Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Blowout Red Wings, 6-3

No Drouin. No Weber. No problem.

One mark of a good team is how they perform in games that matter. Now in yesterday’s postgame, I said every game matters. And that’s still true. This game mattered in the sense that it could change the outlook of a team by taking them from outside the playoff picture and putting them right into the thick of it. Considering the Habs were without their number one blueliner and their only offensively minded centre, it would be an uphill battle. Not only did the Habs take two clean points out of Detroit, they did some relatively remarkable things in the process.

The Canadiens started by doing something somewhat rare on Thursday when they played their first game at Little Caesar’s Arena.

They scored first.

Coming into the game, Montreal had only scored the game’s opening goal eleven times in 26 games. The Habs got the ball rolling on another goal from Brendan Gallagher who tipped home a Max Pacioretty wrist shot while on the man advantage. Gallagher’s 11th of the year leads the Canadiens, Pacioretty got his third assist in as many games, and Daniel Carr picked up the second assist for his first NHL point of the season.

That was about as good as the first period got for Montreal. From this point on, Detroit dominated. Montreal native Anthony Mantha scored his 12th of the year by firing the puck off of Victor Mete’s stick and over the shoulder of Carey Price. Towards the end of a period-long ambush, Detroit’s powerplay connected for a pretty goal that beat a screened Price. On a give-and-go style play, Gustav Nyquist played catch with Tomas Tatar. Moving laterally, Price looked to his right and had the puck go over his left shoulder. Tatar’s eight of the year gave Detroit the lead after the first period.

The first was far from ideal, but somewhat expected. Considering the roster the Canadiens iced on the second half of a back-to-back, the result was understandable. At least to me it was. The Habs disagreed, exploding for three unanswered goals in the second period. Charles Hudon, Andrew Shaw and Alex Galchenyuk scored from mere feet away from the night. Hudon’s third, Shaw’s sixth and Galchenyuk’s sixth gave Montreal a 4-2 lead going into the third. After being outshot 13-6 in the first, Montreal closed the gap to 22-19. Hudon and Shaw’s goals flipped a script of sorts, as the Habs scored twice in under a minute; something that had happened to them on a regular basis.

Montreal put this one on cruise control in the third, and for a bit, it felt dangerous. “Cruise control” was starting to look a lot “sitting back” before Montreal potted another goal. Gallagher’s 12th of the year (holy moly is he good) on yet another deflection gave Montreal a 5-2 lead with about 12 minutes to go in the third.

Pacioretty finally got a goal of his own in the third, pushing a loose puck over the blueline with a little help from Jonathan Ericsson. His eighth of the year ends an eight game goalless drought. 6-2

Frans Neilsen potted a meaningless goal on the powerplay to make the final score 6-3.

Third place in the Atlantic belongs to Montreal on a night where they finally got back to five-hundred.

12-12-3.

Boy, the Atlantic stinks.

Max Pacioretty

Three assists in three games. Finally scores an absolute garbage goal, giving him four points in three games. Regardless of whether or not he pushes the puck over the line, Pacioretty has been playing some good hockey as of late. The energy his teammates put into every shift is infectious, and it’s clearly rubbing off on the captain

Jacob De La Rose

This was a weird game for him. Asking a fourth line centre to play on, what is essentially, the “top line” is really tough. He did about as well as I thought, maybe a little better. He got the assist on Galchenyuk’s goal on a really nice feed. It was a good spot start for a player that should never be forced into this position again.

Jeff Petry

My goodness. Two points tonight. Four points in his last five. Just dominant play. Petry’s resurgence helps the Habs survive (thrive) without Weber, but it will help later on too. When Weber comes back, Claude Julien can’t keep playing him into the ground. His ability to lean on Petry gives Montreal a good one-two punch on defense.

The Powerplay

I’ve been seeing a ton of negativity about this powerplay. I’ll admit that it doesn’t always look good, but it’s hard to argue with results. Two powerplay goals tonight, one against Columbus and one against Buffalo. Over four games, that’s four goals with the man advantage.

They don’t ask how, they ask how many.

Montreal has the chance to win their fifth straight game on Saturday when the same Red Wings come into the Bell Centre to finish the home-and-home.

Until then, take care.

Go Habs Go.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan and follow @RabidHabs for more updates! 

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