Coach Therrien has decided to use these early games to experiment with the lines. The goal? To distribute the scoring rather than have the EGG line as the only one scoring goals.
Pacioretty, Eller, Briere,
Galchenyuk, Plekanec, Gallagher.
Bourque, Desharnais, Gionta
Prust, Bournival, Moen.
As is usually the case, change does not always produce immediate returns. The first period had its share of awkward sequences. It's fair to question the coaches decision to "crack the egg". Perhaps just shuffling the other 3 lines should be explored before making the decision to mix up every line. This way at least there is the security that one line has proven chemistry should the game-plan fail to produce dividends. By the end of the game however, the end did justify the means.
It would be in the second period that the Canadiens, despite allowing the opening goal on the power play, began to outplay the Oilers. The game was centered more in the Edmonton zone, the Habs scored twice and generated the more prominent scoring chances. They held off the Oilers attack from creating any serious threats limiting their chances to the outside and getting in the way of shots from dangerous angles.
Goals from Gallagher and Prust, despite less than spectacular finishes, all stemmed from hard work and a touch of craftsmanship from those who recorded the assists. The Prust goal in particular showcased the efforts of Bournival, who seemed incredibly comfortable in his second appearance. His name wont appear on the scoresheet but his tenacity to keep the puck in the Oiler zone is the reason for the goal.
In the third the Oilers came out with desperation but the Habs weathered the storm. Each line seemed to play with a boost of energy. The play of the 4th line was most certainly a catalyst in this effort. They were constantly banging the Oilers around and leaving them breathless coming to the bench, giving the whole team the extra motivation to keep up the pace.
Increasing the lead would be Galchenyuk who received a beautifully timed saucer pass from Gallagher and put it past Dubnyk. The Oilers did everything they could to make a last ditch effort. Trailing 3-1 with just over 4 minutes left, they attempted a very unorthodox decision by pulling the goalie. Although it did generate some heat in the Habs zone, this was met with the equal vigor. In the end, it would be Briere that recorded his first point as a Canadien when he assisted on the Pacioretty empty-netter.
A nice surprise was the play of newcomer Nathan Beaulieu. In his limited ice time he made a lot of plays that take confidence to execute and did not seem to be out of place in his role filling in for Jared Tinordi.
P.K. Subban lead the team in TOI , logging in just over 25 minutes. No surprise, when he plays more, the team finds a way to win, that is certain.
Montreal desperately needed to win this game especially coming off of the effort from the night before. They visit Vancouver Saturday before stopping in Winnipeg on their way back to the Bell Center.