The Montreal Canadiens were reeling to start the night in Winnipeg, giving the Jets the kind of opportunities that could have effectively ended the game before 10 minutes were even played.
But Canadiens coach Claude Julien challenged a Patrik Laine goal for offside and chastised his team while the play was being reviewed. The goal was reversed, but the Jets scored shortly thereafter on the power play.
The thing is, the complexion of the game had already changed dramatically.
Before it had, Carey Price turned miracles in Montreal’s net. He stopped Winnipeg’s franchise leader in points, Blake Wheeler, on consecutive shots in Seconds 16 and 19 of the first period.
Saves that followed on Mason Appleton, on Laine and on Nikolaj Ehlers were otherworldly.
Julien had seen enough, and he went off while Laine’s goal was in the process of being overturned. The Canadiens then shook off Kyle Connor’s power-play goal, and they went on to dominate the Jets—outshooting them 39-14 and outscoring them 5-1 for a 6-2 win.
Big win? They are all in this insane race taking shape in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens sit in third place. Earlier in the day, the Toronto Maple Leafs secured their hold on second with a win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Florida Panthers in regulation while the Buffalo Sabres were losing to the Ottawa Senators to stay within one point of both the Panthers and the Sabres, who rank just behind the Canadiens.
If this was supposed to be the most crucial trip of Montreal’s season—a four-game jaunt through Western Canada—a 3-1 record on it, with wins over Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg, could have serious implications when all is said and done. In the short term, that success has allowed the Canadiens to keep pace in a race that can shift a team from second place in the division to sixth on any given night.
And there’s no chance, absolutely no chance at all, that the Canadiens could have done that without what Price offered in these four games before the Christmas break.
A power play that can win the Canadiens games
Price and Julien were instrumental in the way this game got turned around early, but a power-play goal for Canadiens leading scorer Tomas Tatar in the 16th minute of the first period put a strong wind into Montreal’s sails.
It was the team’s first power play of the game and, after nearly a minute and a half of excellent puck movement and sustained pressure in the offensive zone, they capitalized on it with a perfect play between Tatar, Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry.
One chance, one goal. Think about that.
This team, with much of the same personnel as it had a season ago, missed on its only other opportunity of the game, but has now scored on seven of its last 17 power plays over the last 10 contests. This team, which ran one of the worst power plays (13.2 per cent) since power-play statistics started being recorded by the NHL, is winning games thanks to its power play.
The Canadiens are doing this in spite of the fact that they’ve been given the 30th-most power-play opportunities in the NHL. They’re doing it without one of their most potent offensive weapons in Jonathan Drouin, who’s been out with a wrist injury since Nov. 15.
Impressive, no doubt.
Truly impressive? On the road, the Canadiens have managed to operate at 28.2 per cent, which is better than 29 other teams in the league.
This was all so unforeseeable when the season began close to three months ago, but here we are.
• We’re here because the chemistry the Canadiens have developed on the power play is undeniable. And that chemistry was typified by the play between Tatar, Suzuki and Petry.
Watch it first, then allow me to explain:
No one on the Winnipeg side knew Suzuki was making that pass.
But, you know who did know? Tatar.
As soon as Petry gets the puck back to Suzuki, Tatar steps into the seam. He does it because he knows if there’s one player who might fake a shot and pull off a perfect bullet pass through a stream of sticks and legs, it’s Suzuki.
That is chemistry.
• Phillip Danault, with two goals in the game, pulled to within three goals of his career high of 13. There are 45 games left to play.
At five-on-five, the Canadiens controlled 75.61 per cent of the shot attempts in the game with Danault on the ice.
Why? To start with, Danault won 13 of the 18 faceoffs he took in the game.
Then he, Tatar and Brendan Gallagher just dominated—whether they had to face Mark Scheifele’s line with Connor and Laine or Wheeler’s with Ehlers and Jack Roslovic.
Danault also led the Canadiens with seven shots on net.
The Victoriaville, Que., native is on pace for 65 points, and he’s picking up support (outside of Montreal) in the mid-season conversation about the Selke Trophy.
