When the Montreal Canadiens failed to capitalize on three power play opportunities in the second period against the Carolina Hurricanes, they could have just turtled and surrendered; but they did not. With the anemic production of the Habs power play unit this season, the Bell Centre has flip-flopped to home ice disadvantage for Les Habitants.
As their nickname would indicate, the Hurricanes are a team which, in the words of Canadian songwriter Neil Young, come on like a hurricane as the game progresses. After two scoreless periods where the Canes would only manage ten shots, Carolina was more in a tropical depression mode than a hurricane mode. Habs backup netminder Peter Budaj was on his way to shutting out Carolina for the first time this season.
For the Habs, of note during the first period was the urban warfare displayed by defenseman P.K. Subban during two fierce checks. Montreal certainly needs to see more of Subban’s headhunting wildman style and less of the submissive and restrained version. Even if Subban spends a few more minutes in the box, it will be time well spent if he is able to deliver an aggressive message in the Habs zone.
At 2:06 of the third, it was the Canadiens who would gather intensity on a goal by Brandon Prust, which would break the ice in the scoreless game. The tally was set up skillfully by Alex Galchenyuk on a three on three break. Suddenly, it was the Canadiens who were looking to finish strong; something which they have rarely done this season.
The Habs surge would continue as Tomas Plekanec would laser the puck from the left circle up top into the net off Cam Ward’s upper body on a feed from Max Pacioretty. The goal by Plekanec would visibly shake Ward, as evidenced by a subsequent shot he would face.
Shortly thereafter, Ward would allow Pacioretty’s first goal of the season to bounce by him on a knuckleball from beyond the blue yonder. The floodgates had been opened against Ward and the Hurricanes. The Canadiens had a three goal lead to preserve in front of their backup goalie with a little over seven minutes remaining in the third period.
Unlike in Tampa the previous week, Montreal had weathered the storm and preserved the three goal lead and shutout for Budaj. The Habs shoot down to Manhattan for a matchup against the New York Rangers Tuesday evening.