Apparently the Canadiens haven’t read the memo. They scored two goals on their first three third period shots to take a lead, gave up a late goal and then won in a shootout to move two points ahead of the Senators in what is clearly a very intense battle to win the Atlantic Division.
This season the Canadiens have trailed going into the third period 31 times and somehow have managed to come back to win eleven times. No team in the league comes even close to accomplishing eleven comeback wins.
I suppose we can post all kinds of theories about this phenomenon but I think it comes down to speed. When the Canadiens have their skating legs they tend to wear down opponents through the first two periods and then take advantage. How else to explain the Canadiens 73-61 third period edge in third period goals after scoring 47 in the first and 60 in the second. And they have outscored opponents 9-6 in overtime.
LEFT THE DOOR OPEN –
The Canadiens played the first half of this game well enough to have mounted a considerable lead. But as we’ve seen more often than not this season, Montreal goals are hard to come by. A badly timed penalty to Philip Danault led to a power play goal midway through the second and the Senators, feeding off the momentum, took the lead just over a minute later while outshooting the Canadiens 9-2 through the last nine minutes of the period.
Lack of puck-luck on the part of the Canadiens is something that might be self induced. But in this game the hockey gods might be credited for the Canadiens comeback. Philip Danault got a nice bounce in front of the Ottawa goal to tie the game and somehow Brendan Gallagher, who had another of his relentless nights, found a hole on Craig Anderson from a nearly impossible angle to give the Canadiens the lead.
PLAYOFF RUN –
One could nitpick about this game but in the end it was a terrific bit of entertainment. I would have liked to see the Canadiens so-called “good players” playing more effectively; meaning, the top line of Galchenyuk, Pacioretty and Radulov, especially Galchenyuk who seems to have trouble maintaining game-to-game consistency. But they did work hard and Danault, Andrew Shaw and Artturi Lehkonen made up for whatever was missing from the top line. That line produced the first two Canadiens goals, five scoring points and twelve of the Canadiens 32 shots. Second best line was Plekanec/Byron/Gallagher.
….It was another dreadful night on the faceoff dots. The Canadiens lost almost two thirds of the them with Galchenyuk at 29% and Plekanec at 38%. The Karlsson goal that sent the game into overtime came off a clean faceoff win from Danault by Derek Brassard.
….The Canadiens came into the game ranked 27th on the road in penalty killing and gave up another one. At the same time the Canadiens power play has now gone seven games without a goal.
….For those keeping score at home, seven of the Canadiens last ten wins have come in either overtime or shootout.
….As I wrote earlier, all nitpicking. They won the game on the road. How they did it isn’t very important in the long run.
MOVING ON –
The second half of the back to back games will be at the Bell Centre Sunday night. The Canadiens enter that game with a two point lead over the Senators who still have that pesky game in hand. This game will start a six game home stand, their longest of the season. After the Senators it will be Detroit Tuesday, Carolina Thursday, Ottawa again next Saturday followed by Dallas and Florida to close out the month. At first glance it appears to be a favourable schedule but these things have been known to come off the rails. And if 93 points is the cutoff point for making the playoffs ass eems to be conventional wisdom, the Canadiens need tow in three of their final eleven games to clinch a spot in the post-season show.