About last night … Canadiens bounce back and regain wildcard spot

About last night … Canadiens bounce back and regain wildcard spot
After 40 scoreless minutes, the Canadiens took over the third period. They outshot Colorado 10-1 through the opening of the period and got a shortie from Brett Kulak and a long-awaited goal from Jesperi Kotkaniemi to break open a tight game.

The win, coupled with losses by Buffalo and the Islanders, lifted the Canadiens back into a wildcard playoff spot.

Credit to the kindly old coach.

Claude Julien didn’t like what he saw in St. Louis — no one did — and he shook up three of his four lines for the Colorado game.

It worked brilliantly.

Joining two workhorses, Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin played one of his best games of the season. Drouin was a buzzsaw in the offensive zone — which is nothing new — but also played a rarely seen 200-foot game, matching his line-mates tenacity in all three zones.

Playing with two new wingers, Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia, Max Domi looked revitalized. The line harassed Colorado defenders and created chances on almost every shift.

Tomas Tatar and Paul Byron brought speed and grit to their new line with Kotkaniemi. The rookie struggled a bit in the early going, but Kotkaniemi was part of the third-period surge that turned the game in the Canadiens’ favour.

The rookie went 7-3 on face-offs, while Danault was 15-6. Coming off a game in which the Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly owned the dot, the Canadiens’ dominance on draws was surprising and instrumental in the win as Colorado spent a lot of time chasing the puck.

Team D was outstanding. The Canadiens did a superb job of bottling up one of the best lines in the NHL. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen were each held to one shot on goal, while Gabriel Landeskog had three.

In posting his third shutout of the season — and second in his last five starts — Carey Price was particularly effective during a second period in which Colorado outshot the home team 15-10.

Price’s excellence was buttressed by the Canadiens defence corps, all of whom were effective … particularly during four futile Colorado power plays. It was fitting that two of the three goals were scored by Dmen: Kulak and his partner, Jordie Benn (who played a yeoman 5:40 on the PK).
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