The Montreal Canadiens took a trip down south this week to faceoff against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. And they got back on the winning track, beat the Lightning 4-3 in a shootout and the Panthers 1-0 in overtime. After losing badly to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, a trip to warmer weather proved to be just what the Habs needed to get back on track.
The trip began on Tuesday in Tampa and Montreal blew another third period lead before getting the win in a shootout. The game started off evenly, with Brian Gionta scoring a powerplay goal in the first.
They continued this play in the second too, adding two more goals from PK Subban and Travis Moen and things were looking good for the Habs. But like in past games, the third period lead was not safe.
Defensive breakdown and late penalties allowed Tampa to get all the way back to tie the game and send it to overtime.
“We had a good two periods,” said Gionta. “Then we sat back in the third and they got themselves back into it.”
David Desharnais eventually scored the only goal in the shootout to save the game for Montreal. It was a close call, but they broke their three game losing streak and walked away with two points.
“At the end of the day, as long as we’re getting wins, that’s what really matters,” said Carey Price, who made 21 saves in the win. “But, it would be nice to close out one, that’s for sure.”
“You know what? We came to win this hockey game, and this is what we did,’ ‘added Habs Coach Michel Therrien. “We were almost perfect for 54 minutes, We opened the door. We will learn from it.”
After the close game, Montreal traveled across the state to take on the Florida Panthers on Thursday. The took on a team backstopped by former Hab goalie Jose Theodore. This became a Theodore and Price battle, with neither team scoring in regulation.
“The guys played very well in front of me,” said Price, who made 26 saves for his first shutout of the year. “We limited their scoring chances all game. They only got a couple of really good quality chances all game. That speaks of the work ethic of the guys in front of me.”
Once the game got to overtime, Montreal finally beat the Theodore wall. Rene Bourque batted the puck in after a well-timed pass from the kid, Alex Galchenyuk.
“I entered the zone and I saw that [Bourque] was driving to the net very hard,” said Galchenyuk. “I was trying to get it to him all the time. The puck was bouncing, somehow I got it to him. He made an unbelievable play; his coordination was good.”
“It was a huge game for us.”
Therrien said that he wanted to see Galchenyuk play in overtime and that hunch paid off. The assist broke the 19-year-old’s five game pointless streak and he now has one goal and seven assists in 12 games.
“That’s part of the growth process, to learn to play 4-on-4 in overtime,” Therrien said. “You have to make good decisions with the puck and he definitely learned well.”
The Habs return home on Saturday, Feb. 16 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Quotes from CBC.ca and NHL.com.