Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Hold on, Beat Jackets 3-1

On the heels of ending a five game losing streak, Montreal had the chance to start a more positive streak on a rare Monday night game. When Columbus came into the Bell Centre, Montreal had the chance to end the Jackets’ six game winning streak with the red-hot play of Sergei Bobrovsky standing in their way.

Montreal flew out of the gate, scoring on their first two shots of the game. Brendan Gallagher continued his torrid pace with a wrist shot off the rush that beat Bobrovsky to open the scoring. Gallagher’s tenth of the year keeps him at the top of the Canadiens goal scoring race.

On a powerplay shortly afterwards, Jonathan Drouin put that broken digit to good use by firing a slap shot through an Andrew Shaw screen and over the glove of Bobrovsky. Drouin’s fourth of the year was the Habs’ second powerplay goal in as many games. Alex Galchenyuk and Jeff Petry added assists, as the three seem to have some serious chemistry brewing with the extra man. 2-0 Canadiens just eight minutes into the game.

On the defensive side of the first, it seems like the blue line is coming together, something I wouldn’t have expected to say while Shea Weber sits out with an injury and David Schlemko has yet to play a game for the Habs. Carey Price kept his strong return going with a goal line pad save on Nick Foligno in the first.

Montreal neutralized Columbus in the first period, but the Jackets were came out of the gate flying in the second. Something tells me John Tortorella’s calm, collected demeanor gave his team a chance to get their feet under them. The Blue Jackets were the better team in the second and the third and Price had to keep the Canadiens in the game. Price’s one “blunder” came on a Pierre-Luc Dubois goal. Josh Anderson, driving the net while being pressured by Joe Morrow, crashed into Price’s blocker, knocking the stick from his hand. Dubois banged in the rebound for his fourth goal of the year. Claude Julien would try his luck at the goalie interference challenge, but it failed. 2-1 Habs after the second.

The third started with Columbus picking up where they left off in the second. A lot of pucks at Price in a short period of time. For a while, it seemed like the Jackets tying the game was an inevitability. Fortunately Montreal’s penalty kill pitched another perfect game, and the Canadiens were able to weather the track meet that was the latter stages of the third. Shaw put the lid on this one with an empty netter. Montreal took this one 3-1, ending the Jackets six game winning streak.

With three divisional games coming up, let’s hope the Habs have sparked a winning streak of their own.

Special Teams

It’s funny how both the penalty kill and the powerplay have come together at about the same time. The powerplay has goals in consecutive games with points from the same trio of players; Drouin, Galchenyuk, and Petry. At the same time, the penalty kill feels a lot safer. Yes, Price has had to make his lion’s share of saves, but generally speaking, it’s looked better.

Carey Price

Oh yeah, he’s still good. Like, really good. You should read this thing where we talk about whether or not he can save the season. It’s a good one.

Playoffs?

These are the kinds of games that remind me of the games in mid-to-late April. Low scoring, great goaltending, and important special teams battles. This is how the Canadiens are going to win games; they’re not skilled enough to beat playoff teams on skill alone. You have to get great goaltending, and you have to win the special teams battle. Montreal can check off both boxes after their win against Columbus.

PLAYOFFS?!?!?

Sitting at 10-12-3, Montreal is only two points removed from the third place Detroit Red Wings. If the schedule shakes out in their favor, Montreal can be tied with the Red Wings with a victory over Ottawa on Wednesday with a convenient home-and-home series with Detroit playing out Thursday and Saturday.

Things often seem more bleak than reality. As bad as the Habs have been, they’re right in the thick of a pathetic Atlantic division. In reality, 90 points might be good enough to get into the playoffs (right now, Detroit is on pace for 85 points and they would be in the playoffs with that total).

That’s enough from me. Talk to everyone after Wednesday’s game against Ottawa.

Go Habs Go.

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

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