It feels weird to say perhaps we should have given the Canadiens more credit. After all, they did take down a Stanley Cup favorite in the Maple Leafs in the First Round.
But while the spotlight was on Toronto’s failures, it was Montreal who moved on. Now, two games into the Second Round, and the Canadiens are halfway to the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals following their 1-0 Game 2 win over Winnipeg.
Carey Price made one final save with two seconds left on a Kyle Connor shot that would have tied the game and forced overtime. Instead, he preserved the shutout, and moved to second all-time in Canadiens playoff shutouts with eight in his career.
The Canadiens head home for the next two games in the series nursing that lead, bad news for a Jets squad that has played well at home all season.
Since storming back in the First Round series, the Canadiens have won five games in a row. The only team with more consecutive wins these playoffs is the Avalanche, who entered Friday night having won the first six games of their postseason.
Despite the tight score, Game 2 wasn’t very eventful. As could be expected with a goalie matchup like this, both goalies played well; Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves for the Jets opposite Price’s 31.
It’s different than the Habs’ previous postseason success; Montreal trailed 3-1 in the series against Toronto before winning three straight to take that series, including two in overtime.
The Canadiens have just simply been the better team this series, though, largely in part to the netminding from Price, a carryover from the Maple Leafs series, too. The Jets likely don’t expect to be on the losing end of the goaltending battle in many series when they have Hellebuyck, but that’s the kind of run Price is on right now.
Price stood on his head late in the game, coming up with a key stop on Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers with just under a minute to play.
The Jets outshot the Habs 31-24, including 13 shots in the final frame. Neal Pionk made a skate save on the empty net with 22 seconds left that would have sealed it for Montreal, giving the Jets one last opportunity, but it wasn’t enough time to solve Price and the Canadiens.
Now, the series shifts to Montreal, where fans will get to witness the Canadiens back on home ice for the first time since the Game 6 overtime win over the Maple Leafs in the First Round. Now, the circumstances have shifted; Montreal is in the driver’s seat, against a Jets team coming off a sweep of the higher-seeded Oilers last round.
Winnipeg, meanwhile, is still trying to adjust its offense without Mark Scheifele, out for four games counting Friday night for his hit on Jake Evans at the end of Game 1. Their first game without him didn’t generate any offense, though, perhaps this time is the time to give the Canadiens the credit.
JETS VS. CANADIENS (MTL leads 2-0) – series livestream link
Game 1: Canadiens 5, Jets 3
Game 2: Canadiens 1, Jets 0
Game 3: Sun. June 6: Jets at Canadiens, 6 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Mon. June 7: Jets at Canadiens, 8 p.m. ET (NHL Network)
*Game 5: Wed. June 9: Canadiens at Jets TBD
*Game 6: Fri. June 11: Jets at Canadiens TBD
*Game 7: Sun. June 13: Canadiens at Jets TBD