After an incredible start to the season, the Canadiens have cooled off a little bit, but they still own an impressive 16-6-2 record.
One of the reasons they’ve hit a rough patch, is because some of their top forwards can’t seem to find the back of the net.
Pacioretty hasn’t looked comfortable all season, and although he tends to be one of the streakier players in the league, he hasn’t put together many great performances in 2016-17 and it seems to be causing some friction in the room.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos is reporting that there’s some tension between Pacioretty and head coach Michel Therrien.
“There’s no indication that Pacioretty wants out of Montreal,” Kypreos said on Saturday. “But it’s clear from a few other teams that they want to watch this situation closely.
“Pacioretty is not being used like a four-time 30-goal scorer by the Montreal Canadiens. There seems to be some friction between Pacioretty and Therrien.”
In the past, Plekanec had been regarded as one of the best two-way players in the game. That’s no longer the case. His slump doesn’t just date back to the start of this year, it can be traced all the way back to 2015-16 (he has two goals in his last 31 games).
But getting back to Pacioretty, it’s interesting that the friction is caused by his utilization because he’s been getting plenty of ice time.
If you look at Montreal’s last 13 games, he’s played at least 18:22 in 10 of those contests. In two of his last four games, he’s played over 20 minutes.
Looking at the way the situation has unfolded from the start of the year, there’s a good chance he’s unhappy about being bounced around from center to center.
As I mentioned before, he’s played with Galchenyuk, Plekanec and he also had a stint with Phillip Danault.
Adding a second line center and another defenseman will be a priority for GM Marc Bergevin, but don’t expect him to sacrifice his captain to get a deal done.
Pacioretty still has two years left on a team-friendly contract that pays him $4.5 million per season.
But hey, the Canadiens have shocked us before.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Phil Kessel scored twice, including one of Pittsburgh’s four goals in the third, and the Penguins rallied to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-3 on Saturday night.
Nick Bonino, Justin Schultz and Matt Cullen also scored in the third, helping Pittsburgh win back-to-back games for the first time in a month. Marc-Andre Fleury had 28 saves in his second straight start.
Detroit had recorded at least a point in five straight games. Henrik Zetterberg scored his 314th career goal, matching Pavel Datsyuk for seventh in team history, and Dylan Larkin and Frans Nielsen got the other goals for the Red Wings.
Detroit goaltender Jared Coreau stopped 32 shots in his NHL debut. Coreau was poised early, making a sprawling save on Sidney Crosby in the first five minutes and later denying Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway, but he struggled in the third period.
Bonino’s goal was his second in as many games, and Schultz has two goals and four points in his last three. Malkin had two assists, extending his point streak to a season-high five straight games.
Bonino started the comeback with his third goal at 2:05 of the third. Schultz tied it at 3 at 6:28, beating Coreau with a shot from the point. Kessel then put Pittsburgh ahead to stay when he got a pass from Carl Hagelin and Coreau from the top of the crease.
Cullen was awarded his fifth goal when he was hauled down on his way to an empty net with 41 seconds remaining.
Forward Justin Abdelkader was placed on injured reserve Saturday morning after suffering a knee injury Thursday against Florida. He had four points in six games prior to his injury.
Pittsburgh is the healthiest it has been the entire season. The Penguins activated forward Chris Kunitz from injured reserve Saturday morning after he missed six games with a lower-body injury.
NOTES: Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall played in his 750th game. … Pittsburgh scratched Tom Kuhnhackl to make room for Kunitz in the lineup. Rookie Jake Guentzel also sat for a second straight game. … The Penguins honored the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cup-winning teams, as nearly 40 former players, coaches and team executives attended the morning skate and were recognized during an on-ice ceremony before the game.
Red Wings: Continue a three-game road trip Sunday at the New York Islanders.
Penguins: Complete a three-game homestand Monday against Ottawa.
PHOENIX (AP) Columbus pummeled Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots, Alexander Wennberg scored with 2:16 left in the third period and the Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday night.
Smith set a franchise record with 58 saves, but the Coyotes still lost their third straight.
Doan put Arizona ahead 2-1 at 11:04 of the second when he redirected Michael Stone‘s lobbed shot from just inside the blue line along the right boards.
Wennberg tied it at 2 by backhanding the puck between Smith’s pads off a pass from Brandon Saad.
The Blue Jackets needed only 13 seconds to take the lead in the first period. Jenner took a pass from Jack Johnson between the hashes and fired over Smith’s glove.
Smith made 47 saves between the two Columbus goals and 21 in the third period alone.
After failing to take advantage of a two-man advantage late in the first, the Coyotes evened the score on Vrbata’s rising shot off McElhinney’s blocker from the left faceoff circle for a power-play goal 63 seconds into the second period.
Smith helped preserve the lead with 5:30 left in the second, stopping Saad’s breakaway attempt with a sprawling pad save.
McElhinney finished with 32 saves.
It’s been one week since the shocking and controversial firing of Gerard Gallant. The decision made by the Florida Panthers continues to be a hot topic of debate.
Don Cherry weighed in on it Saturday. As you might expect, he wasn’t in favor of the decision. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that completely swung in favor of the hosts in the span of just 19 seconds.
On taking over from Gallant, interim coach Tom Rowe said, per the Sun Sentinel: “This isn’t a knock on Gerard, because he did a great job.
“I just thought some guys weren’t bringing it the way they’re capable of bringing it every single night. A little too much inconsistency. They’d come out one period and play great. Another period they just sit back a little bit too tentative.”
That second paragraph is interesting.
Against the Senators, the Panthers had a slow start, illustrated by their 19-second lapse leading to the Ottawa goals. The Panthers found their game in the second period but tested Mike Condon with only 24 shots on goal by the end of the night.
They also couldn’t capitalize on a five-on-three power play in the second period.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said Keith Yandle, per the Miami Herald. “They had a good start, and sometimes you have to weather the storm throughout courses of games, and they did a good job in the first 10 or 12 minutes. If you look at the second period we were better.”
There were anxious moments for the Panthers, as defenseman Aaron Ekblad took a puck to the face in the second period. He missed about two minutes of game time, but did require stitches, according to Rowe.