Habs Dominate In 5-1 Win vs Ducks

Photo by Francois Lacasse / NHLI via Getty Images

Habs Dominate In 5-1 Win vs Ducks

The Habs dominated for a full 60 minutes at the Bell Centre Tuesday evening, when they beat the Anaheim Ducks in a 5-1 routing.

Brendan Gallagher managed to set the tone early, when he collided with Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and got the Ducks riled up to the point of targeting him all game long. This cost the Ducks; their emotion likely took over, and they were not focused on their game.

However, credit must be given where it’s due: the Canadiens played an exceptional game of discipline, sharp passing, and smart plays.

They even scored twice on the power play – something that had not happened in 21 previous power plays.

Here’s the recap of all three beautiful periods:

First Period: Shots 10-7 Montreal

Goals:

  • Andrew Cogliano (Unassisted), 5:19
  • Paul Byron (Jeff Petry, Torrey Mitchell), 19:00

As mentioned above, Brendan Gallagher, in the first minute of the game, collided with Bernier, leaving the goaltender slightly rattled. After being checked by the team doctor, he resumed play. There was no penalty, as the collision was purely incidental contact. But it got the Ducks gunning for Gallagher.

At 5:19, Andrew Cogliano scored right off the face-off, but a minute before the period ended, Paul Byron and Jeff Petry teamed up to even the score.

Petry took a shot, and it hit – and rebounded off – Bernier. Byron took the rebound and neatly netted it.

The period ended with the Habs outshooting the Ducks, and tied at 1.

Second Period: Shots 12-3 Montreal

Goal:  Tomas Plekanec (PPG; Paul Byron, Artturi Lehkonen), 12:35

When Gallagher found himself a target every time he was even near the Ducks net, he let it play out. At 8 minutes in, Nick Ritchie was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct against Gallagher.

The Habs did not capitalize on that power play, but just 2 minutes later, they got another try. This time, with only 17 seconds left, Tomas Plekanec got the Habs’ first power-play goal in 22 attempts.

He didn’t win the face-off, but Artturi Lehkonen managed to get his stick on the puck, pass it to Byron, who quickly sent it over to Plekanec, for the goal.

It was a much-needed power-play goal; there had been 3 power plays before this one, and not only did the Habs not score, the two minutes were not especially inspirational. This one connected, though, and seemed to open the faucet for the rest of the game.

The Ducks were held to only 3 shots this period, a quarter of the Habs’ shots on goal. The Canadiens were playing their game: speed, skating, and puck dominance. They easily bested Anaheim with these skills.

The Ducks were feeling the pressure: the end of the period saw a brawl, begun when Torrey Mitchell stepped in to fight Joseph Cramarossa. Cramarossa had just checked Brendan Gallagher, and Mitchell went after him, despite the period being officially over. Due to that, he was the only one penalized.

Third Period: Shots 12-3 Montreal

Goals: Jeff Petry (Unassisted), 4:32; Max Pacioretty (PPG; Jeff Petry), 8:52; Chris Terry (Michael McCarron, Nathan Beaulieu), 19:13

The period started with a Ducks power play. They not only didn’t connect, they got only 1 shot on goal. The Habs continued to keep them from getting those shots, and it frustrated – and shut down – Anaheim’s best players.

Jeff Petry scored 4-1/2 minutes into the period, getting the all-important insurance goal. Utterly unassisted, and from just inside the blue line, Petry sniped the puck through traffic to get a stunning goal:

After that, the Habs were looking more confident than ever. And when Jonathan Bernier was called for tripping (his penalty served by Rickard Rakell), Max Pacioretty wasted no time scoring on the power play – with Petry getting his 3rd point of the night.

With Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, and Petry skating against one lone Ducks defenseman, there was a lot of time for Pacioretty to take his shot, and he hit the mark:

But the Habs weren’t done yet: with less than a minute to go, Chris Terry scored his first of the season. With Mike McCarron passing it from behind the net to Terry who was on the other side, in front, Bernier was looking from one side to the other, but unable to stop the puck from flipping over his shoulder into the net. You can see it here.

The game ended with a decisive win, a 5-1 score, and Carey Price having stopped 12 shots to Bernier’s 29.

Some Thoughts

  • Carey Price is the 6th skater, or so it seems, sometimes; he plays that puck defensively or offensively, depending on the situation. At one point (and I tried to get a video clip of this but none was posted at the time of this piece), the puck was in play, and as it came his way, he simply swept it to his right with his stick, passing it to one of his teammates. Nonchalant, cool, and quick on the uptake, Price is – without a doubt – the best player in hockey. Even the announcers for the Ducks’ broadcast were marveling at how he is the 3rd defenseman, or 4th forward when needed.
  • Jeff Petry – the well-deserved first star of the night – scored for the 3rd game in a row, his first career 3-consecutive-game scoring streak. Humble when interviewed, he merely credited his teammates, and their system, which worked well to shut down the Ducks.
  • Brendan Gallagher has not scored in 10 games, but Tuesday’s game had him playing a different role: he drove the Ducks to distraction, and they spent much of the game trying to get back at him; it was an entertaining game in that Gallagher got them so riled up, drawing penalties, and raising their tensions until they exploded and the Habs used their calm to best them.
  • It was good to see an actual penalty called against a player who took Gallagher down. Usually, there is no call on those shenanigans, but the refs were left no choice (not always a guarantee of a penalty).
  • Paul Byron got his 11th goal of the season – just 2 behind captain Max Pacioretty. He plays big, and he plays smart; when asked about him, in the post-game presser, Michel Therrien actually shared a behind-the-scenes story about Byron:

 

He praised Byron immensely, talking about how he’s constantly amazed at the things Byron does. He said Byron has character, and we’ve seen this.

(Again – thank you, Calgary!)

  • Therrien praised his whole team, citing their work ethic as phenomenal, and their attention to detail as well honed. He’s right: the team showed what happens when a collective effort is made to play a full 60 minutes, never giving up. Even when it was 4-1, Chris Terry got the Habs’ 5th with 47 seconds left to play.
  • That kind of never-give-up attitude is what we’ve seen more often than not this season. Yes, there have been awful games, but no team is going to be “on” for all 82. The Habs are at 15-2-2 at home, which is the best in the league. That’s something to be proud of, Habs fans.
  • They’re at 32 points, 5th in the league, 4th in the conference.
  • Missing Andrei Markov, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, and Greg Pateryn, they’re still doing well. This season is settling in to be one of success. Feels good, and there’s a lot more to come.

Next game is Friday, December 22nd, when the Minnesota Wild visit the Bell Centre. Puck drop is 7:30.

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