It wasn’t the way head coach Michel Therrien wanted to mark his return as head coach of the Canadiens. His hockey team came up woefully flat in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre Saturday night. All three goals in the game were scored on power plays. Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak gave Toronto a 2-0 lead. Phil Kessel assisted on both goals. Brian Gionta, playing in his first game in more than a year, got the Canadiens back in the game with a goal at 13:51 of the third period. Toronto outshot the Canadiiens 26-22. The three stars were Nazem Kadri, Ben Scrivens and Brian Gionta.
Adding It Up -
What Might Have Been - The Canadiens put the puck in the net first when Brandon Prust, playing his first game, pushed the puck past Toronto’s Ben Scrivens. As the referee saw it, Scrivens had no chance with Ryan White draped all over him. No goal. White in the penalty box for goaltender interference.
Bad Sign - The Canadiens picked up the first two penalties of the game. At 4:51. with eleven seconds remaining in the second one, Nazem Kadri picked up a rebound and fired it past Carey Price. It was Toronto’s first shot of the game.
On Their Heels - Over the next five minutes the Leafs outshot the Canadiens 8-1 but failed to score on Carey Price.
Doing the Job - The newly formed fourth line of Ryan White, Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong was the Canadiens best by a country mile. Prust fought the Leafs Mike Brown early in the first period. They had a big role in penalty killing and as Therrien said after the game “they were hard to play against”; something couldn’t be said for most of the rest of the team.
Could Have Been Worse - But for Carey Price the game would have been out of sight by the middle of the first period. Not much support for the Canadiens goaltender as the “scoring chances” were lopsidedly on the Toronto side of the ledger.
The Good News - Andrei Markov had an excellant game on defense and led the Canadiens with 24:08 ice time on 28 shifts. The quality of his game allowed his defence partner, Alexei Emelin to do what he does best which is hitting anything that moves. Emelin led the Canadiens with six solid hits highlighted by a leveling of Kadri late in the second period. It reminiscent of the good nights Mike Komisarek had playing with Markov.
The Kid - Alexander Galchenyuk stayed out of trouble in his debut game. He took two shots on goal, both of them good scoring chances. His first shot, a hard wrister, handcuffed Scrivens and presented a fat rebound but there was nobody in the neighbourhood to take advantage. Until late in the game he played with Gionta and Plekanec. He was shifted to the Eller line as Rene Bourque replaced him in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Quote of the Night - Michel Therrien on his number one line Desharnais/Cole/Pacioretty, “The execution was not there.”
Statistic of the Night - The Canadiens won 62 percent of the game’s faceoffs (34 won/21 lost). Plekanec was 13 and 7. The problem was, after winning the draw the Leafs promptly took the puck away from them. Gionta mentioned after the game the lack of support which led to many of the turnovers.
Terse Dressing Room Summation - Carey Price “If that’s our worst game of the season, I’ll take it.”
Next Up - Alexei Kovalev and the Florida Panthers Tuesday at the Bell Centre. Kovalev had a goal and two assists in the Panthers 5-1 win over Carolina Saturday night.