Montreal Canadiens Chase Carter Hart in Decisive Game 2 Win

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 14: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 14: Jesperi Kotkaniemi #15 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens dominated the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs, going as far as the Philadelphia Flyers making a goaltending change late in the second period with Carter Hart leaving the game.

Many were curious as to how the Montreal Canadiens players would react to the news surrounding Claude Julien’s admittance to the hospital on Wednesday, leading to the coach being out for the remainder of the series/playoffs. In his absence, Kirk Muller would take the helm of interim head coach. It is safe to say the team stood tall in an emotional win for their head coach.

The Montreal Canadiens Show

It didn’t take long for the Montreal Canadiens with Tomas Tatar‘s first goal of the playoffs. Brendan Gallagher and Nick Suzuki assisted on the play.

The Montreal Canadiens continued their dominance in the 20 minutes, adding a second goal to their lead from Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Jonathan Drouin assisted alongside Max Domi, who the team has been looking to get more involved.

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi drew a questionable penalty to give his team the power play going into the second period. The frustration from Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault as understandable given how Max Domi went down in front of Shayne Gostibehere.

Philadelphia Flyers Try to Bounce Back, But Price and Canadiens Stand Tall

Tomas Tatar capitalized on the Canadiens power play that carried over from the first period with his second goal of the game. Victor Mete assisted while Max Domi also got his second point of the game.

A lack of discipline led to a 5-on-3 power play for Philadelphia for nearly two minutes. Carey Price had managed to shut them down for the bulk of it while the penalty-killing unit began to show exasperation. This was a big kill for the Canadiens as they managed to keep the Flyers out of the game for a little while longer.

By the fourth goal, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott came in relief for the 22-year Carter Hart, whose visible frustration was noticed as he furiously went off the ice.

After crashing the net, Max Domi took a goaltender interference penalty for the Canadiens to stave off that carry over into the third period.

Sealing the Deal (credit to Patrick Tallon for statistics)

Jesperi Kotkaniemi continued his dominant play well into the third period, scoring the lone goal as the Montreal Canadiens went up 5-0. Victor Mete and Max Domi added to their total assists. This was Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s fourth goal of the playoffs in what has been some of his best hockey to date. His underlying stats also support this claim.

By the conclusion of the second period, Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s Corsi was a more than impressive 84.62% (11CF, 2CA). While the overall dropped by the game’s completion, as expected, it was still an exceptional 57.14% (12CF, 9CA). Lastly, his xGF% (expected goals) landed at 75.80.

The second line of Max Domi, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jonathan Drouin, were the Canadiens’ most lethal line and one that should stick for the remainder of the series, barring any changes in performance.

TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 14: Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Carter Hart (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 14: Jesperi Kotkaniemi Montreal Carter Hart (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Final Score: Montreal Canadiens (5) – Philadelphia Flyers (0)

Looking Ahead

I wrote in my analysis of Game 1 that there were still Canadiens players the team would rely on heavily as the games progressed. Max Domi delivered with some energizing play on the second line, but another such player was Tomas Tatar. After staying quiet in the first five games of the post-season, Tatar played his best game, notching two goals and carrying his line in the first two periods of play. Brendan Gallagher remains in the players I mentioned, but with over 20 shots, one would think he will be due soon enough.

The Montreal Canadiens played a complete game against the Philadelphia Flyers. They scored frequently, were strong the puck defensively, and Carey Price continued his brilliant play since their first game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It is no secret that the players may have made Kirk Muller’s transition to head coach easier due to their quality play through 60 minutes, but it is not far-fetched to say Muller played an important role nonetheless.

In his first game as interim head coach, Kirk Muller made the lone lineup change in replacing Dale Weise with Jake Evans, adding further speed to the Montreal Canadiens lineup, an aspect of their game the Philadelphia Flyers were unable to solve in Game 2.

On another note, Muller was responsive throughout the game as every time it looked as if the team was losing momentum, a lineup change was made to bring energy back into their game. One such example is in the third period during a Montreal Canadiens powerplay that saw the team significantly slowed. When this occurred, Kirk Muller opted to place Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the ice, instantly leading to the Habs’ fifth and final goal.

Slow powerplay aside, one aspect of the Montreal Canadiens that will need to change moving forward is their lack of discipline. After a blowout, it should be expected that the Philadelphia Flyers will come firing out of the gates in their next game, demonstrating why they earned the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. An undisciplined Canadiens team may be unable to sustain said pressure.

Next. Max Domi needs the promotion. dark

Game 3 of the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers series will be on Sunday, August 16th, at 8:00pm ET. The game can be viewed at NBCSN, Sportsnet East and can also be heard on TSN690.