Bottom lines score while Carey Price shuts the door in Canadiens win
|Montreal Gazette 21 Mar 2019 at 22:23|
The New York Islanders have forged the best defensive record in the NHL this season while using their two goaltenders equally, but coach Barry Trotz picked the wrong guy when he called on Thomas Greiss to start against the Canadiens Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
Greiss, who stopped 33 shots last week to lead the Islanders to a 2-1 win over Montreal at Nassau Coliseum, was pulled midway through the second period after giving up four goals on 22 shots and the Canadiens sprinted to a 4-0 victory.
Coach Claude Julien didn’t have to make such a choice, because with the Canadiens chasing a playoff spot, Carey Price is the go-to guy. He was perfect, making 28 saves to post his fourth shutout of the season.
Price had plenty of help from an offence that featured contributions from the bottom two lines and the worst power play in the league.
Canadiens’ Carey Price makes a glove save during third period at the Bell centre Thursday night. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead on — wait for it — a power-play goal with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period. The goal was scored by — wait for it again — Joel Armia. The power-play goal was only the third in the last 18 games for the Canadiens, who had gone 2-for-42 over that span before Armia connected. Jordan Weal set up Armia in the slot and the Finn unleashed a shot that dribbled through Greiss’s pads for the first power-play goal of his career. The second assist on the goal went to Jonathan Drouin, who picked up a point for the first time in 10 games. Coming into this game, he had failed to earn a point in 16 of his previous 17 games.
The Canadiens carried the momentum from the power-play goal into the second period and they chased Greiss by scoring three times on their first nine shots in the second period to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
Shea Weber got the ball rolling when he scored on a slapshot from the point at 1:03. Artturi Lehkonen tested Greiss on a wraparound, but his shot hit the post. The puck came out to Weber who found the far top corner for his 13th goal of the season.
Drouin scored his 18th of the season on a set-up from Armia. Drouin cut across the front of the net and pulled the puck wide on Greiss. He had gone 17 games since his last goal on Feb. 7 against Winnipeg. Drouin’s goal came seconds after Price made a save in a one-on-one situation with Jordan Eberle.
Robin Lehner replaced Greiss after Jordan Weal deflected Jordie Benn’s shot from the point at 8:19.
Canadiens’ Nate Thompson bounces off a check by Islanders’ Scott Mayfield during first period Thursday night at the Bell Centre. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
The Canadiens could have been in trouble early in the game when back-to-back penalties to Jeff Petry and Shea Weber gave the Islanders a 5-on-3 advantage for 21 seconds. The Canadiens not only killed off the two penalties, but they also outshot the Islanders 3-2 while playing short-handed for 3:39. The penalty-killers were led by Lehkonen and Nate Thompson.
The Canadiens resume their pursuit of a playoff spot when they face the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night at the Bell Centre before travelling to Raleigh, N.C., to play the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday.