After almost letting their last game get away from them in Tampa Bay tonight’s game was rather the opposite as both teams were unable to secure control or a lead for that matter. Montreal is coming off a shootout win where the Florida Panthers are coming off a loss in the extra period so the stage was set for both teams looking to continue their point streak. Well as it turned out both teams would do just that however tonight our Canadiens were the ones who would walk away with the two points. Yet just like two nights ago the Habs decided to make it harder for themselves by lacking that killer instinct and allowing Florida’s defense dictate their approach.
After some serious penalty trouble in Tampa Bay the Habs played a much more disciplined game tonight in Sunrise playing a man down for only four minutes. Their second penalty coming at 12:57 with Josh Gorges being called off for tripping certainly could have spelled the end for Montreal in this tilt. A harmless poke to the skates is a terrible way to cost your team however the Habs were able to regroup and put all of their focus on keeping the game level which they were able to do. It is no secret the penalty kill had been Montreal’s bread and butter in recent years however this year coming into tonight they are ranked 16th at a clip of 81.54%. Not exactly the kind of numbers you can feel comfortable with.
After a very quiet 40 minutes in the third period Jonathan Huberdeau had the game on his stick but was unable to beat Carey Price one on one which would have certainly sealed the game for the Panthers. One thing that drives me wild about Price is that he makes every save (including the impossible ones) look for lack of a better word easy with his smooth and easy-going approach. Nerves of steel indeed. Speaking of Price with tonight’s win he now leads the league in wins with eight and also earned his 17th career shutout.
The majority of Montreal’s shots were non-threatening and were in an attempt to wear down Theodore by just throwing everything they can towards the net in hopes of a fluke. There have been several games this season where the Habs either tried to force a play or look for a big opening for a shot while other teams have been peppering Carey Price with shots from all angles. Tonight Montreal took that approach and although it did not pay off in regulation they kept Jose Theodore on his toes in a very tight game.
Overall, not a pretty game from either side and from what I gathered from Twitter, quite the snoozefest. After losing three straight the Habs have now rattled off two straight victories completing the sweep in the sunshine state. The schedule will not get much easier with the enigmatic Philadelphia Flyers, the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes and the surging New York Rangers. Also two of their next five games are against the Rangers who currently sit just two points back of the Habs and certainly those games will be must win situations. Moving forward Montreal is going to have to become more assertive and will need more offensive production from Pacioretty and Cole. Those guys know what is expected of them and I am confident that they will get things going sooner rather than later as their droughts have gone on for far too long. the scary thing is when they do teams will have to readjust to their potentially explosive play and have been known to put up points in streaks. Let’s hope that starts this weekend.
GO HABS GO