Sports In the Habs' Room: Leafs capitalize on error-prone Montreal with 3 power-play goals
Canadiens Game Day: Jake Allen in net Saturday afternoon vs. Senators
Coach Claude Julien said he is looking at the big picture with his two goalies and that’s why Jake Allen will be in net Saturday afternoon when the Canadiens play the Senators in Ottawa (1 p.m., TSN2, TSN5, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). It will be the fifth start in 12 games for Allen, who has a 3-1-0 record with a 2.02 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. Carey Price allowed three goals on 22 shots in Thursday night’s 3-2 loss to the Senators at the Bell Centre, dropping his record to 4-1-2 with a 2.81 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Julien said he wants to keep both his goalies fresh, which is why he gave Allen the start.
Rule No. 1 is: Do not take penalties that leave your team short-handed, particularly when you are facing the top power play in the league.
Rule No. 2: When you do take penalties, make sure the best power play in the league doesn’t score.
The Canadiens broke both rules Saturday as they allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to score three power-play goals en route to a 5-3 win at the Bell Centre.
Canadiens-Maple Leafs rivalry heating up this season
The last time the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs met in the playoffs was 1979. That was six years before Canadiens captain Shea Weber was born. Coach Claude Julien was a 19-year-old defenceman with the junior Windsor Spitfires when the Canadiens swept the Leafs in their 1979 playoff quarter-final series en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The Canadiens and Leafs have met 15 times in total in the playoffs, including five Stanley Cup finals. The Leafs beat the Canadiens in the 1947, 1951 and 1967 Cup finals, while the Canadiens won in 1959 and 1960.
“We gave the game to them with our mistakes,” said coach Claude Julien.
“We didn’t get the kills we needed,” added Paul Byron, who responded to being placed on waivers last week by scoring a goal. “We had a lot of chances 5-on-5, we skated well, but it was just those little mistakes we made. We gave up a couple of odd-man rushes and that team makes you pay for it”
The Leafs jumped to a 2-0 lead when they scored two power-play goals in 16 seconds early in the second period.
The Canadiens were two men short after Victor Mete took a hooking penalty — Julien hates to see hooking penalties — late in the first period and Ben Chiarot compounded the problem by shooting the puck over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty.
“We tell them not to shoot pucks over the glass,” Julien said. “We tell them to ice the puck. We tell them to stay away from those kind of penalties, but we’re on the bench; they’re on the ice. It’s a matter of them having to do it.”
Canadiens at Maple Leafs: Five things you should know
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Maple Leafs game at Scotiabank Arena Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports, TSN-690 Radio). The matchup: The Canadiens will be looking for redemption as they meet the Maple Leafs after dropping a 4-2 decision at the Bell Centre Wednesday. This will be the third of 10 meetings this season between these traditional rivals and the Leafs have had the upper hand since opening the season with a 5-4 overtime win in Toronto. The victory on Wednesday allowed the Leafs to open a five-point gap on the Canadiens in the battle for first place in the NHL’s Canadian division with 23 points.
The Canadiens hadn’t played a game since last Saturday, which gave them plenty of time to review past mistakes and Julien said he couldn’t accept the performance.
“There’s nothing that should be acceptable,” Julien said. “If you accept certain things, it’s not being committed to winning. I think we expect more out of ourselves. It was disappointing tonight because we had our legs and we had our opportunities. If we had been sharper mentally and cut down on some of our mistakes, we could have won this game. But we shot ourselves in the foot with those kind of mistakes.”
The Canadiens might have given it a better run if a coach’s challenge hadn’t wiped out what would have been Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s second goal of the game for goaltender interference.
“It seemed they viewed it a little like (Joe) Thornton’s goal against Ottawa that was disallowed,” Julien said. “You’re not supposed to push the pad into the net, but what I saw was Kotkaniemi went for the loose puck that was just underneath (Frederik Andersen’s) pad that he hadn’t closed on, at first. When you look at it, the puck goes in before the pad crosses the goal line, so I thought for sure it was going to be a good goal but, obviously, it was viewed differently.”
Canadiens Notebook: Jonathan Drouin starting to shoot puck more often
Jonathan Drouin ranks 14th on the Canadiens in shots this season with only 20 in the first 15 games. That partly explains why he only has one goal, but he also has a team-leading 10 assists to rank fifth on the team in points behind Tyler Toffoli (10-5-15), Jeff Petry (6-9-15), Nick Suzuki (3-9-12) and Josh Anderson (9-2-11). Drouin is also plus-5. “I feel happy about my game,” Drouin said after practice Tuesday in Brossard. “I’m around the puck, I’m involved in a lot of play. I just got to keep going towards that. My consistency’s been good this year. There’s a lot of games coming up. I think as a line (with Suzuki and Anderson) we just want to keep doing what we’re doing.
The loss was another disappointment to those who are old enough to remember when the Forum ghosts could give the Canadiens a lift. In the days of COVID-19, not even the ghosts are allowed in the Bell Centre and, for the second consecutive season, Montreal’s home record leaves something to be desired, even though Shea Weber had them pump up the canned crowd noise. The loss left the Canadiens with a 3-5-0 home record, while they have at least one point in each of their eight road games with a 6-0-2 record.
The Canadiens have dropped into fourth place in the Canadian division and Toronto has opened a 10-point lead on Montreal, but there’s no reason to panic because the Canadiens have multiple games in hand on the teams directly in front of them — Edmonton and Winnipeg — and they have two games against theJets later this week.
Canadiens Notebook: Dominique Ducharme keeps working on his new system .
New Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme likes to limit his practices to 30-35 minutes, but he wants them to be intense. About 30 minutes into practice Monday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, Ducharme blew his whistle, stopped the action and held a mini team meeting on the ice. The Canadiens were working on Ducharme’s new forechecking system and the coach didn’t like what he was seeing. “I said instead of keeping going for three minutes and not doing it the right way I’ll stop, we’ll walk through it and they’ll understand and we’ll leave here better,” Ducharme explained after practice. “You always start with a plan,” Ducharme added.