Whitby - Oct. 27, 2011 - The Montreal Canadiens organization had been on a mission since approximately the six o’clock hour on Wednesday afternoon. Habs’ General Manager Pierre Gauthier wanted to shake things up tonight. Over the supper hour, he fired Habs’ Assistant Coach Perry Pearn just before the Philadelphia-Montreal matchup. The Montreal Canadiens active roster wanted to silence their critics. The Habs collectively had a big effort tonight as they soundly defeated the Flyers 5-1 with authority in front of a sold out (21,273) Bell Centre crowd.
Carey Price earned his 100th career win and is the second youngest goaltender at the age of 24 (plus 71 days) to reach this achievement. Price is second only to Tom Barrasso who managed to reach the 100 career win mark at the age of 23.
Max Pacioretty, who was a game-time decision, did not look any worse-for-wear as he provided the majority of the offense for the Canadiens in the game. Pacioretty scored two goals, tallied three points, fired three shots and ended the game as a plus+3.
Goal scorers for the Canadiens were Pacioretty, Yannick Weber, Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri. Jaromir Jagr provided the Flyers’ lone goal.
With tonight’s victory, the Canadiens earned their first home win of the season. Their record now stands at 2-5-2 and have jumped to 14th overall in the Eastern Conference - don’t start the Stanley Cup victory parade just yet mind you.
It wasn’t all sunshine and lollipops for the Habs in tonight’s contest. The Habs were listless in the opening frame. The Flyers owned the first period and it showed. The Habs played 14:15 of the first period with no shots on Flyers’ netminder Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Habs were fortunate to score on a Yannick Weber power play marker with three seconds left in the opening frame that sent both teams to their respective dressing rooms deadlocked at one.
The second period was a different story for Les Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. The team collectively started skating. It was day and night when you look at the first period compared to the final 30 minutes of the contest. A Habs’ fan could not have been prouder in the last half of the game.
The ‘TSN turning point’ had to be in the early minutes of the third period when Philadelphia’s James VanRiemsdyk skated in all alone, fired a bullet towards Price to which Price coldly turned aside the shot. The play then went up the ice into the Flyers’ zone and at the 3:16 minute mark, Pacioretty would score his second goal of the game sliding the puck through a scrum in front of the crease by a down-and-out Bryzgalov.
Montreal would not look back after this point. The Flyers were owned by the Canadiens in the final period. Philadelphia was definitely a different looking team tonight without their captain, Chris Pronger. Philadelphia lost way too many faceoffs throughout the game. For the first 45 minutes in the game, the Flyers had won only 39% of the faceoffs. The Flyers did manage to turn things around and ended up winning 53% of the total faceoffs in the contest.
The announced three stars on the evening were slanted heavily in favour of the Canadiens. Erik Cole played his best game to date as a Hab (3rd star, one assist, 4:22 power play time), Carey Price (2nd star, 100th career win, 21-of-22 saves, .955 save percentage) and Max Pacioretty (1st star, three points).
The Canadiens now take their one game of improved play to Boston on Thursday night for a two-game affair against their division rivals. Thursday night’s contest will also mark the first time Pacioretty will face Boston’s Zdeno Chara since the ‘hit’ last season.
For the game boxscore and individual Canadiens’ stats, please click the NHL.com link at the bottom of this article.
View from the Whitby Cheap Seats
Let us not get too ahead of ourselves. Yes, tonight’s performance was impressive and deserving because of the total team effort. The Bell Centre crowd was even heard chanting “Hey Hey Goodbye” at the 17:00 minute mark of the third period.
Before I become a believer that the Montreal ‘funk’ is over, the Habs need to show up on Thursday night in Boston and play exactly as they did earlier tonight. The Canadiens uncharacteristically had ‘pushback’ tonight and never backed down from any Philadelphia physicality.
Sean Mecteau, one of OurHometown readers, was in attendance at the game. When asked for his first period analysis of the Canadiens’ performance, Mecteau could only say that “the hotdogs are pretty good”. Translated in layman’s terms, pretty sad performance by Les Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.
Similarly, Habs’ captain Brian Gionta was interviewed by TSN in the first intermission and admitted that “the team got away from our game…were scrambling…it wasn’t the start we wanted…we needed support”.
Mecteau was interviewed by yours truly at the end of the second period and he mentioned “much better period. Canadiens started skating. See what happens when Cole gets some ice.”
In the third period, Philadelphia kept giving away the puck repeatedly, giving Montreal too many chances. Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t have his best game.
Max Pacioretty was interviewed after the game and admitted “we had to do something to get out of that funk”. Boy, did Pacioretty ever do something!
On the sudden Perry Pearn firing, Carey Price admitted “…pretty shocking…always tough to lose someone in the organization…we grew close to him”.
Game Stats Review
Erik Cole had six shots on goal and his relentless play was impressive.
Jaroslav Spacek had five blocked shots in the game.
Montreal outshot Philadelphia 28-22 in shots.
Montreal was 1-for-5 on the power play while Philadelphia was 0-for-4.
Montreal out-hit Philadelphia 24 to 16.
P.K. Subban led the Canadiens with 23:41 of icetime, registered one assist, was a plus+2 and had three shots on goal.
Recent call up, winger Michael Blunden delivered five hits in only 6:25 minutes of icetime.
Philadelphia won 53% of the faceoffs. Montreal’s centremen performed as follows:
David Desharnais was 9-for-17 (.529 winning faceoff percentage)
Lars Eller was 4-for-11 (.364)
Petteri Nokelainen was 2-for-5 (.400)
Tomas Plekanec was 10-for-18 (.556)
Montreal scratches for the game were Alexei Emelin and Aaron Palushaj.
Until next time, play every game like as if it is your last one…