• Here’s what Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said about Max Domi in Vancouver, just hours before the team started this road trip: “What he did last year, we saw what he was capable of offering, so I don’t know why he wouldn’t be able to do it again. Sometimes a player thinks too much. It’s hard to get into a player’s head, but I’m not here to go after Max. I think he’s still a useful player to the organization and I’m sure he’ll come out of it.”
When Bergevin said this, Domi was stuck on six goals, 14 assists and 23 points through 33 games.
Since then? Domi notched two assists in the win over the Canucks, scored the overtime winner in Calgary, scored a beautiful goal in the 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, and scored a goal and added an assist in Winnipeg.
Suddenly, the plucky 25-year-old is on pace for 20 goals and 58 points.
That’s good news for Domi, given that he had 28 goals and 72 points in a breakout campaign last season and that he’s playing for a new contract right now. But it’s better news for the Canadiens, who need the Domi they saw in Winnipeg from here to the end of the season—and hopefully beyond.
• Victor Mete, back from an ankle injury that kept him out of 10 Canadiens games, played 13:04 and finished plus-1 against the Jets.
• Former Jet Joel Armia left the game with an upper-body injury. His last shift came in the eighth minute of the second period, and there was no update on his status afterwards.
Armia is one goal from his career high (he scored 13 last season) and he’s been one of Montreal’s most consistent and best players. The team and its fans will be hoping his injury isn’t too severe.
The Canadiens will resume play in Florida on Dec. 28. From there, they’ll play the Lighting on the 29th and the Hurricanes on the 31st to finish off this season-long road trip.
Drew Brees' career possibly ends with more Saints playoff sorrow as Tom Brady and Bucs move on – Yahoo Canada Sports
The Canadian Press
NEW ORLEANS — Nearly two hours after the New Orleans Saints’ season had ended, Drew Brees stood on the Superdome field in street clothes, throwing passes to his children while his wife, Brittany, captured images of those moments with her cellphone. Brees routinely throws the ball around with his kids after home games, but after a 30-20 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night, he lingered longer than usual — and there was no telling whether that familiar postgame scene would play out again. Two days after Brees’ 42nd birthday, his 20th NFL season ended with statistically his worst playoff performance. Brees threw three interceptions, his most in 18 post-season appearances. His 134 yards passing were a career-playoff low. And because of COVID-19 restrictions, there were fewer than 4,000 fans in the 73,000-seat Superdome to bid him farewell — if indeed it was his final game in a Saints uniform. For now, Brees won’t say. But he’s also said nothing that would lead one to believe he’s prepared to play next season, his last under contract. “I’ll answer this question one time and that is that I”m going to give myself an opportunity to think about the season, think about a lot of things just like I did last year and make a decision,” Brees said. That decision for the NFL’s all-time leader in yards passing will come after a fourth straight season that saw the Saints (13-5) win 11 or more games and go to the playoffs, only to come up short of the Super Bowl. This season, Brees missed four games with multiple broken ribs and a punctured lung, but came back in time to see New Orleans through to its fourth straight NFC South crown and a convincing playoff victory over Chicago in the wild-card round. “I would never regret it. Never. No complaints, no regrets,” Brees said. “I’ve always tried to play this game with a great respect and a great reverence for it, and I appreciate all that this game has given to me. “There are obviously so many incredible memories and so many incredible relationships that have come as a result of playing this game,” Brees continued. “You find out so much about yourself and you have to fight through so much when you play this game. And I’d say this season I probably had to fight through more than I’ve ever had to in any other season in my career, from injury to all the COVID stuff, to just crazy circumstances. And it was worth every moment of it. Absolutely.” Brees said the way this season ended “won’t have anything to do” with his decision on whether to retire. As for what will go into the decision, Brees said, “I’ll keep that to myself right now.” Saints coach Sean Payton seemed to be taking his cue from Brees when he, too, sidestepped a question about what his decade-and-a-half relationship with Brees has meant to him. “That’s probably for another press conference,” Payton said. “Obviously he’s been tremendous for this team, this city. I could go on and on, but let’s wait and answer that at the right time.” Other teammates didn’t wait, though. “He’s been everything you could