Rabid Habs

Postgame: Habs Struggle in 3-1 Loss to Carolina

The first game back from the Christmas break didn’t look promising for the Canadiens.

With the CBA prohibiting travel on December 26 and several players allegedly dealing with illness, the Canadiens rolled in to Carolina late Wednesday morning (presumably) with pockets full of used tissues and lineup uncertainty.

At puck drop, Brett Lernout and Charles Hudon pulled into the lineup in favor of David Schlemko and Byron Froese, respectively. This clarification is just a formality. In the first period, I’m not sure anyone in a white sweater knew they were in the lineup. Fulfilling a pattern of poor starts, Montreal laid an egg in the first against Carolina. Before the four minute mark of the game, the Hurricanes were on the board. Teuvo  Teravainen broke the tie with a perfectly placed slapshot that beat Carey Price over the blocker. For the 23rd time in 36 games, the Habs surrendered the first goal.

The score at the end of the first period was somewhat misleading. The period would end 1-0, but Carolina dominated the Canadiens to the tune of a 16-6 shot advantage. That six is generous for the Canadiens considering the fact that they made it to the mid-way point of the period with just two shot attempts; only one of which reached the net.

The first period was understandably bad for the Habs. We knew it could be heading into the game. The second period was a huge step in the right direction, culminated by a beautiful goal from Alex Galchenyuk. Cutting threw the neutral zone with speed, Galchenyuk carried the puck to the slot, cut to his left, and beat Cam Ward with a perfect wrist shot inside the left post. Galchenyuk’s ninth of the year came with Jeff Petry’s tenth assist and tied the game at one just five minutes into the frame.

Even though they just got the one goal, the Canadiens were noticeably the better team in the second. A 13-8 shot advantage was the result of a much better second period.

The third felt a bit tentative by both sides. Neither team wanted to take a ton of chances with points being so crucial.

Unfortunately, Galchenyuk got called for holding and sent the Canes to their third powerplay of the game. The third time was the charm for Carolina, as Sebastian Aho buried his ninth of the year on a rebound. It is difficult to say who was to blame, as no one in white was even close to Aho when he scored and it is difficult to say who should have been covering him. 2-1 Carolina.

After almost no push back from the Canadiens, the Hurricanes put a fork in this one. Aho put his second of the night into an empty net on a great lob-pass from Jacob Slavin. 3-1 Carolina.

A somewhat expected let-down game that still managed to be disappointing. Montreal’s playoff hopes are all but eliminated. With Boston beating Ottawa on Wednesday night, the Canadiens are now nine points out of the playoffs.

Carey Price

The goalie in white was the only player ready to go in this one. Price made 15 saves in the first period and was the backbone of the Canadiens, as he often is. It looks like October Carey Price is gone. His season stats won’t reflect that, but his play and his impact on this team will.

Alex Galchenyuk

Too much has been made of Alex Galchenyuk’s play this season. Even though he’s been one of the Canadiens more consistent offensive weapons this season, the “way he plays” has been harshly criticized this year. Against Carolina, Galchenyuk was the Canadiens’ best skater. In the second intermission, Pierre LeBrun made a good point; with a shot like his, he should shoot the puck more often. Like, all the time. I think we’d all like that a lot.

Unfortunately, he took two penalties, one of which resulted in a powerplay goal for Carolina, and I’m sure that’s all anyone will take away from this game.

Penalty Kill

It’s bad. They seem clueless out there. I haven’t had time to look at the tape, but I’m sure not having a number-one guy out there hurts them. Even so, this is a disappointing penalty kill.

That’s all I’ve got tonight. Montreal will try again on Thursday when they head into Tampa for their first game of the year against the Lightning.

Go Habs Go.

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

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