Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Hold on, Beat Sens 2-1

Every game matters. I wouldn’t be surprised if some players needed to remind themselves of this every so often in a marathon season of 82 games.

I don’t think the Habs needed to be reminded of how important this game was. With the third place Detroit Red Wings just two points ahead of Montreal for the last Atlantic playoff spot, the Habs could reassert themselves in the playoff picture with a home win against Ottawa and an upcoming home-and-home series against Detroit.

Every game matters, and Montreal needed to take care of business in this one before thinking about what is to come.

The first period was odd for the Canadiens. I thought they played a decent game at full strength, but their powerplay took away any momentum they could have created. In fact, it was their first powerplay that resulted in the game’s first goal… for the Senators. Alex Galchenyuk tried a backhanded saucer pass to Jeff Petry, but it was intercepted by Mark Stone. Petry rushed back and tried to get a positional edge on the Senators’ forward, but couldn’t. Stone’s backhand gave the Sens the 1-0 lead and gave Stone his 14th goal of the year.

There was just something off on the powerplay from the start, and it seemed to put the Canadiens at a disadvantage. Their poor powerplay took the wind out of their sails and set up a disappointing first period.

The second period? Forget everything I just said. Despite giving Ottawa several chances on the man advantage, the Habs were just as stingy shorthanded. Their good start to the frame kept Ottawa back on their heels. The speed of Jonathan Drouin created a penalty shot, and that shot he made no mistake. On his first ever penalty shot, Drouin fired a perfect shot past Mike Condon’s right leg, off the goal post, and in for his fifth goal of the year. Don’t look now, but Drouin is heating up. 1-1.

The tie wouldn’t last long. After engaging in a battle down low, Max Pacioretty tied up two Senators’ defensemen. This allowed Andrew Shaw to corral the puck and find a streaking Phillip Danault with a blind backhand pass. Danault buried his fourth of the year giving the Habs the 2-1 lead. Also, Pacioretty and Shaw now have points in consecutive games.

In the third, propelled by a shift from the Hudon-Plekanec-Gallagher line, Montreal kept the pedal to the metal early. Charles Hudon scared the Bell Centre crowd later on, as he would limp off the ice after blocking a shot. He returned soon after, but it may be something worth monitoring going forward.

Some tense moments in the third passed without any damage. An odd dump in from the Senators hit a Canadiens forward and ricocheted towards the net. It wouldn’t have been an issue had Price not gone around the back of the net in anticipation of the puck. After a scramble, the crisis was averted.

Generally speaking, Montreal didn’t allow much of anything from the Sens down the stretch. Some perimeter shots, but nothing Ottawa could build off of. Price was forced to make a good glove save on Mike Hoffman after a clearing attempt hit two shin pads before finding the Senators’ shooter in the high slot.

Danault’s second period goal proved to be the winner, and the Canadiens finished of the Sens for their third straight win. Going in the opposite direction, Ottawa has now lost seven in a row.

In the blink of an eye, the race for the third seed in the Atlantic is wide open. The Canadiens head into the home-and-home with Detroit just one point out of that playoff spot with Boston winning on Wednesday night.

Jonathan Drouin

Let’s be clear about something; Drouin wasn’t playing poorly to start the year. Adjusting to a new team and a relatively new position, his point totals were respectable. Now, Drouin is hitting his stride and is on the verge of being a point per game player. Gotta love what you’re seeing from the kid right now.

Tomas Plekanec

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find Plekanec. At this point, I’m starting to feel bad for the guy. Defensively, he can still hang with some good competition. Offensively, I’m starting to think he’s cursed. In the first two periods alone, he must have had three grade-A scoring chances, and he failed to convert even one of them. His linemates, Charles Hudon and Brendan Gallagher are putting him in a spot to succeed, but he just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Maybe the dam will break eventually, but #AlmostPlekanec should have trended on Wednesday night.

Max Pacioretty

I’m not sure how one could watch the captain’s effort on Wednesday and say he’s not trying. He was trying to be more creative with the puck, evidenced by a nearly sensational move through Erik Karlsson, and he battled hard along the boards, evidenced by the assist on Danault’s go-ahead-goal. He’ll bust out of this slump soon if he keeps playing like this.

David Schlemko

I’m not sure I could tell this was Schlemko’s first game of the year. He was solid all night, and so was his partner Jakub Jerabek. Schlemko moves his feet and moves the puck well while playing attackers tough in front of his own net. One play from the end of the game won me over; trying to tie the game, the Senators threw the puck on net from the goal line. The puck hit Price awkwardly and he had to scramble for the puck. Schlemko searched for the puck momentarily, but didn’t dwell on it. Instead, he created a barrier and kept a Sens’ attacker from getting to Price. The puck was frozen and Montreal held on to win the game. A relatively unnoticeably play that made a big difference in the outcome of the game. Great debut from Schlemko.

11-12-3. It’s still not a pretty record, but this team is trending in the right direction with another shot to get two points Thursday night against the Red Wings.

Until then, take care.

Go Habs Go.

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

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