Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Extinguish Flames, Win 3-2

After taking care of the Canucks in a wild 7-5 game on Tuesday night, Montreal had a chance to secure a winning record in western Canada on Friday night when they took on the Calgary Flames.

Oddly enough, this one didn’t start like many of the others. The Canadiens thought they had the lead in the first minute; a feat that would buck a trend of bad starts. Just 55 seconds in, it seemed like Max Pacioretty had busted his slump with a slick backhand shot that went through Mike Smith’s pads. Unfortunately, Glen Gulutzan challenged for offside and was technically correct. To the NHL, this is the best kind of correct. While Pacioretty, skated down the right wing, Paul Byron was engaged in a battle on the left wing. Just before Pacioretty skated over the blueline, Byron’s skate appeared to come off the ice, negating the play.

This isn’t what offside challenges were supposed to do, but I’ll get to that later.

The offside review could have been pretty deflating to a team that has faced this sort of result all season, but it wasn’t. Montreal went back to work immediately and put more pressure on the Flames. Just after the half-way mark of the period, they were rewarded with another goal created by a Jordie Benn point-shot. A seeing eye shot that found its way through a Byron Froese screen put Montreal on the board (for real). The goal was originally given to Benn, but it was changed after a review saw the puck hit Froese on its way to the net. That’s his first goal as a Montreal Canadien, and Alex Galchenyuk’s assist gave him 20 points on the year. 1-0 Montreal.

Carey Price was his normal self, making some critical saves early, and the Habs took a lead to the dressing room.

The second seemed to be more of the same for the Habs. As a team, they kept Calgary’s offensive weapons pretty quiet, forcing their mobile defense to do a lot of the heavy lifting offensively. Price continued to make saves, and the fourth line continued scoring goals. Froese, putting together another good night, took the puck in the corner and chucked it at the net. Smith, unable to control the puck, gave up a rebound that was batted out of mid-air by Nicolas Deslauriers for his fourth of the season. Daniel Carr would be given another assist on this goal later on, giving him ten points in nine games with the Habs this season. 2-0 Montreal.

The Canadiens continued their dominance in the third, as they started the period with the powerplay. Generating a fist-full of chances, Montreal eventually converted; Brendan Gallagher’s 14th of the season from Tomas Plekanec and the freshly healed Artturi Lehkonen gave Montreal the 3-0 lead. The Canadiens generated nine shots on goal to start the third before the Flames got one.

Calgary did eventually get things going in their favor. About mid-way through the period, Michael Frolik took the puck down the left wing and fired a shot off the post. Michael Ferland, skating hard to the crease, had a tap in to make it 3-1.

A Byron penalty in the late stages of the third gave Calgary a chance to make it a one-goal game, and they did. Matthew Tkachuk made it 3-2 with about two minutes to go.

After a crazy finish to this one, the Habs held on to win 3-2. The third period wasn’t a Picasso, but two points are two points.

Offside Challenge

I was a big fan of the coach’s challenge when it came into the league. I saw it as a way for the teams playing in the game to have a positive impact on the way the game was officiated or, at the very least, regulated. When it comes to goalie interference, the rules are too blurry to expect a second look to provide clarity. On the other hand, the offside rules are too rigid for video review to be effective.

On Pacioretty’s goal that was disallowed, Byron’s skate coming off the ice was offside by the rule of law, but it had no impact on the play whatsoever. Pacioretty still scores with a backhander regardless of the height of Byron’s skate. Glen Gulutzan, wisely, took advantage of rigid offside rules to give his goalie a mulligan for a stoppable puck. This is the NHL.


Charles Hudon

None of us wanted to see Hudon (Chud) sit. Even when he’s not scoring, Hudon is a fun player to watch. It’s hard to see Hudon come out of the lineup when guys like Froese and Deslauriers seem pretty replaceable.

Then Froese has a multi-point game, Deslauriers gets his fourth goal of the year, and Claude Julien looks like a genius.

I still don’t think Hudon stays out of the lineup for long, but for the time being, it doesn’t seem like Julien made the wrong call.

That’s it for me. Your Habs are right back at it Saturday night when they take on the Oilers.

Go Habs Go.

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

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