imagine a leader could be,” said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, Brees’ teammate since 2011. “He’s the first one in, the last one out. Every stereotypical leadership core value you think of, Drew has. He exemplifies everything that he does in terms of wanting to be a better teammate.” Veteran linebacker Demario Davis said playing with Brees has meant “everything” to him. “When I came to New Orleans, I wanted to help Drew Brees win another Super Bowl because I feel like he deserves it for the accomplishments that he’s had,” Davis said. “I wanted him to have some more championship trophies on the mantle. “He’s a great teammate, a great leader, a great man, a great husband and a great father,” Davis added. “He’s just an example for all us to try to emulate.” Brees, who brought the Saints their only Super Bowl appearance and win in the 2009 season, is not only the all-time leader in yards passing with 80,358, but also completions 7,142. He began this season first in touchdowns, but is now second with 571, behind the 581 of Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, who is moving on to his 14th conference title game at age 43. When the game ended, Brees greeted a couple of Bucs players, including Brady, who he’s known since college, and then pointed to the stands and blew kisses as he jogged to the tunnel leading to the Saints locker room. When he first emerged from the locker room back onto the field in street clothes, he shared a long embrace with Brittany while his three sons and daughter played nearby. “I always soak in the moment and I’m looking up at my family and blowing kisses to my wife and my daughter and fist-pumping my boys,” Brees said. “They’ve become so much a part of this as my kids have gotten older, and they are so invested in this as well. That’s what makes the moment special, to be able to share it all together.” ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Brett Martel, The Associated Press
FRIESEN: Injury to Laine just latest curveball for Jets – Winnipeg Sun
Article content continued
“He couldn’t warm up right during practice,” Maurice said, shedding little light on the trouble. “I don’t even know if I’m going to list him as day-to-day, yet. We’ll get to tomorrow to see how he’s feeling.”
At least Laine was planning to get on the plane to Toronto.
Tucker Poolman, Josh Morrissey’s partner on the first defence pair, wasn’t.
Poolman spent his second day on the COVID-alert list and won’t make the three-game trip out east, where the Jets face Ottawa on Tuesday and Thursday.
It was Poolman’s issue (flu-like symptoms, presumably, or perhaps a close contact) that caused the Jets to cancel Saturday’s practice.
Maurice says he didn’t have to cancel, that the Jets were just being extra careful. Better safe than sorry, especially these days.
If potentially having your scoring star out and your top defence pair halved isn’t enough, first-line winger Nik Ehlers didn’t practice on Sunday because he’s still dealing with symptoms that produced a negative COVID test which allowed him to play the first game against Calgary, Thursday.
Ehlers made the trip to Toronto.
Dylan DeMelo did not, and this is where the good news comes in.
One of the Winnipeg’s top defensive defencemen, DeMelo and his wife had a baby that kept him out of Thursday’s game.
The pandemic prevents the couple from getting any help, though, so dad is staying home to help with the new addition.
Maurice says mom and baby are doing fine, so that’s a plus.
The Jets survived DeMelo’s absence just fine in Game 1. Compounding it with Poolman’s will add to the challenge.
Chiefs' playoff win over Browns becomes an afterthought due to Patrick Mahomes' injury – Yahoo
The Canadian Press
China’s Growth Beats Estimates as Economy Powers Out of Covid – Yahoo Canada Finance
Admiral Art McDonald's Maritime origins | CTV News – CTV News Atlantic
Toronto opening mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic as ICUs move patients around province – CBC News: The National
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Galaxy M31 July 2020 security update brings Glance, a content-driven lockscreen wallpaper service
News11 hours ago
COVID-19 worsening Canadian students' diets, inactivity, alcohol consumption: study – CTV News
Sports5 hours ago
Why the Maple Leafs put Jason Spezza, Aaron Dell on waivers – The Athletic
Economy20 hours ago
Nearly half of Canadians miss high school literacy grade — and that's bad for economy – CBC.ca
Sports19 hours ago
Game #3 Review: Toronto Maple Leafs 3 vs. Ottawa Senators 2 – Maple Leafs Hot Stove
Health11 hours ago
Ontario inspectors find 36 stores violating COVID-19 rules during big-box safety blitz – CTV Toronto
Sports21 hours ago
Can Raptors keep winning with such instability at center? – The Athletic
Science19 hours ago
Test fire of NASA's SLS moon rocket ends prematurely – CTV News
Politics14 hours ago
Live politics updates: Twitter temporarily suspends account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – USA TODAY