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Game 31: Canadiens vs Penguins AKA An Irresistible Second Period

December 10, 2019, 10:28 PM ET [378 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Habs looked out of sync and rusty for the first 20 minutes which the Penguins dominated putting 10 shots on net and controlling the play even opening the score quite early at 2:59 through yet another odd man rush. Price stepped up and stopped another one and made us all wonder if the bad defensive was going to be back tonight but in the end, it wasn't. Somehow, it's a Penguins power play that made the table turns. For all the times the Canadiens' power play was unsuccessful and killed their momentum, it was nice for once to see it happen to their opponent. Especially since the penalty was a face-off violation one against Max Domi who was short changed on what should have been a tripping call on him seconds before.

The Habs came out strong and caught up to the Penguins shots wise early in the second but it was on the power play that they were able to level the score thanks to a wonderful Danault play. As the Pens had taken the puck back in their own zone, Danault picked their pocket before feeding the puck up ahead to his wingers who were pretty much in all alone against Tristan Jarry. Not only did that tie the game but it also ended the longest shutout streak in the Pens' history which allowed their back-up to take his place in their record book (177 minutes).

4 minutes later, Joel Armia scored his 11th of the year (now 2 goals short of his career best which he got in 57 games last season) to put the Habs ahead for the first time. Finally, with less than a minute to go in the 2nd period, Shea Weber flew up the ice and served a great wrap around to Jarry to make it 3-1 much to everybody's surprised.

As for the 3rd period, it belonged to Pittsburgh, they really did try to come back putting 13 shots on Price's net while the Canadiens only had 4. The Habs' goaltender was on tonight though and he made some big saves to ensure that his team could hang on and with less than 2 minutes to go, Brendan Gallagher sealed the deal with an empty-net goal that made it 4-1. While empty netters are usually pieces of cake, Gallagher really had to dig deep to get this one and it was just about the most Gally thing ever.

Plenty of positives to take away from this game:

Price made some big saves tonight, ensuring that the gap was only 1 after the first and holding the fort in the 3rd. In 4 games in December, his save percentage is .940 and a 1.76 GAA and I dare say he's looking like himself again. Will he be back in the net tomorrow as the Canadiens need points desperately or will Julien give Cayden Primeau a second game? We should know about 5 pm tomorrow.

The Canadiens dished out 67 hits tonight, that is a record so far this season. It did look like the NHL was generous when counting them tonight but it does show a great intensity level. Weber and Petry both had 8 hits while Leskinen had 5 in just 12 minutes of ice time.

In what was a tough night for the Habs in the face-off circle, Nick Suzuki had a 57% winning percentage and was the best Habs forward in that department. He also created some chances out there and made a rather important play defensively. This kid just keeps on improving and as they said on RDS, he's kind of overtaking Jesperi Kotkaniemi right now.

The first line is just lit right now. Both Danault and Gallagher have had points in their last 4 games and in Gallagher's case, he has scored in those 4 games. Meanwhile, their linemate Tomas Tatar leads the team in scoring with 27 points and has stopped taking silly penalties.

Shea Weber. What can I say? He scored his 10th goal tonight and his third in team scoring with 25 points and should he stay the course, he's on pace for a 66 points season which would be his best season by 10 points. At 34 years old, this is amazing. Yes he did look slow at times early in the season and late last season but right now, wow... He literally flew up the ice tonight to score that wrap around.

Of course, nothing's perfect and it needs to be said that yet another player was injured tonight, Peca left the game in the third and it looked like he had injured his ankle. Meanwhile, Max Domi was again held off the scoresheet, had one shot, one hit and unfortunately did not have much of an impact.

The Canadiens will be back in action tomorrow night in Montreal when they host the Ottawa Senators. Hopefully, Montreal can get its act together and actually compete against a team that is below them in the standings. Who knows, maybe at that time tomorrow the Habs will be rocking a 3 game winning streak...do you believe?

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