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About Last Night: Habs' second period resiliency leads to victory, series lead

Canadiens lead series 2-1, can eliminate Penguins Friday afternoon with victory

Canadiens' Paul Byron scored the tying goal in the second period on a wraparound effort that beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.

You can be forgiven if you thought the Habs were done and dusted after the Pittsburgh Penguins put them down 3-1 partway through the second period of Monday night’s game.

Jeff Petry’s wizardry in the third period, caroming a puck off Pittsburgh Penguins’ goalie Matt Murray’s mask before it trickled behind him into the back of the net, led to Montreal taking a 4-3 lead that they would hold on for good.

It was his second game-winning goal of the series.

The Canadiens wouldn’t have been in this position had they not buckled down and fought while being down 3-1 in the second period, even if we all know how safe two-goal leads are in hockey.

The team had sat through a back-breaking opening period that saw them allow two power play goals within a minute and needed some kind of spark to get them back in the game.

Jonathan Drouin, of all players, was the man who kickstarted the comeback. He found himself in the right place at the right time, deflecting a shot from Ben Chiarot (who didn’t play a half-bad game himself) behind Matt Murray.

You may remember Drouin was mentioned in my last column. He’s since acknowledged that needs to be better. He needed to create offence. It seemed like a weight was lifted off his shoulder once he finally scored and he played with a bit more confidence after that.

He finished the game with four shots on net, tied with Brendan Gallagher for the most among Habs forwards.

It jolted his teammates, eventually leading from a game-tying goal from Paul Byron. The forward ended the night with a goal and an assist.

The Habs could have been buried in that second period, but they rose above it.

“We thought we were still playing pretty good hockey,” Gallagher said. “For our team to respond that way, that’s a pretty good sign going forward.” 

Ain’t No (Man) Mountain High Enough

Shea Weber deserves a heap of praise. He had a hand in his team’s first three goals, including a goal of his own to begin the game.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Good things happen when you go to the net, a tried and true proverb.

His intimidating presence hasn’t been discussed enough throughout this series, as he’s roughed up players and imposed himself on the Penguins.

He ended Wednesday night’s game with a goal and two assists and was among a trio of Habs defencemen (Petry and Chiarot as well) on their A-game Wednesday night.

Brendan Gallagher’s toughness

When I saw Brendan Gallagher briefly leave the first period of Wednesday night’s game, I knew he’d be back.

I’m sure everyone else at home did too.

Gallagher’s style of play opens himself to enough bruises, bumps, and injuries at the expense of his own personal health (and possibly his well-being). Yet, it has endeared him to so many Canadiens fans and has made him indispensable.

If he left the game for an extended period, who would be on the ice to frustrate Sidney Crosby? Or anyone else on the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Needless to say, Gallagher did not want to step out of the game.

“This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs,” Gallagher said. “Any chance you get to be in the lineup…as long as you can help the team you’re going to be out there. I would never put myself in a situation where I’m going to hurt the team and hopefully I was able to contribute tonight.”

No goals or points from Gallagher, but four shots on net and two hits aren’t the worst stat line you could post.

There aren’t too many people who can, or will, question Gallagher’s heart and passion.

“He’s a leader for our team. A warrior for us,” Paul Byron said.

Best of the Liveblog

“OH MY GOD !!! lol” – Carin Latzel
“Habs looking like they belong in the post season right now.” – Joseph Barrie
“The Penguins are who we thought they are” – Ryan Katz

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