Habs Win First of Three Against Sens
In a game filled with playoff-like intensity, the Montreal Canadiens came away with 2 points while allowing the Ottawa Senators to remain close to the top of the division by earning the win in a shootout. It was unfortunate that such an entertaining game would come to this conclusion, but so is the reality of today’s NHL. The game was intense from the very beginning as teams spent the opening twenty minutes exchanging excellent scoring chances while not being able to complete the opportunities. It seemed like a bad omen that Montreal had for the most part been the dominant team in the opening period. This was a wrong assessment on my part as Montreal continued to be the better team in the second period. Montreal was also first to get on the board as Weber dumped a puck into the Ottawa zone and the relentless forecheck by Lehkonen created a turn-over that landed on Danault’s stick who found Shaw for the tap-in. Danault then took a penalty that was costly as Turris and Brassard got together to score what was the nicest looking goal of the night as Brassard slap-batted one home. A few seconds later, Ottawa got a lucky one as a shot from behind the net played pinball between Price’s pads before finding the back of the net. This lead would last into the third period, but Ottawa was unable to keep up with Montreal on this night as Danault was left alone after more puck hounding by Lehkonen and he made no mistake this time. Seconds later, Gallagher spun around Phaneuf and scored from a bad angle, tying the bad goal score, but giving the Habs the lead overall. Karlsson would score on a seeing-eye shot to bring this entertaining game to overtime. Once that had expired after some really solid PKing by Weber and Benn, Byron and Radulov made quick work of the shootout.
1. Jordie Benn must be the best addition to this roster at the deadline. He continues to make Davidson and Beaulieu look good when partnered with the young guys. This has been super important as Emelin has struggled mightily and Petry also struggled on this night. Speaking of Davidson, I expect Emelin back in tomorrow, but Davidson played smart and safe hockey, which means Emelin better play smart tomorrow if he doesn’t want to return to the hot dog box.
2. Radulov, Lehkonen and Gallagher are the catalyst on their respective lines. The other players are important too, but the lineup is set-up how it should be right now, and the lines go as well as the three players mentioned. On this night, it was the second unit lead by Lehkonen that was the creator of momentum and many other good things, including 2 of the 3 regulation time goals for the team.
3. Danault was Jekyll and Hyde tonight. Makes a nice pass on the first goal, takes a penalty on the equalizer, makes the bad giveaway on the fluky go-ahead marker, then completes some solid forecheck to tie the game. If he can find a way to get the good without the bad, Montreal has itself a second line that can play some serious hockey, and drive opponents wild with that forecheck.
Not much rest as both teams are right back at it tomorrow. Wonder what excuse Boucher will throw to the media if the Habs win again? Regardless, if tonight was any indication, make sure to be glued on your television set for the 7pm start time tomorrow, it should be a dandy!
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