Belzile And Pezzetta Shine for Canadiens in Loss to Hurricanes
The Canadiens hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, looking to earn a rare win that would snap their three-game losing streak.
The matchup also marked the return of former Hab Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who has enjoyed mixed results since signing an offer sheet and joining the Hurricanes two seasons ago.
The Canadiens got off to a great start, powered by their fourth line, which continues to lead the way when it comes to giving an honest effort.
Jake Allen (almost) played the hero for the Canadiens despite allowing three goals in regulation, making 37 stops in the loss, including nine high-danger, saves, but it was not enough, as the Canadiens eventually lost 4-3 in the shootout on a goal from the aforementioned Kotkaniemi.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi wins it for Carolina in the shootout, in Montreal.
Storybook stuff. pic.twitter.com/LSzGKPG4oO
— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) March 8, 2023
Much has been made about Alex Belzile’s journey to the NHL, and with good reason.
The mere fact that he made his way to the NHL from suffering a brutal concussion in the AHL, only to become a healthy scratch in the ECHL, is worth celebrating.
But he’s not just an encouraging story for all the players out there that may lose hope in their hockey aspirations, he’s also been a fantastic addition to the Canadiens roster, seeing as he leads the team in points per 60 this season.
He scored his third career goal on Tuesday night, taking advantage of a rebound following a smart play by Michael Pezzetta, who has also impressed in the second half of the season.
The goal puts Belzile’s season totals at 8 points in 18 games, which is relatively impressive given he receives minimal minutes on the fourth line. Belzile hasn’t treaded water since his call-up, he’s earned serious consideration when it comes to his place in the lineup going forward.
This is just some fantastic work by Michael Pezzetta, finished off in front by Alex Belzile.
1-0 #Habs pic.twitter.com/fAoLFmLDGg
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) March 8, 2023
This may come as a shock, but Jonathan Drouin has been the Canadiens’ most productive player on the active roster since Jan.1, and he continued his scoring ways on Tuesday with a great assist that led to an easy goal for Mike Hoffman.
Every time Drouin does something good, which is often these days, there always seems to be some sort of contrived reaction from those who have attacked his work ethic and talent relentlessly since he arrived in Montreal.
He’s likely playing his last stretch of hockey in Montreal, and it would be nice if the people who voluntarily bathe in a sea of manufactured negativity every day could lay off for a moment.
Let’s just take a deep breath and accept that he’s playing his best hockey in years, and it’s a joy to watch.
As an aside, the oft-maligned forward is on pace for a 32-point season, which is pro-rated to 44 points in an 82-game schedule. Not bad considering he’s rarely featured in the top six and plays on a bottom-dwelling team.
Jonathan Drouin with a great assist as Mike Hoffman makes it a two-goal first period for the Habs pic.twitter.com/hfaeDXzY5d
— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 8, 2023
No.55 added to the fun later in the second period, scoring his fifth goal of the season, a goal that was assisted by none other than Bezile, who now has 9 points since joining the Canadiens.
The goal itself was a great combination of skill and effort, but most notably, it also included a hit by Pezzetta on Kotkaniemi, which broke the former Hab’s stick.
While Kotkaniemi returned to the bench to fetch a new stick, Pezzetta scored the goal.
Not only did he finish the play, but he also created his own time and space with perfectly-timed physical play.
Pezzetta’s goal tonight, sponsor him @HeadandShoulder pic.twitter.com/23DAGNwqV4
— Habs Fan TV (@habsfantv_) March 8, 2023
The Canadiens are back in action on Thursday, hosting the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre. The puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET.
All statistics are 5v5 unless otherwise noted, via NaturalStatTrick.
Allen’s name deserves to be in the title too. That was a heck of a game he played, even if he ends up swimming on his stomach way more than he should be. The only blame he should receive is for earning us more points in the standings than we need in the battle for Bedard. A regulation loss would have had us one Coyotes win away from the bottom 5 points-wise.
I was proud of the players last night . The first game back after a western road trip is going to be tough anyway . Their third game in four nights (playing in Vegas Monday ) , they put up a heck of a fight against a very good Carolina team .