Canadiens vs. Jets recap: Confidence-boosting victory
Carey Price was back in goal for his first start since Marc Bergevin decided to fire his goalie coach earlier in the week. Could a new voice and new methods give us a rejuvenated price? Well, honestly that remains to be decided, given that Sean Burke will be in isolation from the coronavirus for a fortnight before he can join his new followers. That meant the question for Saturday’s game was essentially: What changes could Rocket Laval goalkeeper coach Marco Marciano implement in his early days as interim coach? Could he somehow restore Price’s confidence so soon?
Whether it’s Burke, Marciano or Dominique Ducharme in charge, the best thing any coaching staff can do at this point is to try to diminish the quality of the odds that opposition is allowed near the Montreal net. Early in the first period, the Canadians did it in an admirable way, perhaps not creating much attack themselves, but effectively preventing Winnipeg from putting its skates in the attacking zone.
After a power play that saw promising looks from both Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jonathan Drouin, Montreal had a first-class opportunity to take the lead. Brendan Gallagher issued a pass to the aforementioned Drouin, who cut butter like a knife on a hot Sunday morning. Sadly, Connor Hellebuyck has proven once again why he is considered a first degree goalie.
There would, however, be a goal scored in the opening period. Josh Anderson, returning from a three-game absence and effectively replacing Artturi Lehkonen in the lineup, received a pass from Kotkaniemi which bounced off the wall behind the net. Grade A intelligence from the young Finn, as his obviously deliberate pass fooled the entire Jets team, including Hellebuyck who came out to clear the puck behind his own goal, leaving the net wide open for Anderson to score ever since. slot. It was Anderson’s 10th goal of the year.
Both teams started the second period struggling to string together quality scoring chances. Instead, the puck moved quickly from area to area, without there seeming to be a cohesive idea behind either team’s offensive gameplay.
Fortunately, you are not so dependent on an ongoing attacking game plan if you have working goal scorers on your team. Seven minutes later, Tyler Toffoli scored his 15th goal of the season. That means the two wingers who were brought in to Montreal this fall to primarily help the team’s scoring problem combined 25 goals in the first 23 games.
Another guy who’s always had a knack for scoring is Brendan Gallagher. Tonight, he climbed even higher in the Canadiens’ all-time scoring list with two oddly similar goals in three minutes. Assisted by Phillip Danault and Tomas Tatar, commonly known as his usual partners in crime, Gally beat them at home to reach 10th of the year for him as well. We have to give extra credit here for Danault’s sublime no-look back double pass on that last goal. They were the icing on the delicious cake of the Habs second period.
That’s all she wrote for Hellebuyck. The normally formidable Jets goaltender surrendered after scoring four goals in just 19 shots and was replaced by Laurent Brossoit. Would Brossoit then provide an immediate spark for the struggling Manitoba team? No he doesn’t.
Drouin lasered a pass to his new teammate, Joel Armia, who hit him from a distance. Montreal went to the locker room with a five-goal lead and a great possibility of the first shutout of the year for Carey Price.
Winnipeg tried to shake things up, but as they buzzed around Price’s net, a shot took a detour through the hand of Trevor Lewis and ended up in possession of Jake Evans. Evans threw it down, looking for a break thanks to an icy call or a potentially lucky rebound from Brossoit. In the end, he got the latter. Skating phenomenon Paul Byron jumped on the rebound and scored the Canadiens’ sixth goal of the night.
Why stop at six when you can have sevenJeff Petry thought, and fired a sly punch from the blue line exactly four minutes later. Lots of traffic in front of the net helped Petry and cheated the keeper.
If he wasn’t already there to replace the starting goalie, I’m sure Brossoit would have liked to see the rest of the game from the bench. So far, the two Jets goaltenders had missed seven of the home team’s 27 shots, giving them a combined save percentage of 0.741.
Sadly, there would be a small dent in the Montreal Canadiens’ otherwise brilliant effort. With 10 minutes to go, Alexander Romanov was awarded a penalty for tripping. In the power play that followed, Mathieu Perreault, from Drummondville, scored to implode the possibility for Carey Price of a well-deserved shutout.
The final minutes of the game have passed as both teams just wanted the game to end, albeit for totally different reasons. The Canadiens claimed their 11th victory, by a score of 7-1, in a way that will inspire confidence throughout the team, as they now return west for a 12-day, six-game streak at outside.