Quick Strike Offense Bails Out Questionable D in Win Over Rangers
With both teams coming off terrible performances, this Rangers-Habs contest promised to be a game that would be hard fought and very entertaining. Montreal had the good fortune of seeing a few returns as Galchenyuk and Shaw were back in the lineup and both contributed in very different ways. The game started with both teams hungry and exchanging good scoring chances. Danault was opportunistic as he cashed in a rebound approximately five minutes into the game. The goal was called back, and I can only guess that the ruling was that Shaw embellished being pushed into the Raanta. Shaw was once again at fault when he took an interference penalty that brought upon the first Rangers goal of the night, a perfect top corner shot by Pirri. Montreal spent most of the rest of the period in the box, thanks to the same Andrew Shaw.
Once Montreal was out of penalty trouble, they quickly got on the board as Galchenyuk got a sweet tip on a harmless looking shot from the point. Montreal got some momentum from the goal and carried the play for some time. Then a strange defensive decision by Emelin allowed a break-away against Price. The follow-through from the break-away pulled Price out of his and Nash converted on the rebound. The play would be reviewed and stood, which left many Montreal baffled. The one thing I have against allowing this goal to stand is that it really seemed inconsistent with the earlier refusal of the Danault goal based on incidental contact with Shaw. How can one be refused and the other stand when they were very similar types on contacts on the goaltenders? Before the period would end, Flynn would take advantage of some poor rebound control on the part of Lundqvist to tie the contest, and then Weber made a poor defensive read while on the power play to allow a short-handed goal by J.T. Miller.
Trailing by a goal to start the third, Montreal came out determined to take advantage of the fact that New York had played the night before. They were buzzing for most of the period before finally busting through in a big way and scoring three goals in just over a minute. It all started with Danault winning a draw and Emelin getting a shot through traffic and off of Clandening to tie the game. Then Pacioretty took advantage of an errand Redmond pass that found its way through the entire zone. Pacioretty went five hole on the breakaway for a go-ahead goal Lundqvist would surely like to get a second chance to stop. Not even 30 seconds later, Byron sent a puck into a crowd in front of the New York goaltender and the puck once again found a way into the net after hitting defenseman Clandening. New York would get one back to make things interesting but it looked like fatigue had set in as they weren’t all that threatening in the final minutes on this night.
1. The return of Galchenyuk made all four lines more effective at five on five as Danault and Plekanec playing 2C and 3C is exactly what this team needs. The return of three creative players on the top unit made them exponentially more dangerous and it was clear that New York understood this as the line was given much respect and space on the outside to protect the middle of the ice. Galchenyuk’s return also settled the power play. Their first of the night was a great example of this. Even if they didn’t score, they controlled the play in the opposition’s zone and create momentum.
2. Andrew Shaw got a raw deal in getting a goal refused due to getting pushed into the net. Then he got called a strange interference call. It was an infraction, but one that happens often, and rarely gets called. If I’m questioning the first two calls against Shaw, there isn’t much debating the third one. It was a dumb play by Shaw. The call on the ice was perfect though I don’t expect any supplemental discipline by the league. Shaw was only lucky that his teammates stepped up and killed the 5-minute penalty.
3. Zach Redmond is not a very flashy defender, nor are his passes always accurate, but his defensive play is so much superior to Johnston that he must remain in the lineup until some injuries clear up. He was lucky on the Pacioretty goal that the puck was not intercepted and fired into his own net, but he made many plays over the course of the game in terms of body positioning and physical play that he had certainly earn the coaches trust to even be out there that late protecting the lead. A secondary effect of playing Redmond is that it allows Barberio to be more puck focused as he is not worried about covering for Johnston and he can trust that Redmond will be there to cover for him. Barberio has also played better with the return of Redmond to the lineup.
4. Philip Danault found his way to the second line on this night and he was dominant in the face-off circle, on the fore-check and on the stat sheet as he pitched in with three assists on this night. Could it be that his line with Byron and Shaw could really take much pressure off of Plekanec and Lehkonen. Speaking of Lehkonen, he wasn’t statistically productive on this night, but he certainly was on the ice as he turned in a defensively solid performance, making many plays to keep New York in their own zone. Might be worth giving Lehkonen a shot next to Danault and Byron and playing Shaw with Plekanec and Flynn until Desharnais returns.
Habs are back in action during the afternoon on Monday. It’s a 3pm start in Detroit.
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