Pacioretty Hat Trick Gives Habs A 5-2 Win Vs Sabres

Photo by Francois Lacasse / NHLI via Getty Images

Pacioretty Hat Trick Gives Habs A 5-2 Win Vs Sabres

A Pacioretty hat trick gave the Habs a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night in Montreal, as the Habs played another strong, dominant game on home ice.

Returning from injury were Greg Pateryn (in for Jeff Petry who has the flu), David Desharnais (who scored what ended up being the game winner), and Andrei Markov, who got an assist and the 3rd star of the night.

The Habs played a week ago in Montreal, when they beat the Flames 5-1. This time, the shut-out was busted with almost 4 minutes left to the game, but still, the Canadiens came out on top because they dominated early, and pressured Robin Lehner incessantely.

Here’s how it played out:

First Period: Shots 17-11 Montreal

Goal: Max Pacioretty (Alexander Radulov, Phillip Danault), 17:27

The Habs played well right out of the gate, killing a penalty and playing a strong – though unsuccessful – power play.

At 17:27, Max Pacioretty took a pass from Alexander Radulov, to make it 1-0.

A beautiful goal, a perfect pass from Radulov, the line of Pacioretty, Radulov, and Phillipe Danault has proven to be incredibly tight; they teamed up for the second goal too.

Here’s Pacioretty’s 22nd of the season (first of the night):

They almost got another goal before the period ended, but went into first intermission at 1-0.

Second Period: Shots 13-10 Montreal

Goals: Max Pacioretty (Alexander Radulov, Phillip Danault), 7:48; David Desharnais (Sven Andrighetto), 11:12; Paul Byron (Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec), 18:38

Pacioretty and the top line got the Habs’ second goal when Danault battled for the puck behind the Buffalo net. He passed it to Radulov, who immediately got it to Pacioretty in front, for the goal.

Four minutes later, David Desharnais, on a pass from Sven Andrighetto, netted his first goal since getting injured 24 games back, and it put the Habs up 3-0. When Desharnais snipes it on goal, we see the results:

And then, shortly before the end of the period, Paul Byron made it 4-0. Once again, Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec show why passing is so important, and how the Habs capitalize when their passing game is spot on.

Buffalo was frustrated in their efforts to score, and the period ended with a quick – but halted – scrum behind Price’s net, and the Habs up 4-0.

 

Third Period: Shots 18-5 Buffalo

Goals:

  • Max Pacioretty (Unassisted), 3:24
  • Dmitry Kulikov (Cal O’Reilly), 16:04; Brian Gionta (PPG; Cody Franson, Evander Kane), 17:48

It took 3 minutes, and Max Pacioretty got his 6th career hat trick, his second of the season, with this goal:

Sitting pretty at 5-0, the Habs continued to play a strong puck-possession period, and that got them to almost 4 minutes before the end of the game to protect Carey Price‘s shut-out.

But it wasn’t to be; on the face-off, the Sabres were able to score the shut-out buster, and before the game ended, former Habs captain Brian Gionta scored a 2nd goal – on a power play. The game ended with the Habs winning 5-2.

Some Thoughts

  • The top line – Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, and Phillipe Danault – is exquisite to watch. It wasn’t just their two goals that made them impressive this game. All game long, they were dominant with the puck – in both zones – and it paid off.
  • Bringing back 3 players from injuries, and adding Nikita Nesterov to the line-up, it could have been a less-than-solid performance. When lines haven’t had time to gel – or reacquaint themselves – it can lead to a lack of cohesive play.

That did not happen either. Nesterov looked right at home (and, in fact, thrilled to be with the Habs), and the team worked well together. The term “well-oiled machine” comes to mind.

  • Just one game back, and it’s clear why everyone was missing Andrei Markov. He makes every shift that much stronger. His assist on the Byron goal earned him a star, and rightfully so.
  • Have a look at all three of Pacioretty’s goals in one video.

Remember when, back in November, the Fickle Fanbase was calling for him to be traded?

When interviewed, his humility was beautiful. He said he got really great passes, support from his line, and his teammates, and the hat trick followed naturally based on that kind of support.

  • There is much talk about Pacioretty finally hitting the 40-goal mark this season. I wish that buzz would quiet down. While I understand how exciting a prospect that is, and how close he’s come in past seasons, focusing too much on that, and not on the important elements of the game, getting to playoffs, and going as far as is possible to the Stanley Cup, the 40 goals are important but not crucial. He’s at 24 now, it’s highly probable he will hit 40, but I remember two seasons back, when he was at 39 for the last handful of games and it seemed too much of a distraction – at least for the fans.
  • Michel Therrien, when asked about the “city’s collective freak-out regarding Carey Price possibly playing injured” (not mine – or a lot of other people to whom I spoke), stated that Price is the reason the team has the kind of confidence they do; and they do possess a visible confidence – they play with force, and finesse, and that have given them their season’s successes so far.
  • That makes two home games, a week apart, in which the Habs were unable to get Carey Price his shut-out – both of them unavoidable.

Still, the Habs gave their all, the hat trick defined the game (and, as it turns out, the win), and a 3-goal spread is a definitive victory. Kudos to Buffalo for continuing to work hard even as they knew they would not win. It’s to their credit that they didn’t just give up on a 5-0 deficit.

  • There’s always some concern that the All-Star break brings some lethargy, or cobwebs back for the return games, but if Tuesday’s game is any indication, it had the opposite effect on the Canadiens. Add to that the fact that both Price and Shea Weber were in L.A. for the All-Star weekend, they were both on point against Buffalo.

Perhaps it was the rest and relaxation – for all the players – that gave them this energy. Whatever it was, it worked.

  • The Habs are in top position in the division, 9 points ahead of the next team (Ottawa Senators).  They’re fourth in the Conference, and fifth in the entire league. The confidence is showing, and still, as Pacioretty said in his interview after the game, nothing is taken for granted.

It will be an exciting second half to this season, especially as we get closer to Brendan Gallagher‘s return, and hopefully Alex Galchenyuk‘s as well.

The next game is Thursday evening, when the Habs visit the Flyers in Philadelphia. Please note that puck drop is a half-hour earlier than home games, 7:00 p.m.

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One Response to Pacioretty Hat Trick Gives Habs A 5-2 Win Vs Sabres

  1. Glad to see the HABS get a quick to this next packet of games over the next two weeks. Glad to see that 3 of our walking wounded made it all the back to the ice and played in the game. A little disappointing to see them give up 2 late goals inside the final 4 mins with a 5-0 lead. Again this happens too often for a top ranked team. Glad to see Danault to do the hard work on that top line. I love his work ethic in all the tough spots – behind the net, the corners fighting for puck possession. He almost always makes a well placed pass to the front of the net etc and very rarely turns it over with wild unaided passes. Radulov is like the Kovalev of the current era for us. Simply a magician with the puck. But I’m more impressed with his work hard ethic and great overall teamwork. I’ appreciate the excitement of a player having a multi goal game like the next guy. But why does this only happen for Max against two bottom feeder teams(Aves and Sabres) and not against teams in the Top 6 where he often goes missing?

    A desperate team awaits us in Philly for next game. Hopefully we can come out attacking once again. This team plays much better when it attacks instead of laying back.

    Roger February 1, 2017 at 3:20 am Reply

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