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The Habs Net a Second Win

August 6, 2020, 10:26 AM ET [722 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
If the rookies lead the charge offensively in the last 2 games, last night the Canadiens' vets came to play. Claude Julien had finally seen enough of Jordan Weal and replaced him with Jake Evans in his line-up. Straight off the bat, the attack pressed on and was rewarded just before the 5-minute mark. Shea Weber, who had joined the attack, took a couple of rebounds and buried the second one with the helpers going to Byron and Lehkonen. Mike Sullivan felt there was goaltender interference on the play but the referees didn't agree so Pittsburgh found itself in a 1-0 deficit and with a player in the box. The Canadiens failed to convert on that opportunity however and it was soon their turn to be sent to the box. While the Pens power play had been pretty harmless in the first 2 match-ups, it wasn't the case last night. A beauty of a pass from Evgeni Malkin to Hornqvist lead to their first goal and Jason Zucker made it 2-1 on the penalty that followed immediately.

The second period didn't start any better for the Habs. After Victor Mete joined the attack, the Pens came rushing to Price's net. The goaltender made the first save but no one was able to gather the rebound including Mete who fanned on it, allowing Blueger to make it 3-1 Pittsburgh. Overall, it was a hard night at the office for Mete who barely saw 10 minutes of action with his defensive partner Ouellet getting just over 12 minutes of ice-time. Finding himself down 3-1 Claude Julien decided it was time to shuffle the deck and put his trust in his youngsters. From then on, we saw the following lines more often than not:

Tatar-Suzuki-Gallagher
Drouin-Kotkaniemi-Armia
Lehkonen-Danault-Byron
Evans-Domi-Weise

Given the fact that the Habs usual first line had failed to ignite so far in this series, it was great to see Suzuki get his shot as 1st C and Danault finding himself in a more defensive role on the 3rd line. Julien also took full advantage of being the home team to get the match-ups he wanted and it really worked for him. Midway through the second frame, Shea Weber fed the puck to Chiarot who took a shot which Drouin deflected right in the net for his first goal of the series. Shortly after that, Jake Evans was crushed against the boards by Patrick Hornqvist and left the game. It took him some time to get back up and he clearly was shaken up... we'll see if he's able to return for Friday's game. The loss of Evans didn't rattle the Habs though as they kept on pressing. Suzuki took a shot off a Paul Byron pass and Murray sent to rebound straight to said Byron on the side of the net. He controlled the puck with this skate, put it on his stick, went around the net to push the puck behind the goaltender on his second attempt and bring Montreal back on level terms. Weber got a secondary assist on that one, giving him his 3rd point of the game. This was his first 3-point playoffs game and it came at a great time for the Habs.

The deadlock lasted until 5 minutes into the 3rd period when Jeff Petry scored a wonderful goal. The Canadiens power play had just expired and the Habs carried on with a passing play during which Petry went deep into the zone finding himself all alone by the goal line midway between the boards and the goal. He took his time, saw that there was no-one to pass to and decided to thread the needle himself, sending the puck in the back of the net right above Matt Murray's shoulder on the near post. This would turn out to be Petry's second game-winning goal of the series as the Canadiens hung in there and protected the tinniest of leads until the final whistle.



Just like that, the Canadiens now lead the series 2-1 and will have a chance to wrap things up in game 4 which will be played Friday at 4:00 PM eastern time. It wasn't a perfect game for the Habs, the penalty killing early on was nowhere near aggressive enough, the 3rd defensive pairing is still a concern and Gallagher is clearly battling an injury but, at the end of the day, the Habs won. What's even more important is that they won without Price having to stand on his head, he faced 30 shots and finished the game with .909 save-percentage. This one was a team win and not the Canadiens relying exclusively on their star netminder. Habs fans will have mixed feelings about the prospect of the Canadiens qualifying for the playoffs by dispatching the Pens. While playoffs action is always fun to watch, this team could use a solid infusion of talent and a 12.5% chance of drafting Lafrenière (or a 9th overall pick should the lottery not go their way) sounds much more beneficial than a short-lived playoffs run…

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