net while also generating speed and offense, but gave the Islanders their first power play of the night with Dale Weise taking a penalty for a hit on Michael Grabner. However, the Habs effectively killed off the power play and were making the Islanders work for the puck. Despite a slow start to the period (with only three shot attempts within the first 10 minutes), the Canadiens were able to keep the Islanders away from the Montreal net thanks to playing most of the period on the defense, ending the first 20 minutes scoreless.

A little tic tac toe just 58 seconds into the second period and Tomas Plekanec got his 20th goal of the season (assisted by Alex Galchenyuk and P.A. Parenteau), giving the Canadiens a one to nothing lead. With the Islanders back on the power play, the Habs got right back on the penalty kill which led to Max Pacioretty‘s second short hand goal (assisted by Lars Eller) only three minutes and 13 seconds in. The Habs were now ahead two points and the Islanders were still struggling to put pucks past Carey Price. The Islanders were able to kill off the Canadiens’ second power play of the night despite the Habs keeping the puck in the New York zone for most of the two minutes. While the Islanders kept trying to clear the zone and put pucks on net, Carey Price wasn’t going to let New York have any points on the board yet. With the last few minutes left, the Islanders were still suffering from defensive frustration, unable to put any pucks on net while the Canadiens kept creating more chances in front of the New York net. The period ended with the Habs leading two to nothing.

The Islanders were pushing towards their first goal of the night, trying to keep the Habs out of the New York zone, while the Canadiens were keeping the Islanders offensively and defensively frustrated. While the Islanders tried to shake off the Habs during their fourth power play (which ended in the last 30 seconds due to an interference penalty on Alex Galchenyuk), the Canadiens successfully (and once again) killed off another Islanders power play, which led to New York keeping the pressure on hard and giving them motivation to create good chances in front of the net. With over seven minutes left, the ice became a war zone as both teams were fighting for a point on the board. The Islanders got another chance on the power play to at least get one point on the board and get energy flowing in the building with just four minutes and 11 seconds left, which finally led to the New York Islanders getting their first goal of the night thanks to Josh Bailey with two minutes and 18 seconds left of the game. However, the Montreal Canadiens ended the game with a third goal from Lars Eller on the empty net and a three to one win.

Here are my thoughts about tonight’s game.

  • Lets face it, there’s still A LOT the Montreal Canadiens need to work on. However, tonight’s game was truly unbelievable and definitely a sigh of relief for most Habs fans (because we all know there will be fans who will complain about anything they can). From the defense and offense to the team creating endless chances in front of the net, the Canadiens looked sharp out there tonight and if you don’t think so then you need to really wake up since this was a BIG win for the Habs (doesn’t first place feel beautiful?). Now, let’s celebrate shall we?

The Montreal Canadiens play the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Amalie Arena on Monday at 7:00pm.

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

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @EarlxGreat.