Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Shaw
Galchenyuk – Drouin – Lehkonen
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Hudon – McCarron – Mitchell
Mete – Weber
Alzner – Petry
Morrow – Benn
Jacob De La Rose, Brandon Davidson
David Schlemko – hand, Ales Hemsky – concussion symptoms, Nikita Scherbak – knee, Carey Price – lower-body
Canadiens fans are fond of complaining that their team doesn’t get any breaks from the officials. Whether true or not, the Habs got a huge break tonight. And it decided the game.
With the Canadiens being beneficiaries of a power-play in overtime, Max Pacioretty somehow escaped a sure trip to the box for interference on Dustin Byfuglien. Remaining on the ice, Pacioretty scored the game-winner. And the Canadiens quickly left the ‘Peg with two points in their pocket before anyone changed their mind.
To say that the Canadiens are inconsistent is an understatement. Inconsistent game-to-game, period-to-period and even within a period. Such was the case in this game.
Fifty shots on goal is very impressive particularly when Canadiens goal scorers like Pacioretty and Shea Weber are getting six shots each. Weber was getting a lot of clean looks from a passive Winnipeg penalty-kill. But the shot total is tempered a little knowing that Jordie Benn also had six shots on goal.
The possession numbers shouldn’t really be a surprise. Coming into this game, Montreal was third is Corsi for percentage in the league. And the Jets were 29th. Yet, the teams are at opposite ends of the standings.
So full credit to the Canadiens for limiting Winnipeg shots, for scoring three times on the power-play and for battling back in the third period after losing the lead. Exploiting the porous Jets penalty-kill, struggling at a pathetic rate of just 61.9 per cent at home, was key to the Montreal victory.
Andrew Shaw made a point of going to the net and was rewarded with two goals. In addition to the game winner, Pacioretty had two assists with all three points coming on the power-play. Alex Galchenyuk looked much more comfortable playing in the top six with an assist and five shots in almost 19 minutes of icetime.
Weber was a beast in the Montreal zone, while picking up two assists in more than 29 minutes.
On the other side of the coin, the Habs defense looked embarrassingly immobile when facing the Jets quick strike offense. The Canadiens had their own issues on the penalty-kill giving up three power-play goals to the Jets. And Al Montoya didn’t fare particularly well with a save percentage of .826 for the game.
In addition to being quick, Winnipeg was very physical outhitting the Habs 25-11. We’ll see what effect that has on the Canadiens as they play again 24 hours later in Chicago.
It was quite a mixed bag for the visiting team but unlike previous games, they did not fold when facing adversity. And the Canadiens fought hard enough to take full advantage of their big break when it arrived.
▲ Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Shea Weber, Max Pacioretty
▼ Joe Morrow, Charles Hudon, Victor Mete, Jonathan Drouin