Rabid Habs

Salute To Therrien’s Troops

Habs' Manny Malhotra

“It can be harder to come back towards the end of the year, when teams are playing at a higher level and competing for a playoff spot, but I’ve been around for over 20 years so I know what to expect.” – Sergei Gonchar.

After a two to one shootout win on Valentine’s Day, the Montreal Canadiens would be meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs again at the Bell Centre, looking to extend their three game win streak to four. The Canadiens have won their first two games this season against the Leafs, extending their streak to four in a row dating to last season. The also had a successful game against Columbus on Thursday night, beating the Blue Jackets five to two. On the opposite side of the ice, Saturday marks the start of a four-game road trip for the Leafs, which has played seven straight one-goal games and won two in a row after starting that stretch 0-4-1. The Leafs are sitting at number 26 in the league, having lost 36 games (five in OT/Shootout), while the Canadiens sit second in the league with only 16 losses. Generating both great offense and defense throughout the past few games, tonight would be an opportunity for the Habs to continue to maintain a firm grasp on their first place standing in the Eastern Conference and to once again hold victory over Toronto.

The Toronto Maple Leafs opened up the period with a power play due to high sticking on the Montreal Canadiens’ part, but the Habs were able to effectively kill the PP off despite struggling to keep the pucks deep in the Toronto zone. While the Leafs were remaining confident, the Canadiens were able to get the first goal of the night thanks to Manny Malhotra (with his first Canadiens goal of the season assisted by Dale Weise) only five minutes into the first period. The Leafs were responding by putting on great pressure in the Montreal zone while the Habs were keeping the game physical and fast paced, keeping Toronto scrambled on the ice while trying to get pucks past Carey Price. With seven minutes and three seconds to go, Tomas Plekanec (with the extra attacker) put the puck past Jonathan Bernier, giving the Canadiens their second goal of the night (assisted by Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban). The Habs were generating wonderful offense throughout the whole period, which gave them a strong advantage towards the Leafs who were still unable to put pucks past the net despite having chances to be just one point behind. In the final seconds, the Canadiens kept the Leafs in their zone, ending the period with a two to nothing lead for the Habs.

Despite the second period power play being a bust, the Canadiens fought back hard to keep the pucks deep in the Toronto zone but the Leafs were responding to the Habs’ two to nothing lead with an aggressive play and great pressure in the Montreal zone. While the Leafs got their chance on their second power play of the night five minutes into the period, the Canadiens once again were able to successfully kill off the PP. Carey Price was becoming the save king, sending the Leafs back to their side of the ice and not giving them the time of day. While the Canadiens’ and Leafs’ defense was on point, the offense seemed to be in one big jumble past the midway mark. The Habs, however, started to wake up in the final minutes of the second period and were keeping good pressure on but there just wasn’t enough time to put one more point past Jonathan Bernier and the Habs left the period with their two to nothing lead.

David Desharnais gave the Canadiens a great start to the third period with their third goal of the night (assisted by Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty) only one minute and one second into the period. The Leafs were getting angry on the ice, becoming aggressive while trying to keep the Habs from putting any more pucks in the Toronto net. A minute past the halfway mark, a Leo Komarov slashing towards Brendan Gallagher gave the Canadiens the power play they needed to respond back to the annoyed Leafs, taking every chance they had to take shots on net. On top of that, Dion Phaneuf’s unsportsmanlike conduct and hooking gave the Habs four more minutes of opportunities (four on three play) to put pucks past Jonathan Bernier. However, the Leafs were still keeping the pressure on along with generating great defense which gave Toronto time to give themselves a chance to at least put on point on the board. With four minutes left, the Leafs pulled Bernier out which gave a wonderful sense of anticipation throughout the Bell Centre and gave the Canadiens their fourth goal of the night thanks to David Desharnais once again. With two minutes to go, the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking quite desperate and tired on the ice, which was another strong advantage for the Habs. However, the Montreal Canadiens ended the game on a high note with a four to nothing win and a shutout for Carey Price, beating the Maple Leafs for the third time in the 2014-15 season.

Here are my thoughts about tonight’s game.

  • To be honest I can’t tell what I loved more, Manny Malhotra’s first goal or the fact that the Montreal Candiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third time this season. Screw it, I love both of them equally. First of all, I think most of us fans can agree that we’ve been waiting for the longest time to see Manic Malhotra finally get his first Habs goal and what a goal it was. Good on him. Second of all, the Canadiens needed a big win tonight before their little road trip to California and boy, did they get it. If there’s one thing I know for sure, is that the Canadiens will go into the playoffs strong and come out looking like gold. Job well done, lads!
  • The Montreal Canadiens play the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center on Monday at 10:00pm.

    (Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

    Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures