If I would have told you that in the last four games Montreal was 1-18 on the Power Play and was averaging under three goals a game in that stretch you might not want to hear the final scores of the last few games. However their defense has been on an absolute rampage, allowing just four goals in the last four games, including two shutouts, and last night was one of those as they blanked Carolina 3-0 in the Bell Centre. And when I say rampage I mean it, they’ve only allowed 19 shots in both of the last two games, and the Canes could only muster five of those inside the scoring zone towards the goal mouth. I’ve said all year this team can absolutely shut down the middle of the ice defensively when they’re on, and after shaking off that weird stretch against Buffalo and Toronto where they got torched, the last four games have been a clinic.
The scoring itself was non existent until the 3rd period when Lars Eller fed Alex Galchenyuk who would then split the D before dishing it right back to Brandon Prust who finished it home in the bottom left corner to take a 1-0 lead. 10 minutes later, midway through the period, Max Pacioretty passed it left to Tomas Plekanec who just wound from outside the faceoff circle to the right of Cam Ward and fired it, bouncing off of his left shoulder and fluttering into the net. The next goal is when things got weird, as just 20 seconds later, Pacioretty on a clearing attempt down the ice some how scored from 112 feet away as it took a funny hop past Ward, extending the lead to three goals. From there on Montreal would easily coast to a 3-0 shutout win, extending their record to 10-4-1 and now 1st place in the Northeast division at 21 points.
Talk about the hockey gods being on your side, Max Pacioretty finally got on the goal sheet this season with that knuckleball like shot. He still has put up a respectable 10 points however as he has nine assists this season.
Budaj finally with a tremendous performance! I know I’ve dogged the guy all season but last night he finally looked good, getting a terrific shutout against the #7 scoring team in hockey ,the Hurricanes. However a lot has to be said about that defensive performance, to only allow 5 shots up close in the scoring zone is unreal against a real NHL offense. I’d be shocked to see that kind of domination against an ECHL team even
Hopefully Brendan Gallagher is back in action after suffering a concussion. I really would like to see him move up to the 2nd line when healthy, and move David Desharnais down. I understand that the plus/minus stat can be overrated at times, but Gallagher is a +7 while David is a -4. That’s an 11 goal improvement with him on the ice or about a goal a game! DD just isn’t showing me what he needs to in order to prove he’s a top 6 forward
Shot chart for the game…