Canadiens Improve Draft Lottery Odds In 3-1 Loss To Devils
The Montreal Canadiens saw their losing streak extended to six games, as the potent New Jersey Devils dominated time in the offensive zone from start to finish in this game.
After allowing two goals in the first period to Nathan Bastian and Nico Hischier, with Hischier’s goal coming in the final minute of the frame, it seemed like the Canadiens were in for a long night.
However, the Habs once again showed a strong competitive edge against one of the top teams in the league, keeping pace and battling back to get themselves within a goal of an equalizer.
A timely goal from newly acquired Denis Gurianov helped get the Canadiens within a goal of the Devils, off a blistering one-timer that beat Akira Schmid cleanly on the glove side.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the second goal to tie the game; and Tomas Tatar eventually sealed the deal with an empty net goal to give the Devils the 3-1 win.
The Canadiens were once again backstopped by a stellar Jake Allen who pushed back 34 of 36 shots, keeping the Canadiens in the game, especially in the second period, after the Devils’ took over the game in the middle frame.
Your pre-game analysis below:
Seizing The Opportunity
After being acquired from the Dallas Stars a few days prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, Denis Gurianov knew he was going to have to prove himself to earn another contract.
After a couple of rough games upon the Canadiens’ return from their western road trip, he seems to be finding his rhythm with Montreal as of late.
The 25-year-old winger was dropped down to the third line and it seems to have jolted him; as he has been playing with much more speed and conviction.
From his first shift tonight, the Russian sniper looked engaged and was making smart plays in the offensive zone, coming close to connecting with his teammates on a few occasions.
The Canadiens want Gurianov to continue generating scoring opportunities, and that’s exactly what he did for them tonight.
After Rem Pitlick brilliantly extracted the puck from the corner in the Devils’ zone, he quickly found a well-positioned Gurianov, who wired home a one-timer with exceptional authority.
With another 15 games left to go this season, Gurianov will need to continue proving he can be a piece of the puzzle moving forward; and it’s with games like these that he’ll achieve said goal.
The ball, rather the puck, is in his court.
Denis the Menace#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/z0cfAeSMAm
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) March 12, 2023
New Kids On The Block
Jake Allen may have had to face 36 shots tonight, but his teammates blocked a ton as well.
It’s been an interesting new facet of the Montreal Canadiens’ defensive structure since the turn of the new year, where they collapse into shooting lanes and take away prime scoring chances from the opposition.
The Canadiens’ skaters were able to block an impressive 25 shots in the game, stopping over 42% of the Devils’ clean shot attempts toward Allen.
And it was a total team effort, too.
More than ten different players registered a blocked shot, with Mike Matheson (4), Josh Anderson (3) and Joel Edmundson (3) leading the way.
It’s contributed to much tighter games and displays a true buy-in mentality to the type of hockey head coach Martin St-Louis wants to implant on this team moving forward.
Fraternizing With The Enemy
Dawson Mercer has been on one of the more remarkable point streaks of the season this year.
The 21-year-old sophomore registered 11 goals and eight assists for 19 points over his previous 11 games. Mercer extended his streak tonight with an assist on Nico Hischier’s goal, thereby extending his point streak to 12 games and breaking the Devils’ franchise record.
He now has the longest point streak for a Devils player aged 22 and under, a record that Brendan Shanahan previously set in 1990.
A little Montreal pinball. pic.twitter.com/8Q1sMFi2OS
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 12, 2023