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Spring may be upon us but the offensive well for the Habs remains completely frozen over as they were shutout for the 3rd straight game, falling 2-0 to Washington. This marks the first time that Montreal has been shutout in 3 straight games since October of 1949, over 60 years ago. Like Thursday night in Boston, this one didn't start well which set them back the whole game.
Marco Sturm's first goal since joining Washington was scored before the 90 second mark (the 2nd straight game the Habs allowed one by this time) and ultimately proved to be the winner. More importantly, it seemed to deflate Montreal, who had as many penalties in the 1st as they did shots with 3. That basically set the stage for a snoozer of a final 40 minutes as neither team mustered up too many chances.
In the dying stages of the 3rd with the Habs still trying to muster up something resembling an attack, a Brent Sopel turnover at the blueline proved to be the straw that broke the camels' back (an apt analogy somewhat as there were times the Habs were skating like camels) as it sprung Nik Backstrom and Alexander Semin on a 2-on-0, the latter beating Carey Price who had no chance. Price made 31 saves on the night while Braden Holtby, recalled Saturday morning, turned aside all 18 shots he faced. The Habs were 0/3 on the powerplay while the Caps were 0/4
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
1st Star: Carey Price (31 saves on 33 shots, 2.06 GAA, .939 SV%)
When your team doesn't score, it's pretty hard to blame the goalie no matter what, but Price gave this team a chance right up to the very end. After having a rough night in Boston, it was nice to see him bounce back, which is at least one positive coming out of this one.
2nd Star: Brian Gionta (-1 rating, 2 shots, 5 hits, 21:10 TOI)
The smallest player on the ice just happened to be the most physical in this one. Offensively, he's second guessing himself but a couple of his hits should have at least swung the momentum Montreal's way. His block on the empty net late in the game also deserves some praise.
3rd Star: James Wisniewski (even rating, 1 shot, 2 hits, 3 takeaways, 2 blocks, 24:40 TOI)
With Roman Hamrlik being demoted in the 2nd period, he wound up getting a lot more ice time and frankly didn't hurt the team much. The one part that bugged me was that he wasn't looking to shoot enough; after seeing the success of the point shot last week, it would be nice to see him teeing it up more.
Honourable Mention: Paul Mara (even rating, 1 shot, 1 hit, 4 blocks, 14:28 TOI)
Though he surprisingly didn't play a whole lot, he made the most of his time out there. On the penalty kill, he cleared the puck several times when the Habs were scrambling while his 4 blocks were a team high. It's fair to say he did his job at least.
Stat of the Night: This isn't so much a stat from tonight but
it's something that's been bugging me and with not much else to write about, now
seems as good a time as any to mention it. Recently, we've seen Tomas
Plekanec and Jeff Halpern playing on the same line, though both are centres.
As I noted in last week's HW Recap, there is a pretty significant difference
between their success ratings on the draw. Currently, Plekanec's success
rating is 49.7%, Halpern 56.7%, a difference that doesn't show how big a gap
there is on the road between the two. However, despite this, Halpern is
not getting anywhere near enough opportunities. Case in point, the last 5
Mar. 10: Plekanec 16, Halpern 3
Mar. 12: Plekanec 14, Halpern 3
Mar. 15: Plekanec 12, Halpern 1 (both were injured in this game)
Mar. 24: Plekanec 13, Halpern 0
Mar. 26: Plekanec 22, Halpern 2
Of all the coaching decisions that seem to be garnering attention, this one doesn't seem to. When you're not scoring, getting the puck more often off the draw seems to be a place to try and get things going again. Here's hoping the coaches realize this sooner than later.
- NHL Statsheet