Habs Shine Bright Like Diamonds In 1st Season Game


The Montreal Canadiens started the 2015-16 season off to a positive start, with a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

Captain Max Pacioretty put the Habs on the right path 3 minutes and 9 seconds into the first period. Number 67 buried the puck off a stretch from P.K. Subban, brightening the play on his 400th NHL career game after the troops had a bit of a slow start.

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The team announced on July 7th that Pacioretty was out for 12 weeks with a injured knee, due to an off-ice workout. Tonight’s season opener was a few days past the 12-week timetable, but he got back into shape and started training again during the end of the summer and made it in time for his first (the Habs’ last) pre-season game against the Ottawa Senators. Pacioretty ended last season with 37 goals and 30 assists.

Subban, who assisted Pacioretty’s goal, was named 1 of the 4 alternate captains on September 10th with Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, and Brendan Gallagher being the other 3. He collected 60 points in 82 games during the 2014-15 season.

Nazem Kadri‘s cross-check on Alexei Emelin‘s face gave the Habs a late period powerplay with a little over 7 minutes left. However, the Habs struggled to generate points and showed a repeat of last year’s PP struggles. The first period ended with the Habs taking the lead, but 11-7 shots in favor of the Leafs.

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  • While James Van Riemsdyk tied the game 51 seconds into the 2nd period on the Leafs’ first PP, Jeff Petry gave the Habs their lead back 5 minutes later. The only problem was that the first Coach’s Challenge of the season from Mike Babcock prevented the goal from being counted, as Plekanec’s stick interfered with goaltender Jonathan Bernier before the goal was made.

    The Habs were able to generate an okay defensive play during the Leafs’ 2nd PP, but the strength came in strong from Carey Price as he shut down any chances Toronto had at the net. Throughout the middle of the period, Montreal started to show controlled play and pressure while testing Bernier. This came to end near the last 5 minutes as the team started to use last year’s “rely on Price” method. Unable to break through Toronto’s strong defensive play, the scoreboard stayed at 1-1.

    Oct 7, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Peter Holland (24) watches his shot on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) just miss the net during the second period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Both teams played tightly in the 3rd, with the Habs starting to create more scoring chances a little over halfway through the period. After a few good scoring opportunities and the struggle to keep the puck out of their zone, the Habs took their lead back 12 minutes in thanks to an Alex Galchenyuk shot off a bad rebound from the Leafs. The rest of the period had the Leafs working towards keeping the puck in the Montreal zone while trying taking advantage of shots. With a little over 5 minutes left, Toronto got another chance to put the rivals at a tie again on the PP. However, with Habs were able to kill off the power play well. The last few minutes became a bit slugglish with Price once again bailing the boys out, but Pacioretty was able to breakaway and create a 3-1 lead thanks to an empty net and 30 seconds on the clock. The game ended with Montreal winning their first game of the season.

    Price stopped 36 of the 37 shots against him, which isn’t a surprise when you have a Vezina, Hart, Ted Lindsay, and William M. Jennings trophy winner sitting between the pipes. He also had 44 wins and 1823 saves during the 2014-15 season and is the key element to most of Montreal’s win streaks. Surprisingly, David Desharnais lead the Habs’ forwards in even strength ice time and seemed to be adjust well to the 3rd line usage. Galchenyuk also had a great night as a centre, being 7-for-10 on faceoffs (highest percentage on the Habs). The icing on the cake, however, was captain Pacioretty’s first two goals of the season in his 400th NHL career game. While the last goal was on an empty net, it was still great to see “Wolverine” back in action after being told in the beginning that there would be a chance he may not have been able to play his 1st season game.

    Overall, it wasn’t the worst regular season opener the Habs have had. The only issues were going back to relying on Price quite a few times as well as returning to dump and chase. I may have yelled at my television quite a lot, but the Habs won so everything is well in the world.

    What did you think of the regular season opener overall? Who did you feel made a positive impact on the game? Which players seemed absent throughout every period? Did you too need Advil after seeing Therrien’s methods coming into play again? Let us know in the comments below!

    Next: Montreal Canadiens: Are Therriens' Lines Set?

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