The Canadiens ran up a 4-0 lead on the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs and settled for a 4-2 victory Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Max Pacioretty again starred for the Canadiens scoring two goals, one of them while the Canadiens were playing shorthanded, his eighth and ninth of the season. Tomas Plekanec and P.K. Subban added the others. James van Riemsdyk and Mason Raymond scored for Toronto 22 seconds apart late in the second period. Shots on goal were 39-36 for the Canadiens. The three stars were Pacioretty, Subban and Plekanec.
Adding It Up –
Super Max – Two more for Pacioretty. If you’re counting, that’s seven goals his last six games. After managing only two in his injury-interruped first eleven starts, one of those into an empty net.
Momentum Killer –In the opening seconds of the game, Pacioretty drew an interference penalty on Carl Gunnarsson who held him up along the right boards as he was about to break loose into the Toronto zone. On that power play, P.K. Subban sent a long stretch pass from deep in his end to Pacioretty at the Toronto line. Alone all the way to the net, Pacioretty was stopped, stopped again and finally scored on the second rebound.
P.K. – Just another way to score. In the 17th minute Pacioretty handed the puck to Subban at the line. He made a quick deke to elude a forechecker and then surprised Bernier with a quick wrist shot. 2-0. Two points for Subban.
Running It Up – In the second period a lot of hard worked from Daniel Briere deep in the Toronto end paid off when he sent a cross ice pass to Plekanec who caught Bernier moving across the goalmouth and put the puck against the grain to make it 3-0.
Third Time’s a Charm – Included in Pacioretty’s spectacular night were three breakaways. He was stopped the first two. His third came in his newfound role as penalty killer. Eller sent him with Gunnarsson giving chance. Gunnarsson caught him but Pacioretty spun away from the check and backhanded it through the five hole. It was 4-0.
Letdown – At 18:10 of the second James van Riemsdyk lifted the puck over Price’s shoulder to ruin the shutout bid. Still smarting from that, Mason Raymond was left uncovered at the side of the Canadiens net 20 seconds later to make it 4-2.
Finishing the Job – In the third period the Canadiens took back territorial control. Carey Price made three big stops in the period on Tyler Bozak, Phil Kessel and Van Riemsdy – it was the closest they would get to putting their noses out front., otherwise it a solid period played mostly in the corners and along the boards. A satisfactory 4-2 win.
Going Separate Ways – The Canadiens and Leafs were in a flat tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference going into the game. It was the Canadiens sixth win in their last eight games while it was Toronto’s fourth loss in a row and seventh straight on the road.
In the Doghouse – Alex Galchenyuk took a totally unnecessary boarding penalty in the offensive zone late in the second period with his team leading 4-0. Toronto scored their first goal just after he came out of the penalty box. Galchenyuk was glued to the bench for the entire third period.
On the Move – After losing the first four games of November, the Canadiens wrapped up the month with with at least a point in nine of their last ten games (7-1-2). The streak has moved them from fifth to a points-tie with Tampa for second in the Atlantic division, five points behind Boston.
Also Worth Mentioning – …..Two of the Canadiens three top lines are functioning very well thanks to the resurgence. Daniel Briere has become a big factor on the line with Plekanec and Gionta and Brendan Gallagher has turned Pacioretty and Desharnais’ game around. …..Need to do something with the Lars Eller line which, while doing it’s job defensively, has had little to offer offensively since Gallagher was ……With both Douglas Murray and George Parros in the lineup, there was little of the Toronto rough stuff we’ve come to expect. Parros had his mandatory fight with Orr and the rest of the game was relatively quiet. …Douglas Murray deserves a mention. He played 22 strong shifts in the game and blocked five shots, one of them very big and painful came from Nazem Kadri with two seconds left in the first period while the Habs were killing a penalty to Tomas Plekanec. …..Also on my list was Travis Moen who continues to demonstrate why his coaches love him even if the public has mixed feelings on the matter. Moen moved seamlessly back and forth between the fourth line and the Plekanec line whenever game situations warranted. It’s the reason the Canadiens gave him a four year contract extension last season.
Quote of the Night – Carey Price on Douglas Murray’s shotblocking “I can’t emphasize how good of a goaltender he is. He always seems to be perfectly square and he’s got really good angles. And he’s got a big set of balls.”
Moving On – The Canadiens get a day away from the ice Sunday and then it’s back into the heavy 7 games in 11 nights with game four Monday at the Bell Centre, the first of a home and home against the New Jersey Devils. They’ll play the second half in New Jersey Wednesday and then 24 hours later it’s the Bruins at the Bell Centre.