Led by two power play goals from Andrei Markov and a strong performance from their penalty killing units, the Canadiens recorded a solid 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Alex Galchenyuk scored his first NHL goal. Playing in his first game, Brendan Gallagher assisted on the goal. Tomas Plekanec also scored.
It was a game dominated by the Canadiens special teams, both power play and penalty killing.
The three stars were Galchenyuk, Markov and Carey Price who stopped 27 of 28 Florida shots.
Adding It Up
Making a Statement – The Panthers were playing their third game in four nights and the Canadiens took them to the woodshed in the first period. They took control early and 14 minutes into the game they were outshooting Florida 12-3 and had a 2-0 lead on goals by Plekanec and then Markov on the power play.
Grinders – The Canadiens toughened up their lineup during the off season by adding Brendon Prust and Colby Armtrong to a team that already had Rene Bourque, Ryan White and Alexei Emelin. They took the road weary Panthers to the woodshed in the first period, outhitting them 19-7. The final total was 37-19. Emelin leading the way with nine recorded “hits”.
The Kid 2.0– Alex Galchenyuk was moved to centre and took a regular turn between Brendon Prust and Brendan Gallagher. And he put in 2;45 on the Canadiens power play. It was on a power play late in the second period where Galchenyuk showed his stuff. He had a scoring chance that forced a faceoff deep in the Florida end. After losing the faceoff he checked Jerred Smithson preventing Florida from clearing the puck. He then positioned himself in front of the net for a tip-in of Brandon Prust’s shot. His first NHL goal set off a Bell Centre standing ovation. The goal came six seconds after the power play had ended. Gallagher drew an assist for his first NHL point. Safe prediction – the Sarnia Sting will have to do without Galchenyuk the rest of the season
He’s Baaack – The game’s best player was Andrei Markov in every department; power play, penalty killing, playmaking, skating, leadership. This was the vintage Markov. Two power play goals, 23:06 ice time, 5:41 on the power play and 5:36 killing penalties. That first period goal was his first since November 10th, 2010, over two years on the calendar but only sixteen games in his career, because of that knee injury.
Shut Down – The Canadiens were one of the NHL’s best penalty killing teams last season. In that department, nothing’s changed too much. They got a lot of practice in this game. They were shorthanded for a quarter of the game (15:29). That included a five minute stretch early in the third period when White was handed a five minute fighting major and then Markov went off for interference. Over that stretch, including the two minutes when they were two men short, the Panthers managed to outshoot the Canadiens just 3-2.
The Dreaded Power Play – As good as the Canadiens penalty killing was last year, the power play was equally bad. 28th-in-the-league bad. This difference this year from last, may be Markov. Paired with Raphael Diaz with the man advantage, he scored both power play goals as the Canadiens were 2 for 6. In two games they are now 3 for 11.
Most Improved Hab – Discounting the Markov comeback, may I nominate Rene Bourque. I always felt he was damaged goods when he came to the Canadiens from Calgary in the trade for Mike Cammalleri. He had established himself as a player with an “edge” to his game with the Flames and demonstrated none of it in Montreal. So far, the “edge” seems to be back. He earned his spot on the left side of the Plekanec line by the third period of Saturday’s Toronto game and has carried on with four hits and a plus-one performance against Florida.
From the Scoresheet – Shots on Goal – Max Pacioretty (5); Hits – Alexei Emelin (9); Blocked Shots – Josh Gorges (5); Faceoffs Won/Lost – Plekanec (8/9 – 47%)
Quote of the Night – Carey Price when asked whether the ovation for the Galchenyuk’s first goal was the loudest he’d ever heard at the Bell Centre, dryly said “Well it ranks in the top 100.“