Carey Price led the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets last night, as the Habs finished off an impressive road trip with three straight wins.
The Canadiens entered Winnipeg having a 2-1-0 record on their road trip, and Price was coming off his best game of the year three nights earlier in Vancouver. Carey was even better against the Jets, stopping all 35 shots he faced, and posting his 20th career shutout. He has now stopped 74 of 75 shots in consecutive wins.
Brandon Prust opened the scoring just two minutes into the game, as a Daniel Briere shot ricocheted off the boards to Prust at the side of the net, and he banked it in off a sprawling Ondrej Pavelec. It was Briere’s second point of the season and first without just an empty net to beat. The goal was Prust’s second of the year, and both would ultimately be game winners.
P.K. Subban extended the lead to two with one of his patented one timed slap shots that flew past Pavelec midway through the first period. The goal was set up by a nice pass from David Desharnais, who finally found the score sheet for his first point in six games this season. Desharnais has become the whipping boy for the Habs fan base, but he played his best game of the year last night, finally got his first point, and can hopefully build on a strong performance when the team returns to Montreal.
Winnipeg took control of the game after Coach Claude Noel called a timeout following Subban’s goal, outshooting the Canadiens 28-15 over the final two periods, but Price made several great saves to grant the Habs two more points in the standings. Briere wrapped up the scoring when he scored into an empty net to make it 3-0 with just over one minute remaining. It was Daniel’s first goal in a Canadiens sweater, and his second point of the night.
The Canadiens suffered a potentially major blow as Max Pacioretty left the game in the first period with an apparent leg injury and did not return after being helped off the ice. Max led the team in points the past two seasons, and had three points in his first four games this season before leaving yesterday’s game early. A prolonged absence of Pacioretty could be a crushing blow to the Canadiens, who are already leaning too heavily on a small number of players for their scoring this season.
If Pacioretty is out, and we will not know his status until tomorrow, there is a long list of Habs forwards who will be looked at to bring their offensive level up a notch.
Desharnais is well known for his recent offensive struggles, and only has one point in six games, but is being paid like a second line center. Briere has three points this season, with two of them coming when the other team has no goaltender in the net. Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec have been offensive contributors for many years, but both only have one goal and one assist each thus far for the Canadiens.
Hopefully Pacioretty is not for long, as he is one of the Habs best and most dynamic forwards, and his size and skill would be difficult to replace in this lineup.
The win against the Jets was the 500th game of Josh Gorges career, and he extended his points streak to two, which is lengthy by his standards. Gionta suited up for his 700th game last night, as he returned to the team from tending to family matters in Montreal that caused him to miss the game in Vancouver.
The Canadiens take to the ice next Thursday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Center.