For three straight games, Ottawa has taken a 1-0 lead over Montreal. The Senators couldn’t capitalize on that edge in the first two contests of this first round series though. For a while it looked like Game 3 might be different and while the Senators still have a chance, this one will have to be settled in overtime.
In the midst of a scramble in front of the Senators’ net, Brandon Prust successfully knocked the puck to a wide open Dale Weise, which resulted in Senators goaltender Craig Anderson being in a bad position for the shot:
Anderson, who last played on March 29 and hasn’t won since March 8, has been very effective in this contest. Through 60 minutes he’s turned aside 39 of 40 shots. However, Ottawa hasn’t been able to take full advantage of his stellar play thus far.
The Senators are already down 2-0 in this series, so the stakes are high for them going into overtime.
Pacioretty, dealing with an upper-body injury suffered in Montreal’s third-last game of the season against Florida, was officially ruled out this morning, but could return for Game 2 on Friday night — that said, Habs head coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t commit to any potential comeback date.
“As I said, we’ll use him when he’s 100 per cent,” Therrien said, per the CP. “It’s not tonight obviously.
“It could be Friday, it could be Sunday. Once we get the okay from our medical team, we’ll be very glad to get him back in the lineup.”
With Pacioretty out, here’s what Montreal’s line rushes looked like this morning:
When you look back at January, and really the 2014-15 season so far, things are going really well for the Montreal Canadiens.
The good news
Carey Price is generating buzz for a Hart Trophy win, not just a Vezina. Max Pacioretty keeps firing shots on goal, quite a few of which are winning games. Young players such as Alex Galchenyuk are already growing into legit everyday players while veterans including Andrei Markov show that they have something left in the tank.
It doesn’t hurt that Montreal is in a strong position to win the Atlantic Division, as they are in the thick of things and have certain advantages (such as two games in hand on Tampa Bay, which holds a slim one-point lead for the top spot).
If you look at their run since mid-December, business is seemingly booming; they are 15-4-1 since Dec. 9.
The very thing that’s been going right – brilliant goaltending from Price, timely scoring from the likes of Pacioretty – might just camouflage the notion that the Habs have also been getting lucky. Their PDO – a measure of save and shooting percentage that is a decent rule of thumb for a team’s good fortune – is the second highest in the NHL. While Price certainly has the talent to inflate that number from a save-percentage standpoint, it’s still noteworthy that Montreal is getting bounces now that might not come later.
(Montreal has a 63.6 winning percentage in one-goal games, tying them with Tampa Bay for the fifth-highest mark in that regard).
Reasons for hope
While certain stats point to what could be a scary plummet, there are some reasons to believe that the Habs might be less prone to free-falling than, say, last season’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
For one thing, they have an elite defenseman in P.K. Subban and one of the best goalies in the world in Price. There’s also a reasonable amount of forward depth to play better possession hockey.
Head coach Michel Therrien might just be the make-or-break factor in that regard, really.
As you can see here and here, Therrien has a tendency to flip-flop from doing the sort of things that make the stats community cringe (like arguably miscasting Dale Weise in a top-line role) and putting the Habs in a better position to succeed (such as opening things up during chunks of playoff time).
This isn’t to say that Therrien can just flip a switch and Montreal will become an elite possession team, yet perhaps tweaks can be made to avoid serious slippage.
There are some signs that the Canadiens might be playing with fire if they don’t improve in certain areas, yet there’s also the argument that their style is sustainable. Do you think Montreal is a genuine contender as constituted? If not, what do they need to do to make that happen?
In a tight, tense contest, it ultimately came down to Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist. The Montreal Canadiens ultimately got the last laugh by beating the New York Rangers 1-0 on Thursday night.
A controversial goal review ended up being something of an afterthought (except for Dale Weise) as Price turned aside all 23 shots for his 28th career shutout. The Rangers had won 10 of 15 against the Canadiens at Madison Square Garden, but Montreal came out on top tonight.
Lundqvist was almost as sharp as Price in net, although he’d probably want to have Max Pacioretty’s game-winning goal back:
Lundqvist: "I was doing a lot of good things … but I won't remember the 1st, 2nd or 3rd period. I'll remember the last 4 minutes. (cont'd)
At 18:38 of the first period in the Montreal Canadiens/New York Rangers game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine Dale Weise’s shot at 18:02. Video review was inconclusive in determining whether the puck completely crossed the goal line. Therefore the referee’s call on the ice stands – no goal Montreal.
This freeze frame certainly makes it seem like a close call:
However the Habs might feel, the game is still 0-0 as we speak.