What happens when you score the first goal and don’t allow your opponent to score any? You end a four game losing streak. Carey Price made 36 saves and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
This may have been the best games the Canadiens had played in a while, getting offensive contributions from most lines and taking advantage of a tired Hurricanes team.
The best revelation of the night might have been Michael Bournival who replaced Lars Eller on the left wing of Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Bournival played his best game in months and created scoring chances and most importantly didn’t look out of place. It was the Bournival we saw at the beginning of the season. He was also the best possession forward on the night for the Canadiens at 5 on 5.
That freed up Eller to play center between Rene Bourque and Brandon Prust. Even beyond being on the ice for the first Canadiens goal, that line looked better than it has in a while even though Eller is making poor decisions with the puck. Prust scored on a nice passing play, and Bourque even created some scoring chances on his own.
That left Daniel Briere as the “10th forward” who was relegated to fourth line duty with George Parros and Travis Moen, even though Briere also got some power play time. In fact, only Parros had less even strength time than Briere. That fourth line was also the worst possession line on the team despite starting the most percentage of their shifts in the offensive zone.
Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin looked really good and despite starting over 70 per cent of their shifts in the defensive zone, were positive possession players on the night. If only there could be something done about Douglas Murray…
Carey Price was great, and the only difference between this game and the rest of the losing streak was that Price got some lucky bounces off the post and the Canadiens were able to give him a lead. Brandon Gallagher and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Habs.
Now, it’s important not to get too excited. The Hurricanes were in the second game of back to back games and playing their fifth game in seven nights. They weren’t exactly rested.
The Canadiens have the Boston Bruins next, and it will be interesting to see which Canadiens team shows up. They tend to show up for games against Boston, and tend to frustrate the Bruins as well. Either way, it should be a good barometer of where this team is coming off of their worst stretch of games over the last two seasons.