About Last Night: The Habs finally win two in a row


The Canadiens won two consecutive games for the first time this season with a 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders Sunday at UBS Arena.

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For the first time in the 2021-22 regular season, the Montreal Canadiens have a winning streak.

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Rem Pitlick scored the shootout winner to give the Habs a 3-2 edge over the New York Islanders Sunday afternoon at UBS Arena, giving his club a second consecutive win. Journeyman netminder Andrew Hammond shone in his Habs debut, making 30 saves during the game and another two in the shootout. For all you arena historians, this was Montreal’s first visit to the new home of the Isles.

Joel Armia missed the game after taking a skate to the face in Thursday’s contest. Defenseman Corey Shueneman was placed in COVID-19 protocol and didn’t dress.

The game was chippy from the onset, with Michael Pezzetta drawing a penalty by Matt Martin in a skirmish near the Montreal bench.

Pezzetta, a scratch throughout new interim coach Martin St. Louis’ tenure thus far, made the most of a rare opportunity. He parked his keister in front of goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and while he was originally credited with the game’s opening goal, it was later switched to Jeff Petry, who made the initial shot from the point. It was Petry’s fourth point in his last three games.

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The Islanders entered the second period with a five-on-three man-advantage. Montreal killed the first penalty, but with Jake Evans still in the box, Kyle Palmieri feasted on a rebound off a deflection in front to tie the game 1-1.

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The newly installed top line of Cole Caufield-Nick Suzuki-Josh Anderson once again paid dividends. Towards the end of a quick-paced second period, Suzuki fired a long pass near the blueline all the way to Anderson towards the other end of the offensive zone. Anderson then roofed it from a sharp angle to beat Sorokin. The Habs regained their one-goal lead.

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Both goalies stood tall in the third period, even when they were getting knocked down. At one end of the ice, Palmieri crashed into Hammond, who was initially slow to get up but otherwise remained unfazed. At the other end, Laurent Dauphin was knocked down streaking towards the net, taking Sorokin down with him.

There was such a furious pace to the third period, even coach St. Louis couldn’t help but flash a smile from behind the bench.

Brock Nelson tormented the Canadiens in November, scoring four goals in the game, and he once again came through in the clutch. With less than three minutes remaining, Nelson jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and took it to the house himself, beating Hammond with a low wrister. The goal sent the game into overtime.

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Remember all those overtime games where the Habs hung back and played keep-away while time elapsed? Well, apparently there’s another way to play three-on-three. The Habs and Isles traded end-to-end rushes for five minutes, but both Hammond and Sorokin were unflappable. The shootout was next.

Caufield broke the ice for Montreal, showing patience and beating Sorokin five-hole.

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Pitlick took the opposite approach on the eventual winner, skating fast and beating Sorokin’s outstretched pad.

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Nelson had one more chance to play the hero, but Hammond shut the door for his first NHL win since 2016.

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After losing their first three under interim coach St. Louis, the Habs have now strung together two straight wins. A pretty clear division has formed among the Liveblog commenters. At one end are the Sharks/Montagues, who feel the Habs are treading dangerously close to squandering last place in the league and an advantage in the upcoming NHL draft lottery. Meanwhile, the Jets/Capulets just wanna have fun after seeing the Habs plummet to such unfathomable depths this season.

At this point, the Canadiens would need to go on a torrid stretch to leapfrog the 30th place Seattle Kraken, who are nine points ahead with a game in hand. Then again, the Habs are in a rare position to potentially draft first overall for the first time since 1980, so the spoils of such futility don’t come around often. A generational talent could be hanging in the balance.

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In the coming weeks, the sinking Habs, Arizona Coyotes and Seattle Kraken will be tossing men overboard, so this race to the bottom is just getting started. Even the prize at the end isn’t entirely clear, with opinions on consensus ranking topper Shane Wright starting to waver.

If opposing teams were window shopping on Sunday, Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry potentially did wonders to improve their value. In his return from injury, Chiarot played nearly 24 minutes, while Petry played 23:27 and has a point streak going.

Here’s a sampling of how the Liveblog commenters are feeling.

3. “Imagine where this team could possibly be, had Molson acted immediately this season!? Now I’m not sure if they are playing better because there’s no pressure, or the new coach has them playing a better system. But, certain veterans are sure playing to their talents now. Could it be they are showing themselves for possible trades to contenders?” -Mark Royal Smith

2. “Fact of the matter is that players and coach will not “tank” on purpose. They are paid to do a job and the ones who do not have a secure contract will do whatever it takes to get one. I am glad that they are playing well and this will hopefully improve the value of some of the players whom the management would like to trade. If the team is to “tank” then it is up to management to trade away good assets that they deem is not in their future plans. I am trusting the process, for now :)” -Ak Man

1. “It’s a hard cap, pro sports league. A sub .300 percentage towards the end of February defines what this team is. So, no, I’m not keen to watch feel-good moments in the last 30 games of the season — just to see the odds of MTL’s first pick go from 1/4 to 1/25. If these players lack — we wouldn’t have been at 23 points late last week. ARI is now one point behind, with a game tonight. What matters now is the draft. Finishing 25th or 28th or 32nd makes NO DIFFERENCE to who these players are. The historical losing and all-time decrepitude is already guaranteed. Get the first draft pick. Make this season worth something…” -Rudi Hittisau

And a little bonus…

“STOP THE REBUILD! It was just bad coaching all along. A few tinkers and we’re in the finals again next year.” -Alden Gallant

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