Carey Price kept the Montreal Canadiens alive long enough last night for the Habs offense to wake up in the third period, and the Canadiens came away with their second consecutive road victory, even though it was a pair of Vancouver Canucks defensemen who combined to score the game winning goal.
Max Pacioretty opened the scoring on the Canadiens first power playoff the game less than six minutes after opening puck drop. He was found in the slot by Francis Bouillon and one timed a shot that slipped through Roberto Luongo’s pads, and just over the line. It was a period dominated for long stretches by the Canucks, especially the line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and whoever else they threw out with the twins. Montreal was lucky to come away with the lead, as Price turned aside all twelve shots directed his way, including several great saves.
The Canucks were able to tie it late in the second period, as the Sedin twins relentless pressure was finally rewarded. Price made the initial save but Daniel picked up a rebound at the side of the net, and with both Habs defensemen sliding to try and block a shot, Daniel slid a pass to his brother who was left wide open in the slot, and had no trouble putting the puck in the back of a mostly vacant net.
Just three minutes later, Jarred Tinordi was in the box for interference and the Canucks appeared poised to score and take the lead. They scored, but it would be on the wrong net. Dan Hamhuis took the puck from Luongo after a long dump in by Lars Eller, and waited for the forwardsto set up a break out. As Jason Garrison skated by right in front of Hamhuis, Dan moved the puck and it landed right in Garrison’s feet. Jason would kick it right at Luongo who was just getting back into the crease. The puck bounced off both of Roberto’s skates before sliding just over the line. Eller was just finding a seat on the bench, but he has also just scored the game’s winning goal.
The lucky bounce seemed to give the Canadiens skaters a bit of life, as they were outshot 31-20 after forty minutes, and only in the game due to the spectacular play of Carey Price. In the final frame the Habs turned the tide, and attacked the Canucks, throwing 18 shots on net, compared to the nine shots Vancouver could muster.
Pacioretty would be awarded a penalty shot when he was hauled down after sneaking in behind the Canucks defenders. He would be stopped on the shot by Luongo, but the Canadiens kept pressing, and Tomas Plekanec scored his first goal of the season on a power play to make it 3-1 Canadiens. Josh Gorges wrapped up the scoring, with a long wirst shot that handcuffed the Canucks goaltender, and found its way to the back of the net.
It was a successful homecoming for a pair of Canadiens players from British Columbia. Price grew up in nearby Anaheim Lake, and had his best performance of the season, stopping 39 of 40 shots and being named the game’s first star. It was a huge statement game by Price, who is battling Luongo, among others, for a place on Team Canada’s roster in the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Josh Gorges is from Kelowna, British Columbia, and with several family members in attendance, scored just his fourteenth career goal in his 499th NHL game.
The Canadiens improve their record to 3-2-0 including 2-1-0 on their current four game road trip that wraps up in Winnipeg on Tuesday night.