Rabid Habs

Tying A Knot In The Devil’s Tail Pt. II

Habs' Jeff Petry

“We had a really tough time killing penalties. I understand that this is the best power play in the league, but we have to do a much better job than to let in three goals.” – Michel Therrien

Friday night for the Montreal Canadiens would mean having the opportunity to bounce back from a two-game losing streak, as well as making up for Thursday night’s five to four loss in the shootout to the Washington Capitals. At the Prudential Center, the Canadiens would be taking on the New Jersey Devils, a team that the Habs previously beat in both January (4-2) and February (6-2). However, despite holding the top spot in the Atlantic Division due to Tampa Bay’s overtime loss on Thursday, the troops have been allowing an average of just 2.24 goals per game and have now given up a total of nine over their last two outings. On the other side of the ice, the Devils lost three to two against the Columbus Blue Jackets most on Tuesday and are coming off a six-game losing streak. Nevertheless, New Jersey have the NHL’s ninth best power play (something the Canadiens have been struggling with for the past while) as well as goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who made 29 saves during the Devils’ three to one loss against the Carolina Hurricanes. With both Andrei Markov and saviour Carey Price out, Sergei Gonchar (returning from a nine-game absence) and Dustin Tokarski will be coming in to take their places, which means the Canadiens are going to push twice as hard on the blue line and while the Habs could possibly rebound and sweep their season series, they’re going to have to work for it.

The Devils got the opening goal right at the midway mark thanks to Stefan Matteau (assisted by Adam Larsson and Andy Greene), but Tomas Plekanec (assisted by Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Gallagher) was able to snap one into the New Jersey net on the power play with five minutes and 21 seconds left of the first period, which was followed by a Jeff Petry goal at three minutes and 18 seconds (his third goal in three games). While the Habs weren’t quite awake during the first half of the period, they energy started to flow after the troops grabbed their first power play of the night. Despite ending the period with a nearly even puck possession, the Habs still took the two to one lead.

Reid Boucher (assisted by Steve Bernier and Jon Merrill) gave the Devils their second goal of the night four minutes and 37 seconds into the second period, making the score even between the Devils and the Habs. However, not everything was gold as ex-Hab Scott Gomez tried to get away with a nasty elbow hit to Alexei Emelin‘s face, which led to a give minute major, game misconduct, and a five minute power play for the Habs. While the Canadiens didn’t succeed in putting any pucks in the New Jersey net, they were still able to ward off the Devils and keep the score tied until the period ended.

Both the Canadiens and the Devils were creating good opportunities in front of each other’s nets, despite both teams taking quite a few slips around the ice. After another Emelin hit (and what seemed like a long look for a tie breaker), the Canadiens earned the five-on-three power play they needed to get their energy back while outshooting the Devils (30-17 by the end of the third period). However, the Habs struggled to put any points on the board and with seconds left, both teams scrambled for a goal but ended up taking the game to overtime.

With overtime being unsuccessful, the Montreal Canadiens and the New Jersey Devils went into the shootout, where Patrick Elias scored the winning goal for the Devils.

The Montreal Canadiens play the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Sunday at 5:00pm.

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

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @EarlxGreat.